Maybe we are just trying to solve a problem, not hurt someone

I was explaining my situation to a senior manager during a meeting; half description, half defense—the usual stuff. He waved a hand and cut me off.  I was annoyed but backed down because indeed my explanation was going nowhere. A week later, I was still feeling the anger drifting in and out of me. I was subconsciously addicted to inducing toxic chemical reactions into my body by re-creating that scene, over and over again. I just didn’t know why I was dragging such a tiny matter along.

One more week later, I got it. I was talking with a colleague, listening to him explaining his situation. I thought he was going nowhere, so I “encouraged” him to move on by—yes—waving a hand in front of his face. The déjà-vu sensation hit me at that exact moment, because the memory of the other “encouragement” was still ringing in my head.

The funny thing was that when I waved hands, I did’t contain any hostility toward the other person on the conscious level. I thought I was just picking up the most effective way to solve the issue at hand. But deep inside my heart, I must have known that my natural reaction was most effective for the other reason: hurting someone. My body chose the hand-waving motion, sent the order through the spinal cord to bypass my brain, and I waved the hand as a “natural” reaction to solve the situation. I realized that the reason I couldn’t let go of such a small incident was because it wasn’t “small” at all, at least for me. Yet I never truly realized how offensive it might be, until a coincidence forced me to looked at me from the other side.

Like many of our habits, I think what I did was a learned behavior. And now I am getting to understand that the possible “maker,” who turned me into a hand-waver, wasn’t trying to hurt me consciously either. He just didn’t know what else to do. And of course, he must have copied the behavior from someone else. I felt pity for the maker (and myself) and let go of a fraction of the anger I carried along toward him. That felt fine. (I am using “he” but it isn’t necessary a male.)

Also, I don’t think I will be interrupting people by waving hands any more. (Or to be more precise, I will be catching myself at that exact moment.)