Authenticity and responsibility in the presence of anger creates choice and connection


Hi. My name is Lisa Carpanelli. I’d like to share with you an experience
that I had when I was in the presence of someone else’s anger.

I was driving with a friend of mine. It was late; it was around 9:00 in the
evening, it was dark out and we needed to stop to get gas. We pulled into
this gas station and there was nobody else at the gas station. There were
multiple pumps and I just pulled up to the first pump I saw. As I was doing
that, a big truck pulled in with an older man in it. He was very angry, and
he leaned out his window and he just started yelling at us about. “Why
didn’t you pull up?” He was just angry. Right away I felt my [inaudible:
00:44] go up, freezed, and just the adrenaline started pumping. I thought
“Okay. This man’s angry. That has nothing to do with me, remember that.”

Then he pulls in front of us, and then he backs up and he bumps my car on
purpose. At this point, my friend and I are just, “What do we do? Should we
call the cops? Should we call the police? What do we do?” I was shaking. We
get out of the car, and my first thought was just to say, “Hey. You just
hit my car. Why?” My friend was more of a reaction place. He got very angry
and up in his face, and of course, that man got more angry; it fueled his
anger because it was a reaction, meaning his anger. I said, “Please, don’t
engage with him. Please, just go sit back in the car.” He listened, and he

I knew this was a moment to use my tools and to stay present with myself,
even though I was feeling fear. I was feeling very shaky, I could feel the
adrenaline. I was just letting my body shake, but I was breathing and
staying present. I asked myself in that moment, “What do I do right now?
How do I respond? What is my responsibility here? How do I want to do
this?” I breathed and I felt my feelings, and then I continued to pump the
gas. I just heard, “See this man as he truly is. Don’t pretend that he’s
not angry, but also, recognize he’s very angry and it’s not okay for him to
treat me this way. It’s not really about me. See who he really is
underneath his anger.”

I just fixed my gaze on him very neutrally with no judgment, but also, just
deep presence. I just looked at him with love. He would look at me for a
moment and keep the gaze, and then he’d look down and mumble something
under his breath. He’d look at me again for a moment, and then mumble.
After that happened a couple of times, I was done pumping the gas and I
hung up the gas pump, and I just came a little closer, but not too close,
and I said, “Excuse me, sir. I just want to let you know that when I pulled
into this gas station here tonight, in no way, shape, or form was it my
intention to hurt you or to make you angry. I just wanted to let you know
that.” He just melted into this, what I saw, was a little boy. He hung his
head down and he said, “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have done that. I’m
sorry. I should not have hit your car.” I just said, “It’s okay. I forgive
you. Thank you.” I got in my car and we drove away, and I felt this release
and this gratitude.

Using these tools, I was able to be with my fear and still take action. I
stayed present, I still felt the fear, and I was able to make a conscious
choice of how I wanted to respond to a scary situation.