The King Is In His Counting House
Have you ever been shocked by your own overreaction or another person’s reaction to something that actually seemed benign? Like as they say, “crying over spilled milk?” I sometimes have clients who say they are surprised and disappointed in themselves. They ask, “How come I react so crazy at this time, and so calmly at another time? I explain it with my analogy of the “King in his Counting House.”
The king is in his counting-house after a splendid banquet replete with delicious foods. He’s full and ready for some relaxation. In those days, instead of going to watch Netflix, or Amazon Prime, or whatever, he goes to his counting-house and is entertained by counting his jewels…his emeralds, rubies, diamonds and sapphires, his gold bullion and coins and pieces of exotic collectibles. While he’s relaxing and enjoying his treasure, there’s a knock at the door. His favorite, beloved servant comes and says to him, “Sire, my wife has just given birth and I’d like to take a day off to give her some help.” The king says, “Only a day off? Take a week off, and here’s a bag of gold. Buy her some beautiful jewelry, and make sure she has good help and plentiful food.”
Well, a few months pass and this kingdom is beset by the neighboring enemies who are encroaching on the borders. Now the king and his generals are in the war room, discussing what strategies they need to use to prevent the enemy from getting further into their land. That same favorite and beloved servant of the king knocks on the door and enters with a tray of delectable foods. And he says, “Sire, it’s time for the evening sup.” The king shouts back, “Get out of here. I don’t need this.” The servant pleads with the overwrought king and says, “But sire, you need to eat well to be strong enough to fight your battles.” The king shouts back, “If you don’t get out of here, I will behead you!” And so, the beloved servant goes away with the dinner tray.
I think the parable is obvious. Here, we’re speaking about the same person, the same king, the same beloved servant in two different situations. Maybe in our life, it’s our spouse or children or our friend. And sometimes we bite their heads off. Why do we do that? We probably do it because we’re stressed out or overwhelmed, angry, anxious, or nervous. Remember the leaky boat analogy? (CLICK HERE to read it again.) We need to mindfully stay attentive to the “weather conditions” inside ourselves. If we’re feeling stormy, if our boat is overly full and ready to keel over, we need to settle ourselves a bit before we become dysregulated and accidentally hurt ourselves or others.
A good lesson from this story is to maintain our cool by doing things that keep us calm and collected so that we’re most receptive to the ideas that people present to us. If we see that we’re closing people off or we’re reacting in a knee-jerk fashion, it probably means that we’re really not present and we’re not taking good care of ourselves to be able to hear another person, to be able to be receptive. We need to be able to be calm and present and in a good state of mind, this reminds me of the “Leaky Roof Syndrome,” which we’ll talk about another time. Using the Three-Legged Stool approach, and doing things intermittently throughout the day to ease us in body, mind, and soul more regularly can do the trick. I call this “Doubling Up.” You can CLICK HERE to read about it.
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