This morning I was on my way to Pilates and I had 2 – 5 gallon bottles of water in the back of my car. As I was turning the corner to get onto the freeway, one of the bottles tipped over and I must not have tightened the cap because I could hear the glug-glug- glug of water coming out…in the backseat of my car! I reached back and grabbed the bottle and put it upright but I slowed my car down to do so. The cars behind me were mad and honking their horn – I don’t really blame them; they had no idea what was happening in my car at that moment…how could they?
That is exactly my point. We don’t really know what is going on with people at any given time. I know in the past when I had gotten upset with someone’s behavior I later found out there was something going on with him or her that I hadn’t realized at the time. In fact, when I took the time to ascertain what was going on for the person that created the behavior I had judged and took personally – it was rarely what I thought it was. What has this taught me?
Years ago I read a book called “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey and one of those habits was titled “Seek first to understand”. I have never forgotten that one habit because it felt so compassionate to me. Let’s all take a collective breath right now and think about what our lives (and those around us) would be like if we sought first to truly understand each other. We make judgments and assumptions of others and react from our own insecurities and this can create so much misunderstanding. Does this bring us peace and joy? I think not.
Right now, what is a situation that is causing you to suffer? Can you first seek to understand the nature of it and not take it personally? If this involves another person, can you show yourself compassion and share your feelings honestly, then show them compassion and ask what is going on and can you help? Most of the time when someone is going through something and they take it out on us, they are struggling with something internally and it has nothing to do with us. I practice slowing waaaaaaaay down when someone has pissed me off. I breathe and get myself grounded and ask my higher self “How should I handle this situation”. More often than not I get this answer “Wait, don’t answer yet”, followed by “Love him or her more”.
When I don’t personalize another person’s behavior then I am free to love them. Of course, we need to review ourselves and take our responsibility for what is ours. We need to apologize for any hurt we have caused, intentional or not. Then we need to forgive ourselves by admitting that we are only human, doing the best we can. Let go of any shame around hurt that we cause and love ourselves.
So many of us are running around living intensely busy lives that we forget to stop and check in with ourselves. As a result we end being much more reactive than we might want or intend to be. The next time you get triggered into a reaction:
Slow down and take a breath; check in with yourself to see how you are feeling; connect with that higher self (the calm part of you that doesn’t get involved in the drama of life) and ask what you could do instead of freaking out; seek to understand first; offer an apology or forgiveness; then let it go baby!
“Life is short, don’t shorten yours unnecessarily”
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