Some might disagree with my title. That’s OK. I believe no matter what is happening to or around us, we can choose how we will respond. As we enter into a Presidential election here in the States, it’s easy to allow other’s words or actions dictate our words and actions. You have more power than that.
I like to start with breathing. Slow your breathing down. Let your exhale be longer than your inhale for a few breath cycles. Begin to notice what you are feeling emotionally and physically. Notice your thoughts. Allow the situation to just “be” without having to judge the situation or act on it. Just pause, breathe, and notice.
After a few minutes, consider if there is any action you still want to take. Standing up for something you believe in is healthy but not if it is meant to be intentionally hurtful to another. That’s retaliation. I generally don’t think retaliation comes from a centered, grounded place inside. I think of it as a reactionary way to hurt another because you believe they hurt you. If it’s retaliatory, go back through the breathing, non-judgmental, non-reactive, just be with it place. Give it some time. Perhaps you will change your mind and find a healthier step you choose to take.
For some it seems elusive. I find it at times and at others lose it. It seems peace is connected to a choice we make about how we look at our circumstances. When Anna was waiting for her first transplant I struggled to find peace. I didn’t like not living at home and being away from all things familiar including people. I didn’t like the unpredictable nature of the transplant world, every day wondering if it would be the day we got the call for available lungs. I didn’t have a lot of peace.
By Anna’s second transplant I learned a few things. The main difference was being at peace with whatever was happening. I learned to find contentment in the space of the unpredictable and unfamiliar. Paul, one of the writers of the New Testament of the Bible, spoke of learning to be content in the midst of hardships. His were a lot more intense than mine but the concept of finding peace in any and every situation is accessible to all of us.
It is a choice to breathe and relax. To look for glimmers of sunshine in the midst of dark circumstances or simply be at peace right where you are. Life is filled with discomfort. Acknowledge yours, give space to grieve, be angry or sad. Then take a few slow breaths and remind yourself you can get through this a breath at a time. You can choose to hang on to icky emotions or let them go (for now, they will likely come back but you’ll deal with them when they show up again). You can choose to do something that fills your soul in the midst of the challenge (as simple as looking at a flower, the sky, a color you like, remembering a pleasant time or place). You can even follow the gentle prompt of my online yoga friend, Yoga with Adriene, turn the corners of your mouth up.
I understand it can be hard to find peace, but I also know it’s possible. Choose peace 🙂
I’ve been reading Shonda Rhimes’ A Year of Yes. It’s a quick and enjoyable read. I hear the voices of Meredith Grey, Cristina Yang and Miranda Bailey from her hit series, Grey’s Anatomy. As I turned the pages, I was simply a casual observer of her experiences but one line caught me. She was talking about how she fears people will think she thinks she’s better than everyone else and conceited if she simply says thank you and accepts awards confidently. As I read this line, it caught my breath and tears started welling up in my eyes. This struck something deep inside of me.
I hate (yes hate!) posting about what I’m doing. I struggle with promoting my work on social media, this blog, and my newsletter. I believe whole heartedly in the work I do. I have dedicated myself to growing personally and professionally so I can give the very best to my clients and readers. I’m not ashamed of my message at all. I am afraid you will think I’m too full of myself. I had conquered this piece, or so I thought but here it is rearing it’s ugly head once again.
As soon as the pandemic got going I jumped on Facebook and recorded a bunch of live videos. I realized this was a frightening time and immediately put out material to help people get through those initially scary weeks. After awhile I got tired of seeing myself on my Facebook page and I feared you might too so I stopped. I figured there’s plenty of other people out there offering help I don’t need to add to the noise.
But my message isn’t just noise. It’s unique because it’s from my perspective and it’s helpful. I believe in our ability to heal and find freedom in the midst of uncertainty. I know from my own journey it’s true and I want others to experience it, too.
I have a new awareness around this old issue. I’m not sure what my next steps will be but for now, I am writing. I find when I put my icky thoughts out there they have less power. For the record, I don’t think I’m better than others. I do believe I have knowledge that can bring healing and freedom to others and I need to get out of my own way so I can continue to share it.
We forget some of the principles this country was founded on. Yes, it was for freedom. Freedom not to be under a tyrannical government. Freedom for its citizens to practice their own religion, get a good education, move from one class system into another, have a voice in the way the government was run, and freedom to care for one another. The founding members of this country wanted to escape an oppressive and unfair government. An ocean wasn’t enough to create the kind of country they wanted to live in so they rose up and said, “No! We are going to create a country where all people have rights to a better life in the way they want to live it.” Actually, at the beginning it was only white men who had rights. The founding fathers (they were all white men) didn’t fully understand they weren’t really forming a free country for all, just men. So they were misguided. As a nation we had some learning to do and since then we have learned and advanced into a truly free country for all, on paper anyway.
This isn’t a Christian nation. It was founded by men, most of whom acknowledged there was a God, but that doesn’t mean the nation belongs to any religious practice but does allow all religions to be practiced. That alone is a big deal. Right now in this world people are imprisoned for practicing a religion other than the government approved religion. We are not that country.
The United States is a place of freedom for all. The preamble of the Constitution sums up what this country is founded on best: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The role of the government and citizens of this wonderful experiment is to support justice, do what we can to insure peace for everyone (domestic tranquility) as well as support one another to have basic physical, social and economic needs met (promote general welfare). We are to think about how our actions will affect the general population.
We are given the freedom to thrive and grow in an environment where we are protected and provided for. We can get an education and become a productive adult within our society to add to the domestic tranquility, demonstrate justice, participate in the common defense and ensure the blessings of liberty continue for the generations to follow.
Sadly, many people have forgotten these basic tenets our country was founded on. We do things that benefit only ourselves. We cut corners to save ourselves money (or make more) but then sometimes in the process we hurt others (letting toxic waste flow into a stream is cheaper than processing it in a safer way so the waste doesn’t end up in drinking water that damages others). Laws have had to be added to help protect us when people don’t care. We don’t like laws. I don’t think our founding fathers intended for us to have so many laws but I think they were naive and blinded to their own selfishness: women didn’t have rights, slavery was legal, and they viewed Native Americans as savages, just to name a few.
We’ve had to do a lot of growing as individuals and as a nation. We’ve had to enact laws to step in and make it harder to violate justice, domestic tranquility and general welfare. As technology and situations change, new laws have to be put in place to address the ways we hurt others. And on this July 4th, the hot topic is wearing masks. We need to ask what is the reason for wearing one? Is it recommended so the government can take away your rights or is it because they believe it is in the best interest of people (general welfare and domestic tranquility)? I don’t like wearing a mask at all. I wear one because I want to do what I can to help others and it just might help. I care about the common good not just my good.
As we approach the celebration of the founding of this truly wonderful country, memorize the preamble (School House Rock put it to music way back when I was young, it’s catchy and easy to remember). Put what you do through the filter of: is it just, does it perpetuate domestic tranquility, does it promote the general welfare of others, will it be a benefit to future generations? Take on the role of bringing goodness and kindness not only to our country but also to this world. It will create a free and peaceful existence for you, too!
My heart is grieved. I see so much hate being thrown around on social media and in the news from Black Lives Matter to Anti-Mask protests and beyond. I’m pretty sure people on all sides of the issues are not stupid, wicked people. I think, for the most part, we are all scared and hurting in some way. Some fear the loss of control, “If I give in to the demand to wear a mask you’re going to just keep taking away my rights.” Some fear culpability, “If I say black lives matter, then I have to admit there is something inside of me that thought they didn’t or perhaps I am some how complicit in their oppression.” Some fear the loss of protection, “If you don’t wear a mask you might infect me.”
I think our hate for those on the other side of an issue comes from fear, anger or sadness. I think the fear, anger or sadness come from wounds from our distant or not so distant past. We were hurt in some way and now we let that hurt spew out on others. We were oppressed by another, we experienced hurt at the intentional or unintentional words or actions of another, we felt misunderstood, unheard, or not good enough to another. Something happened and the hate toward others started to take root and grow into something dark and hurtful inside. Left unhealed, we just repeat what was done to us, only we think we are justified some how. We’re not. We’re just as guilty as the person who hurt us. We are repeating the cycle.
We have this wonderful aspect to our humanity that enables us to change. We can look at ourselves, learn about the hurtful parts of us, heal the pain, and function in a kind, understanding way toward ourselves and others. This takes work. It takes humility and it’s worth it. I don’t say this from an “I’m all that” place but rather from knowing what it’s like to be the one hurting others, doing the hard work with others by my side to delve into the why, and find healing. I’m not always good at it but I try to see the other side. I try to understand where the other is coming from rather than demand I’m right and you’re wrong. It’s freeing, really it is. It feels so much better to put down my arsenal of attacks and listen instead. I don’t have to agree with you to listen and understand your view. Listening to you helps me soften. We might not end the conversation in agreement, but we will still be friends. Try it, you might find freedom if you do. 🙂
I posted this in 2017 and it’s time to bring it back.
“The challenge is to always do what is right and good and true, even if others don’t appreciate it. Making the world a better place can’t depend on applause. You have to keep striving, no matter what, because if you don’t, many of the things that need to be done in our world will never get done.” ~ Kent M. Keith, author of Anyway – The Paradoxical Commandments
The Paradoxical Commandments by Keith M. Kent:
- People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
- If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
- If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
- The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
- Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
- The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
- People favor underdogs but follow top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
- What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
- People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
- Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.
I resonate with Kent Keith’s ideas. Our job is to leave a positive mark on this planet through our actions and words. Our ripples may be small or large. The size isn’t the point. The healthiest approach is to detach from the outcome or reach of the good we do and do good anyway! 🙂