Don't Get Your Panties In A Wad Over Nothing

open ardent heart #1

It doesn’t seem so long ago I was writing a post about the shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

Now there has been yet another senseless shooting, and (could it be possible?) one that is even more horrific. I won’t linger on this tragedy. We’ve all had our moments of private anguish and disbelief. And nothing I can say about it will diminish the horror or add any sense or redemption to the situation.

In my own mind, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to respond in these situations (beyond praying for and thinking about the victims and their families) is to make positive change in my own life.

The feelings of helplessness and often hopelessness that arise from these unconscionable events can make us feel like the world is spinning out of our control. Like we’ve gone down a rabbit hole where nothing and no one will ever be normal and safe again.

Aside from locking ourselves in our homes and sitting in the corner sucking our thumbs in a state of shock, what can we do? What can we do that will change anything, that will make the world better or safer or happier?

I think the only thing we can do  is love.

We can be a walking, living, breathing expression of love in everything we do.

How else can we respond to terror, violence, and tragedy — except through love.

“Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love.”~Rumi

This may sound a bit Pollyanna in light of the circumstances. I certainly don’t diminish the feelings of anger and pain that are natural responses to these events. They merit every ounce of outrage we can muster.

But in our own little circles of influence, the only place where we have any impact or control, we can sow the seeds of love and peace and kindness.

In the minutiae of your day, in the nuances of your most casual interactions, in the chance encounters you have with people unknown to you — sow the seeds of love and peace and kindness.

And more than anything, disengage from anger. Don’t get your panties in a wad about nothing, about dust that will blow away and be forgotten tomorrow. In the light of this tragedy, it is so very clear that not much is worth the negative energy expended over trifles.

When you feel anger bubbling up, consciously transform that energy to love.

Meet your frustrations, your anxiety, your stress, your indignation, your pain with the voice of your higher self, and with words calm and tender, remind yourself that love is the only response.

What does this mean specifically?

  • It means when someone steals your parking spot at the crowded mall, let them have it with a smile.
  • It means when your spouse is unkind or thoughtless, breathe through and seek to understand what is truly behind their words or actions.
  • It means when someone tries to engage you in conflict, smile, breathe, and step away with a blessing for them.
  • It means when you encounter the nasty store clerk or pushy shopper, offer them a smile and kind word.
  • It means when your children are acting out and you are stressed and tired, hold your tongue and speak through love to manage their behavior.

The potential for anger and frustration is inside all of us. But it really doesn’t take much to manage and redirect it. It is so worth the small effort involved. You can be proactive in managing anger by by addressing the potential triggers.

  • Get enough sleep;
  • Don’t over-schedule your life;
  • Manage your expectations;
  • Keep spending under control;
  • Communicate regularly with loved ones about feelings or expectations;
  • Anticipate and plan for potential life stresses (like traffic, lines, weather, etc.);
  • Exercise and eat nourishing, healthy foods;
  • Allow yourself quiet time.

And in the heat of a moment when anger surfaces, remember these things and breathe:

Today you have your loved ones, and hopefully they are safe.

Today you have your home, and hopefully it is peaceful.

Today you have your work, and hopefully you are secure in it.

Today you have your friends, and hopefully they bring you joy.

Today you are alive and safe, and you have a tremendous capacity for love.

So pray for those who are lost to us. Pray for their families. Then go live your life through love. That’s all you can do.

Spread the love. Please share this post.

Comments

  1. Aaron Black says:

    “…make positive change in my own life” . There’s so much we can’t control, and when bad things happen we end up feeling helpless and angry, so we ask “why didn’t someone do something?”.

    I’ve tried to re-orient my life around an ethic of love. I’ve embraced the idea that we all have different callings in life, but I believe they are all rooted in one grand purpose – which is love. “remind yourself that love is the only response”. Thank you for your timely post. Hopefully each of us can find ways to fulfill our calling in light of the grander purpose of love.

    Mahatma Gandhi – “Where there is love there is life.”

  2. Sandra / Always Well Within says:

    Radical, revolution, and completely on target. Not easy to do all the time, but our mind is pliable and flexible. It can be training in love and goodness. I’m with you, Barrie.

  3. You are so right Barrie – with this latest tragedy, it is easy to feel despair, bewilderment as to why, and also total sadness; for the families involved on both sides of this desperate situation. I also have sadness for the perpetrator – what can be happening in the mind of such an individual that they believe this is the answer? Thanks for the reminder that the only thing we can control and change is our self. I am focusing on counting my blessing and being grateful for everything I have in my life and breathing love, peace and gratitude into my every day interactions. Not always easy but I am a work in progress!

  4. Great reminder, thank you. It’s powerful too. When I remember to counter my children’s bad behaviour with gentle patience the results are astonishing and swift. Same is true of rude store clerks. They transform after a smile and a warm word. Far more effective than an angry word. The trick is to take that moment to step back and breathe. Then respond.

  5. It’s really like the world is going crazy, we can see the proofs of it again and again. We do need more positiveness, optimism and belief!
    Thanks for sharing this post Barrie.

  6. Barrie, I have enjoyed your messages for a long time now, but this one bothers me alot. It is not about you…or me and how we are feeling and ways to make US feel better. Yes, I feel horrified – I feel more vulnerable for my family, but it is not about me feeling better. It is about the vulnerability of our minds and our children’s minds and the effects foisted on us by multiple 24-7 news feeds which turn tragedy into entertainment.

    Over the past few decades, the United States has developed a fascination for violence that does not exist in other countries. Only here do we raise the criminals who shoot our innocents to an elevated status. We do not just report the news, we force feed it to the public over and over and over, flashing images of the perpetrator until his face is burned into our brains and his actions are graphically discussed or, worse, exhibited. Without realizing it, we also condone opinion in the guise of news. To fill air time, the topic is discussed ad nauseum until the reporter’s opinions have crept into the story which extrapolates it into fact.

    Stores sell violent video games and the players get points for ‘kills’. Children play these games. Played mostly in isolation, some can spend hours in front of the screen. Is there any wonder that they might become desensitized to the value of human life? Look at the television lineup. Our TV and much of our movie entertainment are comprised of crime and mayhem. A number of the reality shows do nothing to portray healthy family participation or competition with honor. Some TV shows resort to lewdness, ridicule and injury for entertainment. Even ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ runs a laugh track when someone gets hurt. It is supposed to be funny. How awful.

    Is it any wonder that we can list the mass murders by name easier than we can list the last ten presidents? That we know what Charles Manson did in detail but we may not know what Mother Teresa did for her country’s people? Our country’s values have morphed over time and are influenced by our environment and our society and what we accept as the norm in the media and play. We all have the means to follow our own special path. If we do so with creativity and compassion, we will be better for it. If we understand the importance of love and support for those around us, we will be better for it. I agree with you there.

    There is no placating our psyches, though. It is not just about us healing from the damage wrought by this event. It is about what we choose to accept into our lives, to embrace wholeheartedly and what we do for others in our sphere. We need to face the things that have contributed to our society’s unrest and its morbid fascination for violence. Until we move towards more healthful entertainment, this will happen again. Another person will grow angry and his anger will fester and he may see his shot at fame rests in violence. To make concrete changes, we must assess our own role in it in order to promote change within our families and our society as a whole. In order for us, our children and our society to grow with grace and compassion, we need to practice it ourselves and show, by example, that there is another way to live.

    I know that I have been ranting a bit but it stems from me trying to come to terms with my own grief. I want to discover how I have contributed to this horrible phenomena by accepting the things which have become commonplace in our lives. My travels overseas have shown me that we have, indeed, become a nation onto its own in this matter. I feel sorry for that. No one action will turn it around. My challenge is to find more creativity in my life and welcome others into it through sharing my joy. If we create, we are not destroying. The two cannot coexist in the same action.

  7. I think this post struck the right cord, but the title was very jarring to me. Very out of step with the serious message within.

  8. Barrie, I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for bringing the focus back to where it should be for each of us – with ourselves. Thank you for emphasizing that the only thing we can ‘do’ to help is feel and spread more love.

    Heartfelt gratitude for this sensitive, well-thought post.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Vinita,
      Yes, really the only thing we can control is ourselves and how we respond to these events. They can make us feel so out-of-control and insecure. And maybe that’s part of the intention of the very sick people who perpetrate these horrors. But we have a choice, and we do have love to offer. There’s no better time than right now to offer it.

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