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.
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