Originally published on LinkedIn
Ugh! Every time I hear of another shooting, or I turn on the news and hear a shouting match between talking heads, or watch violent protests, sporting hateful signs and people spewing hate. Every time I see a bitter Facebook post, based on reactivity, or a tasteless video about how we need to rid the world of one person or another, one group or another, I feel deep sadness.
Yes, the world is changing; yes, there are things happening that each of us disagree with (and strongly!) Yes our frustration levels are high. Yes, there are things we can’t control. But the sadness comes because, our passions and anger and hatred and frustrations, cloud our ability to choose an effective path toward change. We, as a culture, are choosing reactivity, noise and threats to accomplish our desires.
Do those things work? Sure, sometimes you can shock somebody into behaving the way you want. Fear is a weapon that does have some impact. Being the loudest voice, can certainly shut somebody up. However, those tools (or shall we say weapons) make an immediate impact, but never long lasting change. They make you feel good for a moment; they cause you to feel vindicated. But they only smash the frustration that has built up within you for a moment, and soon the feelings of hatred, anger, retaliation, need to blame swirl up again.
What if you could create long term change? What if your desires could ultimately be accomplished. What if you could begin to hear all sides of an argument or matter at hand, so that you can really come up with a wise, long term solution?
Is this possible? Of course. But it takes choosing your battles. It involves knowing your triggers and why you are so bothered (which is not always what you think), so that you can make an educated assessment, and then act from a position of power. Fear and reactivity come from a place of powerlessness. You can overcome these ineffective ways of dealing with life. It takes commitment to change for the long term good.
A few techniques to begin to make this change are simple, but not always easy to implement. For one day only, as soon as you notice you are triggered by something and your gut wants retaliation or revenge, take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, then allow yourself to detach from the drama. Recognize that by allowing yourself to get sucked into the vacuum of chaos only takes up all your energy and causes even more frustration. Physically and emotionally resist the vacuum by taking a few moments to ground yourself into the wisdom that really does reside in you, like a tree growing roots.
Ask yourself a question like, “So what can I do about that now that will have a long term impact?” Then take action. Wise, determined, powerful. It works, but it takes practice. But there’s no better time to start strengthening those muscles than this moment. Breathe….Begin.
Marianne Clyde, LMFT, relationship expert, keynote speaker, best selling author