Listening or reading to people talk about politics when they are full of anger is upsetting to me. It upsets my peace. Then I remember what a problem I have with conflict and having people upset about one thing or another. I’m amazed at how upset I can get over things that haven’t happened yet, or things I imagine will happen, or things that I think are happening. My perception makes all the difference.
This morning I let my anxiety about imagined future events affect how I acted in the present. I made a major case out of Nutella on a dish towel. On a chart outlining crimes against humanity, this infraction would never be included. Yet, this morning, I acted as if it was a much bigger deal than it is. It came with a great cost. I robbed my children of a pleasant morning because I was hell-bent on receiving justice and a confession.
When I realized that I was overreacting, I had to face myself and ask myself, “Why is this such a big deal to me right now?”
I didn’t like what I saw but I was grateful for the level of honesty I was exhibiting with myself. The drama is all in my own head. This realization knocked me flat. Pulling myself together I apologized to my children. They are amazing people and rose to the occasion.
I took a shower hoping to wash away the residual guilt I felt. My thoughts were so all consuming that I forgot my shower routine and couldn’t remember if I had washed my hair yet or not. I washed it again. Today, I’m extra clean.
I got dressed and headed for the computer. I want to write more uplifting pieces because I desperately want my perspective to be more positive. It is hard work. When I hear other people list their grievances with life, with others, with politics, with religion, with the idea of God, with their neighbors, or their family, their words can weigh me down. Sometimes I feel angry. When this happens, I know I’ve let too much in. We all hurt. We all have bad things happen to us, things we do not deserve. We all have people treat us poorly and we in turn treat others poorly from time to time. (Just like I did with the Nutella incident this morning.)
Getting upset about things like Nutella, or health care reform, or some such politician, tells us much more about ourselves than the issue or other person. When I read political statements made by friends and family that are opposite my own, it isn’t the statement itself that taps into my emotion, it is the feeling of separation, of not being understood or respected. When I read or hear things like, “any sane person would believe. . .” or “I don’t know how any body can think differently. . . are they stupid?” and I believe something that is the exact opposite, I feel insulted and angry inside. A division has been created where one doesn’t have to exist.
While I can definitely impact and influence the world and people around me, the only person I change is myself. When I get hung up trying to fix the Nutella criminals of the world, I’m missing the larger picture and I’m not being honest with myself. I’m not owning my own garbage. I’m putting it on someone else’s barge and shipping it out to sea. No matter where I put it, it is still my garbage.
And so, readers of strong conviction, the next time you find yourself getting emotionally involved with an issue, belief, or argument ask yourself why?
Why is this so important to me?
What does it mean to me?
How does it affect the daily details of my life?
How does it impact the quality of my life, my pursuit of happiness, my personal liberties?
Don’t quote a commandment or rule or party platform or some philosophy out there. Make it personal.
Don’t expect your answer to be logical or even sane but expect it to be honest and genuine.
When I stop trying to fix the world, I begin to focus on the things about myself that I can fix. I want to be less concerned about fixing the world outside myself and more concerned with fixing myself so I can become the kind of person who would contribute to a kinder, gentler world. I want to be more thoughtful.