“Nextdoor” sidewalk arguments, leaf blower debates, politics, sign stealing, virtual learning, storms…it goes on and on.
I am reminded of Tom Petty’s (RIP) song, “Jammin’ Me.” These1987 song lyrics definitely resonate today, albeit with different topics, but providing the same message: STOP IT ALREADY! We are constantly bombarded with angry pronouncements and opinions that tip the scales of civility and good taste.
My younger son’s college parent Facebook group has become so toxic I have turned off notifications.
It is pretty amazing-and sad-to think about the negative energy that we are faced with daily if we dare to express a thought or opinion that someone doesn’t agree with. In this parent group, it is sad to read the comments from parents who are projecting their anger about COVID-19 onto the school administration which is doing its best to educate thousands of students in very difficult times. In my neighborhood of Bellaire, Texas, there is a sidewalk debate that rages on day after day (I have turned off Nextdoor notifications on that topic, too.) Who would have thought that leaf blowers or sidewalks could trigger people so that they plunge to a level of such negativity that becomes uncomfortable to witness?
Last week, a friend posted on Facebook, “Don’t Forget to Be Kind to People Because You Never Know What They are Going Through.” Ironically at the same time, a Twitter friend posted, “If you are kind, you don’t have to be reminded to be kind.” That statement gives me pause.
I believe that the latter adage is true. But is it possible that in the year 2020 that we as a society have been driven to such a level of exhaustion and aggravation that we have to remind ourselves to be kind to others?
How you do one thing is how you do everything.
This is one of the foundations of iPEC (the coaching program I attended). Think about it. It certainly makes sense, doesn’t it? Alternatively, it is possible that there are times when we are sick and tired and frustrated and as a result we may treat others in ways that may not be our “normal.” Freeway anger, long waits at the doctor, difficulty not living our lives as we did just a year ago can result in angry outbursts or passive-aggressive behavior that is not our typical way of interacting. We all have those days.
I think about friends and relatives in Lake Charles who have gone through not one hurricane, but two, and are dealing with the pain and anguish that comes from rebuilding after a natural disaster. Many friends this year have experienced tragic losses and their grief lingers and affects their perceptions of life itself.
Many recent events have left us feeling out of control and when we feel out of control, we might feel that we have few if any options. As a result, our stress increases and it is difficult to maintain our typical level of behavior. Difficult, but not impossible. What is possible is choosing how you want to react. How you respond to others or situations is entirely in your control. It might not seem that it is, but yeah, it is.
If you have coached with me, you may have taken an assessment that measures how you think, feel, and behave, in normal everyday situations and how you think, feel, and behave in stressful situations. This assessment is amazingly accurate if you answer the questions honestly. What a person learns from this assessment is that they can “level-up” to how they want to respond and perceive their world. It is empowering and liberating to take control and immediately see the amazing results!
Once a client I was working with was avoiding family gatherings because his sister-in-law constantly made passive-aggressive remarks toward him and his wife. As you might imagine, the family outings resulted in arguments and abrupt departures. Once the client understood that he did not have to “dance” with his sister in law, meaning that he did not have to engage with her when she tried to provoke him, he felt so much more empowered and was able to “level-up” to behavior that was much more satisfying and less stressful. He was in control and realized that he did not have to lower himself to a negative energy level. How he wanted to behave was entirely his choice.
This mindset applies to situations as well. The traffic does not have power over you, it is the influence you allow it to have over your thoughts and feelings.
Yes, we all feel jammed up at times, however, we can choose to level up and choose how we want to react and respond. At the same time, it is also important to be kind to ourselves. Self-care is a hot topic these days, and it makes sense to take care of your physical and emotional needs. In the past months, I have felt very jammed up. My intentional part-time coaching practice had become full-time, and although that is satisfying, I am quite aware that I don’t function well with that schedule. So, I cleared some time on my calendar, set limits with availability, and went out of town with a friend to hike and have some time in nature. That made a huge difference in my outlook!
You know your limits. It’s possible that you have come close to reaching them in the past few months. What shift in perspective would benefit you right now? For starters, a change in your environment can provide an immediate shift whereas a mindset reset takes time. This is an opportunity to stop and assess how you are perceiving your world. Take action, and be kind to yourself and others. We all can use kindness and compassion right now.
Coaching can help you with a mindset-reset. Contact Arlene to learn more.