Dear Ted: I continue to watch people, including myself, become so reactive and immediately get angry or snappy at others. I see this on television in the news, on the roads driving, and at the stores. What happens that makes people so angry and reactive? Thanks, Anita
Dear Anita: We now live in a world of immediate information with media and social network where there is a level of continuous negative information making people feel, consciously or unconsciously, unsafe and reactive. Your timing of this question is so appropriate as we enter a season where many religions and organizations recognize a time to be kind and loving to one another.
For many our world has normalized negativity to such a level that people do not even recognize the level of negative energy they may be projecting out onto others. The other day, I was listening to Tim Rivera from Rivera Funeral Homes speak about the English word "pause" and how taking time and pausing can allow room for peace. The Spanish word for this is paz.
Becoming conscious, and allowing yourself to pause before you speak, react and connect with others can allow you the opportunity to come from a peaceful place rather than an attacking stance. Our brain does not feel safe as we absorb the negativity around us. This may not even be a conscious aspect, but as you hear, watch and feel negativity, your brain prepares for survival and puts you in a defensive or attacking mode. This mental state can become so habitual that it causes people to stay away from you and build levels of disconnect.
Taking the time to pause before you react allows your brain to move out of the fight and flight gears. A pause allows some distance between you and whatever is irritating you. This emotional space helps keep you from feeling overwhelmed and fearful, which usually comes out as attacking, making people not want to be close to you. When other people try to shrink away, this causes disconnect as well.
As stimuli comes into your world, taking a moment to assess the information, checking in with yourself can help navigate your internal feelings as well as how you react to the external world around you. In a time where there is so much negative stimuli entering our world, taking time to be selective of what we choose to fill your heart with and how we wish to share our heart, is extremely important.
Taking a second before reacting can bring peace - la paz - to your heart and allow warmth and a possible place of love and less fear for others. May we all pause and react from a peaceful heart rather than a place of attack and disconnect. Internal peace can radiate from you and be a gift to the world.
Thank you for the question. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.
Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Ted Wiard, LPCC, CGC, Founder of Golden Willow Retreat at (575) 776-2024 or GWR@newmex.com.
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