How many times have I felt upset by what I read either in an email or on some social media timeline and felt my heart rate increase, my breathing get rapid and felt my hands almost moving by themselves to fire off an angry post, tweet or reply? Too many times is the answer! It seems to happen more frequently in the recent couple years, perhaps you’ve seen this too in your own life.
When we get too close to something it can easily get under our skin and upset us in ways that lead to instinctive reactions we come to regret later. What I’ve discovered is that given some time to pause and reflect on things I always end up choosing to step back and refrain from angry often rash reactions.
It turns out when we are too close to something that’s happening around us especially something that focuses on important relationships or perhaps money issues we can’t always see the big picture. And when we do see the bigger picture and have some emotional perspective and distance from the events we experience, we can often see options and opportunities we did not know even existed.
That’s why when I was a small boy my mother once suggested I count to ten whenever I got angry. I admit I had a lot of opportunities to count to ten back then. I was the youngest of four children, and the subject of bullying at school and and home. Most of the time I just acted out in anger. But today there are people who understand that when people act out and lash out in anger it’s often because they’re feeling hurt and don’t know how to express it. So it’s good to be compassionate when we see someone who is pushing our buttons and being critical of or even mean to us.
Ways we can step back include:
- Counting to ten
- Taking ten slow deep breaths
- Standing up and pushing back from the keyboard
- Going for a walk
- Listing five things you’re grateful for
- Looking for the good in a situation or person
- Asking yourself how you can be more compassionate
I was waiting for an elevator recently. I heard the “ding!” signifying the arrival of the elevator but I could not see the door open. So I took a few steps back. It turned out the other elevator beside me had arrived and I was simply too close to see it. I didn’t have the proper perspective to see the full range of my opportunities.
And as I realized what happened and chuckled a bit to myself I realized that I’ve often had the same thing happen in different ways in my life because I was too close to things to see the whole picture. If I let my emotions get in the way, if I let my ego get in the way and I’m not mindful of the bigger picture of what’s upsetting me I make poor choices.
And to the extent I can make better choices I have learned I will have a better healthier and happier life. So, here’s the simple lesson, pause and take a step back. Push away from your phone or keyboard. Go for a walk down the hallway or block and back. Count to ten! Then look for the open door and keep stepping forward!
If you appreciate the perspectives and ideas we’re sharing here and think they would benefit others please share this with them! Thank you.
Where acts of kindness live!