I was approaching a stop sign the other day, and as I came to a stop the other person at the intersection threw their hands up like they were fed up with me, flipped me off, and sped away. I sat there confused – what did I do?! I came to a complete stop, I even waited for him to go as he was there first, but something I did clearly angered him. Then the phrase, “its not you, its me” came to mind. I remembered all the times in just the past few days when I’d been annoyed with my circumstances or pissed at myself for something, and in that emotional state no one stood a chance... The kids repeatedly reciting the same line of a movie, the cat meowing nonstop, my husband singing loud – any and all of these things could trigger an explosion that had nothing to do with them. As an advocate and practitioner of mindfulness I try to see through these situations and control my emotional responses; but honey, I am far from a monk – and when I’m in a shame spiral, everyone is collateral damage. I have an event called the Stress Less Workshop, that I lead for businesses and corporate events. At this event I essentially walk them through my Stress Less Guidebook and the exercises within it. There is one exercise that tends to make people the most uncomfortable, and its one of my favorites. Not just because I like making people a little uncomfortable :), but also because I think it allows us to take a big step in relieving the root causes of our stress. It’s called, the Values Assessment. You see, we all have a set of core values – things that really matter to us, for example: loyalty, humor, cleanliness, creativity, honesty, achievement, fitness, and so on... When we neglect, or do something that violates one of our own core values, it makes us feel terrible. We get angry with ourselves, and we slip into a deep shame spiral. It’s poisonous; toxic to our mind, body, and spirit, and from that emotional state we spew venom. We yell at our kids, we get annoyed with our co-workers, and we flip off strangers at an intersection. None of those responses have anything to do with those people – they’re all about us. When our behavior is out of alignment with our values, we are operating with a cracked foundation and every little thing that happens (or doesn’t happen) makes us feel worse. So, what's the remedy? Get back into alignment with your values. If you value cleanliness and your house is a mess – take care of it, and notice how much lighter you feel. If you value humor but you’ve been taking yourself too seriously – find something or someone who can make you laugh, laugh at yourself! Laugh as loud and as hard as you can and notice how much happier you feel. Honor what matters most to you, and everything else will get a little easier. You may even find yourself smiling at the stranger at the intersection instead. Please know that you're going to mess up. We are going to get out of alignment over and over again – we’re humans y’all and that’s just a part of the human experience. The gift is in knowing what’s really going on when we feel ‘off,’ and having the tools and the willingness to fix it. On the flip side of this – give the other humans a little grace. We’re all stressed out and trying to figure out life in general, and the current circumstances of our world make it all that much more intense. When someone lashes out at you for no apparent reason, remember that the way people treat us often has more to do with them, than it does with us. Try to offer grace and understanding instead of judgment. Offer forgiveness and love instead of retaliation. Once we know better, we must do better. May you make the time and energy needed to honor yourself, and re-align with what matters most to you. Your happiness is worth it.
With love and gratitude,
Ps – if you’re interested in doing the Values Assessment exercise I mentioned, I have a version of it available in the FREEBIES section of my website.
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