I Could See Peace Instead of This
I used to love the drama... Big emotions? Yes, please. Intensity? Bring it on.
Drama made me feel alive. It was the secret sauce that kept me from feeling bored with the routine of everyday life.
I loved to get worked up over what was happening in other people's lives, too, and involve myself in situations that were none of my business.
I don't do that much anymore.
Andy jokes that "Kimberly doesn't do drama unless she's getting paid for it" and to a certain degree that's true. I've heard so many stories of blame and victimhood in my years as a counselor that I've developed an extremely low tolerance for drama in my personal life. A few months ago I spent some time with extended family and friends. I was a part of a captive audience in a group of about 25 people in a somewhat isolated location. Each night after the "adults" went to bed, the "kids" (all in our 40s and 50s, lol) would stay up late and some old issue would rise up and the tension along with it. The stories were compelling, but the weekend was uncomfortable. I couldn't just walk away and had to really practice sitting in the midst of the tension, staying uninvolved, and as emotionally detached as I could. I had to remind myself that even things that felt like a personal attack had little to do with me.
It's not easy to stay calm when intense emotions are swirling all around you. I certainly haven't mastered the ability. But I have learned a couple of tricks which, of course, I'm going to share with you.
The first tip is about remaining as objective as possible. There are two guidelines from The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz that can really help with this: 1) Don't take anything personally, and 2) Don't make assumptions.
Don't take anything personally. Sometimes you are going to get caught in the crossfire. Understand that the way that people treat you says more about them and their mental/emotional state than it does about you. Making it about you will only cause you suffering.
Don't make assumptions. Can you read minds? Me neither. Accept the fact that you don't know what's really going on and that you don't have all the information necessary to make an accurate assessment. Your mind will try to fill in the blanks with what seems to make sense from your own perspective—understand that this is not the truth.
The second tip is about recognizing that you get to choose how you feel about anything. Yep, anything. It's a choice. There's a lesson in the metaphysical text A Course in Miracles that states "I could see peace instead of this".
[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]Even if your reaction comes hard and fast, you can choose how long you are willing to stay in a place of discontent.[endif]
I absolutely recommend that you begin your practice of this with small stuff—the dishes left in the sink, the aggressive driver, the curt co-worker, or the noisy neighbor. When you notice that you are feeling resentful or hurt, just say to yourself "I could see peace instead of this" and see if the negative reaction dissipates.
As you get more proficient you will be able to apply this to the BIG stuff, but please, give yourself some grace. You are human, your equilibrium is going to get disturbed, just notice it and do your best to make the choice for peace.
Objectivity requires refraining from judgment and interpretation. It's about making a decision to observe what is happening without creating a story around it. The judgment and interpretation are where the suffering stems from and when you see this, peace becomes available to you.