So, what was I feeling? Answer: Angry. Frustrated. Disgusted. Overwhelmed. Confused. Incompetent. Scared. Fearful. Weak.
As I sat there and stewed for just a few moments, I thought “Wait, where has all this negative emotion coming from?” My initial response (to myself) was that it came from the person that pissed me off! …But that was not the correct answer. The correct answer is that all this negative emotion was coming from ME! I was the one choosing to feel those negative emotions.
Let’s analyze, shall we?
I had a “situation.” Words, actions and my own assumptions were taken by my mind, scrutinized momentarily, and a reaction was produced based on the result of my scrutiny. No matter how deep we go into human psychology and the workings of the mind; that really is the simple description of what happens each time we get a feeling.
We can keep it simple because the answer to solving the problem is simple….
In that moment when I realized all the negative emotion was my own doing and likewise, it could be my own doing to feel better, stronger and more peaceful, I made a decision, as Byron Katie says, to “turn it around.”
How did I do it? Great question! ….
First, I ran the “worst-case-scenario” tool, but I do not like to emphasize that because I do not find it overall to be a very effective tool. As I happen to be a recovering “disaster planner,” however, I would be remiss if I did not mention that I used this tool.
After I ran the “worst-case-scenario,” I turned it around by making an important choice. My choice was to hold the other person in a light of compassion. Not literally though – I’m talking about in my mind, in my heart, in my soul….whatever you want to call it. And so I did so. I forced a feeling of compassion and while it was awkward initially, it didn’t take more than a few moments for it to be genuine. My personal belief is that people are always trying to do their best. Does it mean they cannot do better? No. Rather it means, we are all seeking peace and happiness and doing our best to find it, but our actions are not always consistent. This personal belief of mine helped to muster up the feeling of compassion and then turn it into a genuine feeling of compassion.
Second, I looked at myself and held myself in the light of compassion. Again, not literally – rather, I envisioned myself in my mind and told myself that I am loved no matter what, and that my own mistakes are merely that – mistakes. We all make them. Compassion is what I needed and I gave it to myself.
And then what’s super interesting (although not at all surprising) is that my feelings started to change.
Angry turned into Peaceful.
Frustrated turned into Solutions.
Disgusted turned into Sympathy.
Overwhelmed turned into Tranquility.
Confused turned into Clarity.
Incompetent turned into Capable.
Scared turned into STRENGTH.
Fearful turned into STRENGTH.
Weak turned into STRENGTH.
Ick turned into Ah (ok, it was actually “Oooommmm” but anyway…)
Personal strength! I felt it inside. Strong and stronger.
I’ll take peace over misery any day and that inner awareness of strength leads to a sense of peace. Marcus Aurelius, almost 2000 years ago said, “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
Everyone has inner strength. It exists inside us all. If you are scared, overwhelmed, fearful or feeling weak, in any situation (fill in your own blank), you can find your inner, personal strength.
The Positivity Toolbox Steps for Personal Strength:
- Acknowledgement that you are experiencing negative emotions.
- Acknowledgement that pretty much everyone is doing the best they can (even if we believe they can do better).
- Compassion toward the other person(s) involved.
- Compassion towards yourself.
- Optional: Feel free to run the “worst-case-scenario” tool if need be.
These 3-4 steps will inevitably bring out your Marcus Aurelius.