I found myself getting short-tempered with my kids this morning.
These are a few of the thoughts that ran through my head:
- Why are these kids so awful?
- What aren’t I a better parent?
- I meditated this morning, I should be handling this better.
- I obviously have some deep-seated emotional issues, I should really get some professional help before I ruin everything for everyone forever. (A little melodramatic, perhaps?)
The mounting criticism and self-judgement on top of the initial irritation began to feel REALLY icky. Thankfully, I had dishes to wash (my absolute favorite form of therapy, actually – it always does the trick).
I took a few deeps breaths. I stopped to ask myself what was going on: What was I feeling? Agitated, stressed, strung-tight. Oh, right, I have a lot I want to do today in only a few short hours, and it’s been a whole week like that. My agitation is my body’s way of calling attention to my feeling stressed.
So then the question became, can I rework my day and my thinking to feel more relaxed about the tasks ahead of me? Of course I can! Suddenly, I feel so much lighter and happier. I notice my kids in the other room, playing quietly together. I remember what a delight they are.
The lesson in this, and what I want to share with you, is two-fold:
- Our emotions are our messengers, helping us to recognize when things are out of balance.
- The way through begins with acknowledging the emotion for a moment (but not getting caught in the story of it – my agitation wasn’t actually about my kids, it was about me). The emotion needs to be seen, so the message can be communicated, and then it will dissipate. The longer we ignore it, the louder it gets.
Without my rising agitation this morning, I would have continued plodding through my day, feeling cranky and stressed. That’s no way to go through life! Instead, I can choose to enjoy the process, be gentle with myself, celebrate what I accomplish.
What are the messages you are receiving right now? How are they coming to you? What will you do in response?
Please share in the comments below. I would love to hear your story.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks