Having experienced depression and anxiety in my life, I embarked on a journey to find a better way to be. One lesson that has been repeated, again and again, is learning how to respond to situations with love. I used to believe, and sometimes still do, that I have no choice but to get upset at certain things, and certain people, because they deserve it. Choosing the way I respond to situations is a choice that I never knew I had.
In the simplest ways, it pays to take the time, when I am upset, to take a breath and get my bearings. I have found that my mind and my emotions, tend to want to go in whatever direction they are already headed. If I am feeling good, I find more reasons to feel good, and if I am feeling bad, I quickly find more reasons to feel bad. Mornings, in the past, have been a prime example of this phenomenon. If I am relaxed and wake up early, the morning feels easy, I am friendly with my family and everyone on the road, and I have general sense that all is well. If, on the other hand, I wake up late, everything becomes a cause for upset. If my son is moving at his typical, happy pace, it appears that he is moving intentionally slow, trying to slow me down. Once my mind gets to grumbling, my day can go off the rails quickly.
It is all well and good to recognize that this is happening, but what can I do about it? Sometimes, I have to cut my losses and wait for a calm moment to regroup and start again. There are other times, where a simple breath and a change in my thinking is enough. One of my newest tricks is to keep inspiring books in my car. That way, when I get to my next destination, such as after dropping my son off at school, I can take a moment to read a paragraph, or two, and remind myself that everything is okay.
I learn a great deal by watching our students move through their own lives. I have a student who gets hot blooded rather quickly. I can see that he enjoys being in that state of heightened emotions. I see myself in him. He is a great teacher because he is so open with how he feels. When he is in a good mood, even if he is loud and what some call “obnoxious”, he still gets along, in his own way, with everyone else. People tend to say, “That’s just Bob being Bob.” If, however, something is really bothering him, I have seen him go from one argument to the next, and get progressively more serious about his upset. It is at those times, that a sincere conversation, away from everyone else, tends to reveal something that was scary or challenging for him. A few moments of listening tends to de-escalate Bob and allow him to go back to his happy, loud self.
In the past, I underestimated how important it was to pay attention to the way I feel. Even now, it is a discipline to pay attention to how I am really feeling, and then address my thoughts. I have learned that the thoughts that feel good are more in alignment with who I am, and thoughts that feel bad, while compelling, take me further away from my true self, and everything I desire.
Just like I took Bob aside to hear him out and give him room to get back into alignment with himself, we must do the same thing for ourselves. If you are feeling upset, the first step is to admit it. Then it is important to find time, even a few minutes, to sit down and ask yourself what is bothering you. Hear yourself out from a neutral place. Take a moment to read something inspiring, or even send a friendly email or text to someone else. The important thing is to pause, be gentle with yourself, and then get moving in a new direction. It is a practice worth developing and you can start anytime you decide to.
I frequently mention an online radio show that I do with my co-host and friend, Darrell Fusaro, called Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed. The show is broadcast live on Unity Online Radio, at www. Unity.fm. The show is full of useful tools for remembering that all is well, when our thoughts and emotions are telling us otherwise. Feel free to email me at FunniestThing@ UnityOnlineRadio.org to let me know how things are going, and if you are finding these columns helpful. You can also visit www.TappingIntoGenius. com to read past articles and download a free, inspiring parenting guide.
Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District. He is also co-host of the popular radio show, Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed, live each week at 3 pm on www.UnityOnlineRadio. org. Visit www. TappingIntoGenius.com for more articles and a free, inspirational parenting download.