We are amazing creatures. Our essence is truly good. Not a dualistic good, but inherently so. Years ago, I realized I had been mistaken my entire life. I had to do something about it. This is that something. It takes much concerted effort to change our lives, but once we choose to do so and continue making that choice with every breath and every step that we take, that is the essence of transformation. There are countless opportunities every day, and we are blessed to be in this together.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
The Weapon of Being Upset: Revisited
People can easily and understandably become upset or frustrated. Sometimes, life doesn’t unfold the way we plan. Sometimes, people do not react the way we think they will react. However, people can use the idea of being upset or angry as a weapon to control others.
This is not about the reason for being upset; it’s about being upset with the purpose to get others to back down or shut down or to control a situation or people. This is the same reasoning children have a tantrum. Their parents don’t want their children to be upset, and so immediately react to rectify the situation. The child has become the one with the power.
Who wants someone else to be upset? Not many are malicious, wishing ill on others. Mostly, people don’t want to see someone upset, which is where the source of power of this weapon lives. Someone that is upset tends to shake things up a bit. The mind wants to preserve the status quo. It wants to remain static in an ever changing world. It prefers to be lazy as opposed to adapt, evolve or even just to listen. When someone becomes upset, all of these habits are jeopardized.
The way in which we react in these moments is crucial. We, of course, have the option of backing down from what we’re saying or doing. Often, this is the wisest course because mostly it’s not worth a confrontation or engagement with someone. However, this option teaches others that if they simply get upset or appear angry they eventually get their way. This lesson can be difficult to break once it becomes routine.
This dynamic can be highly destructive in families and small communities. We can see this same dynamic within groups of animals within nature. The loudest, most bombastic creature doesn’t rule purely by physical prowess, but more by intimidation and fear. If the pack leader had to prove his prowess to everyone within the pack, he would probably weaken and become defeated. This is a tactic.
We can also be very mindful in moments where people use this weapon of being upset. This is not easy. We must first know our thoughts and our feelings. These can easily be inflamed in these situations. Then, our reaction to the person who is being upset becomes the focus of attention in the engagement. This is a deflection and is highly common as it is very instinctual.
Whenever we expose this weapon in others or ourselves, we must be unshakable, yet remain open and aware. This can require so much effort if we’re not confident in our presence and actions. To remain still while still open and aware is something we must continuously reinforce within ourselves. As we face more intense situations, gradually our confidence will improve. We’ll be able to practice in the heat of someone being upset, or someone projecting their pain and suffering onto us.
Once the mind acquires a target, all the senses focus on that target and all the defensive mechanisms begin preparing to fire. The mind is very good at dismantling something or someone, determining the weaknesses of the target. This skill can either work for us & others or against us & others. Again, these are deeply ingrained, nearly instinctual responses. By understanding the weaknesses of others, we can work through these weaknesses or we can exploit them.
In these most difficult moments, we must return to patience, compassion and understanding. These help stabilize the mind, diminishing the chance of becoming inflamed as defensive arrows begin flying in our direction. The arrows are designed to pierce the stability of our presence, to shake us up and expose our own defensive mechanisms. Often, these arrows keep being fired until the desired effect is reached. We can even back down or retreat, and this can make the situation worse. The mind can go into auto-pilot, firing all of the arrows until the quiver is empty.
When dealing with someone in the throes of being upset, we have to become the true spiritual warrior. Our quiver is filled with patience, compassion and understanding. It is so easy to set up the person that is attacking us as our own target. Certainly, it is easy to do, considering the amount of pain and suffering that is being spread. However, by setting up the target, we’re setting ourselves up for continuing the cycle of pain and suffering. We keep these alive whenever we retaliate, whenever we don’t see what’s actually happening.
We can apply patience, compassion and understanding for not just the person that is being upset, but for ourselves simultaneously. This is how we respond. We break the cycle, not continue it. We open up, not shut down. We don’t let someone gain control over our hearts and minds. We become the light of our presence and awareness. We can do this.
When the weapon of being upset is being used, we must retain our presence and awareness and apply patience, compassion and understanding. These arrows, these painful words don’t have to damage us. We can remain constant; we can weather this storm. This situation is impermanent; the arrows are mostly words masquerading as actions. These arrows are covered in sorrow, fired with pain and burning with suffering.
We can be the peace and calm that is desperately needed. And, only we can supply this. The quiver of peace and calm is infinite, whereas the quiver of anger and retaliation is always limited.