Before starting this post, be sure to check out this video below about Paradigm Shifts. It does a great job of showing what happens (quite frequently at times) when we start to TRY to understand what it is like for other people in times of frustration. I can’t speak to the actual intent of the creator of the video, but it’s a really heartwarming message.
So what is a paradigm shift? Quite simply, it is a change from one way of thinking to another (http://www.taketheleap.com/define.html) and is thought to be transformational in nature. I may be offering a mere cursory perspective on the subject, but I’m not here to give a lecture. I would simply like to posit that given a change of perspective, an amazing transformation can occur. For example, imagine you are in your car, driving to… wherever (the drug store, work, or the yarn barn), and you have planned the travel time pretty well (so you think). You are playing Adele at full blast as your scream out your own personal version of “Set Fire To the Rain.” You are thinking to yourself “My singing is pretty good! Maybe I can make a youtube video, get lots of hits, and may my way onto a talk show! I am sooo smart and cool…” As you merge onto the freeway, your focus quickly changes as traffic comes to a dead stop. “F*ck!” you say to yourself, either in your head or even out loud. You planned for traffic, but not this! This isn’t right. Where are all these *ssholes going anyway? Shouldn’t they be working, having brunch, making scarves or something? So you eek your way to your exit, and as you are about to take the offramp, you notice a car quickly sneaks into the lane, YOUR LANE, without waiting their turn with the rest of the folks. They do it so fast that it makes you hit your brakes rather abruptly. “How dare they?!” You want to give them the “I hate you look,” but as they are in front of you, you are S.O.L. (sh*t out of luck.) So you make sure to tailgate them so they know they did wrong. You notice something about them – anything really: their car make and model, any bumper stickers with stupid personal views and opinions, and indication of their age or gender. You want to hate them. You have good reason to. But what of it?
Do you want to hate them? Do you want to teach them a lesson? Do you want them to suffer? Do you want them to feel the anger that you feel being slighted? Possibly. Probably. Maybe. Only you can answer that. Chances are you feel compelled to see the other person in a negative light. But holding that negativity, with nowhere to go, may not be good for anyone. After all, long after they pull away and leave your sight, you will still have unresolved anger towards a person you might possibly never meet. Like holding on to a toxic poison. Another driver may piss you off, and probably will during the holidays, and that driver will get the wrath of the first driver. By the time you get home, who gets the wrath next? Your family? Your neighbors? Your pet parakeet Charlie? When you’re on edge everyone is annoying. And what’s worse, if you are alone, the only one to beat up is yourself. Nice. So instead of enjoying your reruns of NCIS, GLEE or Jersey Shore, you are marinating in stew of your own vitriolic hatred. Bravo!
So… where is this going? You can change. You can release the anger. You can change your perspective on things and release that which causes you discomfort. This is only my personal viewpoint here, so please take it as such. This has helped me deal with the anger I feel towards others, and I am simply showing you all how my mind works in such instances.
So here goes. Take this person. Hmmm. Her name is Laura Spaghetti. She drives a beat up Honda Civic 1998. On the bumper there is a faded blue sticker which reads “My child was student of the month at HoneyBees Elementary.” So they cut you off. They are horrible people. They deserve derision right? RIGHT? Well… what if they didn’t? Hear me out. What if they weren’t out to get you, weren’t doing it to get the better of you? What if they had a really good reason for doing their driving faux pas?
Now here’s the fun part. What IS the reason? What COULD be the reason? Have you ever been so pressed for time you absolutely had no regard for the feelings of other drivers? Ever? I have. I have had some times where I have been seriously late for something very important. I have been in a hurry at times when I fear for the safety and well-being of a friend or a family member. I have had horrible days – truly dismal days, where I was so distraught I simply couldn’t get my sh*t together and where driving was even difficult. I have been nervous, distracted, in love, in jealousy, in hatred, beyond worry, and damn near hysterical. When it comes down to it, I have had times when I have driven like a jerk, and was grateful that the other person didn’t take it out on me, didn’t blame me, didn’t hurt me or make me feel worse than I already had been.
So I think of Miss Laura Spaghetti, and what she might be dealing with. I think that she might have a child but can’t afford a new car. I think that also that she might not truly like her job if she has little choice but to continue just to support her family. She could have just gotten fired and is wondering where to go to make sure she has food for the next week.
I think of these things not because I believe them wholeheartedly. Truth be told, she could be on her way to IKEA to buy some forks, and didn’t want to wait all day to get off the freeway. Hmmm… But… one way of thinking puts me in a bad mindset, and carries forth through my day. The other way of the thinking, where I try to understand the other point of view, allows me the freedom to truly rid myself of that poison.
The holidays can bring out the best in people and consequently the worst as well. I sometimes hate to try to see the other point of view, because it isn’t fair. But what’s less fair than that is having to argue with that stranger in my head all day long. I really don’t have the time, nor do I care to take on that task. I want to be happy. I want to understand rather than judge.
I want to be free – and so I am.