– Swedish proverb
The Uni-verse has really been testing me this week, and this morning was especially challenging. My office is in a large medical complex with a pretty busy parking lot. After looking behind me both ways, I carefully backed out of my parking spot, when suddenly I felt BANG! A car sped around the bend and I hit it before I even had a chance to see it.
The driver of the other car was a very angry elderly man. After I asked him if he was all right, my memory of being hit by a car several years ago and all the feelings surrounding my accident came back. I then quietly said, “Sir, you should not be speeding in a parking lot. You could seriously hurt someone.” He then started yelling at me for several minutes, including while I was on the phone with my insurance company. I stayed calm while he continued to yell and at one point he said, “Shut the hell up, lady!” That’s when I paused, looked him square in the eye and firmly just said, “Do not speak to me that way.” The look on his face immediately changed so much that he almost looked like another person.
He then apologized to me several times for losing his temper. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling angry with him and that it didn’t take every ounce of strength to not indulge that anger and yell right back at him while he was yelling at me. I was also feeling a lot of fear, mostly from the trauma of my past accident, which suddenly resurfaced. And then he reminded me of a very important spiritual principle that can often be forgotten in the presence of strong emotions.
He apologized again and showed me his arm which had a bandage over the vein where one would get blood drawn or insert a needle for an IV and said, “Miss, again I’m very sorry I lost my temper. I just came from my doctor and it didn’t go very well and I’m just so upset and I know it’s no excuse.” And then my heart just sank.
Sometimes we can’t possibly know what someone is going through, but if they are negative or angry, then they are suffering and it’s only our higher selves that can recognize this suffering. Our egos just respond to anger and frustration with more anger and frustration. Our higher selves find compassion in these situations. And yes, I realize sometimes we need to dig really deep to find that compassion.
I shared this thought with my staff after the accident and my assistant immediately responded with, “So now we have to justify the assholes?” No! It isn’t about justifying anyone’s behavior and therefore accepting it into your life. It’s about understanding it and not allowing yourself to fall with them. I’m not saying that it isn’t challenging, but the more you are able to do it, the better YOU will feel because you’ve got a little more love in your heart and a little less negativity.
I remember doing a yoga training with Baron Baptiste years ago when he talked about the concept of the hot potato, and the image of this often comes to mind when I’m in a situation with a challenging individual like I was this morning. There will be people who live with anger or negativity for whatever reason. Think of those things as hot potatoes. Many of these people will try to pass their hot potato over to us in an effort to get rid of it. But it’s ultimately up to us whether we choose to accept it and burn ourselves with it or not.
This negativity doesn’t always take the form of someone outright screaming at us, as was the case for me today. Maybe there are people you know that constantly criticize others or criticize you in an effort to relieve themselves of their own feelings of unworthiness (more suffering).
Unfortunately, this suffering is often compounded by more negativity, as many people do not realize they are living in darkness and don’t have the capacity or tools to deal with their situation. It’s up to those of us on the spiritual path that have had glimpses of light to rise above their suffering and not make it our own. Not only does entertaining someone else’s negativity lower our own vibrations, but it also will lead to our own biochemical and physiological imbalances.
Also, by shining our own light on someone else’s pain, it increases the likelihood of resolving the situation or relationship positively and creating more light. My angry man this morning may not have apologized and shared his feelings with me had I responded to his anger with more anger. I would have walked away fuming and just thought he was a total jerk and he probably would have eventually felt guilt over his behavior because he actually turned out to be a really nice guy.
It’s not always easy, but find compassion and spread the love as often as you can, for your own sake as well as everyone else’s. You will be glad you did.
In love and in health,
Dr. Sandra Olic, NMD.
Check out her website here.