The world seems full of strife and suffering these days. It can take a huge toll on the way we feel on every level, and it can sneak up on us when we least expect it. For instance, the other night as I was trying to fall asleep, a very uncomfortable and uneasy feeling washed over me, complete with sadness and palpable anxiety. I did what I normally do-analyzed it and traced it back to its most recent origin. Only then could I find my peace again.
The culprit was The Evening News. I had checked the news prior to settling in for the night. My heart broke into a million pieces about the story of the 22-year-old young man who was transported home after having been released from captivity in another country. He died shortly after. My heart broke for his parents, for the life he might have had, and for the unbelievable cruelty he endured at the hands of other human beings. I don’t know about you, but I get sick to my stomach when I think about the way that cruelty is part of our human legacy.
We are capable of such great things: great love, great kindness, and …unfortunately, great cruelty, all of us. Every day we are faced with opportunities to be complacent and removed, cruel and ignorant, or kind and loving. Each of the choices has a domino effect that goes on and on in different ways. So we must choose carefully in the moment, and that’s not always easy.
If we choose complacency and disconnection, the people around us will feel insignificant and invisible, and their true potential will wither away from the world forever. That means that every person they might have inspired and encouraged along their true path will hear nothing, and so may not reach their own potential.
If we choose cruelty and ignorance, we inflict lasting pain and suffering that gets stuck in the cells of the people we target. They live in a low grade state of fear, never able to relax into themselves. In perpetual survival mode, they are always ready to flee or fight, and they never quite feel safe to be themselves. Cut off from any kind of wellbeing, they shrink and cave in.
The truth is when one suffers, we all suffer in some way.
If instead, we choose to be kind and loving, even in the presence of complacency and cruelty, it flows like the most refreshing water… cooling anger, drowning out fear, filling in all the places where emptiness and sadness used to be. Kindness and love are exponentially more powerful than the alternatives, it takes only the smallest gesture of kindness to begin a healing that will go on and on and on.
When one is healed, a part of all of us is healed.
Loving kindness is our native language. When we speak it and live it, everything makes more sense to us, and we feel so much better.
So, about the evening news, I know I can’t change what happened, but I can choose to turn up the light in my heart and double down on my conscious intentional action to be kind, and that calms my anxiety. There is such peace in kindness.
Terry Barnett-Martin, LMFT, Licensed Relationship Therapist and Life Purpose Coach, is the award winning author of Tending Fences: Building Safe and Healthy Relationship Boundaries. (949)709-2445 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Websites:www.tendingfences.com www.truepurposecounseling.com