The other day a friend and I were talking about how frustrated we are with so many aspects of this pandemic: being unable to do the things we usually love to do in the summer, the fact that every trip to the grocery store requires strategic planning, people refusing to wear masks and being irresponsible in general, and she said something that stuck with me: “I’m tired of being so angry all the time.”
Anger is not part of my normal emotional make up (but then, is anything normal these days?), but lately, I’ve been feeling angry and frustrated just about every day. My blood pressure spikes almost every time I check the news as I get increasingly angry (a spike that is usually followed by a feeling of despair, but that’s a topic for another post.) And I realized that, like my friend, I, too, am tired of feeling angry. Every. Single. Day.
Of course, ultimately, that feeling of anger goes back to wanting to control the uncontrollable. This article helped me understand that what’s at the root of this particular anger is actually fear.
So, I’m going to work on changing my reaction to things I can’t control – because how I respond is the only thing I can control. The quote above offers the perfect 3-step process to work on doing that.
Accept what is
We’re in the middle of an out-of-control pandemic in this country, and it’s going to be with us for a very long time. I don’t have the power to change what other people are doing or not doing to get this thing under control. Rather than allowing myself to be in constant fight or flight mode, I can choose to change my reaction to circumstances rather than expect circumstances to change to accommodate me.
Let go of what was
I can’t tell you how many times over the last few months I’ve said “I just want my life back the way it was on March 14!” That was the last day I did anything normal before everything was locked down. But the more I think about everything I can’t do anymore, the more depressed and angry I’m going to get. So this is where the real work will be for me: I need to stop clinging to wanting to have things back the way they were. I keep reminding myself of the Rumi quote “Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead, let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?”
Have faith in what will be
And that, of course, is were the real power of this process lies: maintaining a positive attitude about the future, and trusting that at the end of all this upheaval, we will emerge into a better world, is what faith is all about.
Ultimately, the question I need to ask myself whenever I slide back into reacting with anger and fear is this: Do I want to live in love or live in fear? I don’t know about you, but for me, the answer is pretty clear, so it’s time I align my actions with love rather than with anger and fear.