Are you currently surrounded by anyone taking their out stress out on you? Are you inadvertently taking your stress out on others? Being on the receiving end of anyone’s frustrations and anger is not pleasant; even less so when conflict arises between strangers, work mates or any other situation where you find yourself the brunt of someone’s bruising (conflict in the family is a whole other conversation).
With all the horrible stuff going on in the world combined with the intense pace at which most people live, stress is a given. All you have to do is go out your front door to see the fatigue and unhappiness on so many people’s faces.
While we do not always know what is going on behind closed doors, it is good for all of us to remember that everyone has challenges to cope with. How we choose to meet our difficulties makes all the difference in how we present ourselves to the world. When we face them head-on with courage, trust and calm, we don’t need to take out our anger and frustrations on anyone; least of all ourselves; which is the root cause of most, if not all anger.
Easier said than done though, right? In my world as a bereaved mom for the last fourteen years, I’ve had my own share of stress and anxiety to deal with. Though I’ve always managed to separate this aspect of my grief from those outside of my family, whenever I encounter angry and rude people in public, it can still upset the equilibrium I’ve strived hard to maintain for my overall health over the years. A quick smile or hello isn’t always enough to make a positive impact on someone who is angry and stressed out (though I have found often it is, even if it lasts just for that brief exchange between us).
I am a firm believer in the power of kindness and its domino effect. No matter how angry, hurt or stressed someone is, they will always remember any small act of kindness someone extended them at some time or another, even if they have chosen not to consciously respond to it.
When I was first bereaved, in order to counteract some of my pain after losing my daughter, I experimented with smiling at others who I thought looked as miserable as me, to try and counteract some of my enormous pain. Not only did it light a tiny fire of something positive inside of me in that millisecond I chose to smile at someone, but the exchange of energy triggered something positive in most (if not all) of them as well. Back then, I was completely doing it to help me feel better. Now, I smile at people automatically when the moment feels right as a way to brighten both of our days just a little.
Not long ago, I was in one of my favourite cafés in my little downtown neighbourhood. While at the counter paying for my order, I held brief eye contact with a woman working in the kitchen. She had zero expression on her face. My natural instinct was to smile at her, so I did. She immediately smiled back and then thanked me for a great smile and bringing some lightness of energy to her in that moment. I was a bit taken aback, because people don’t usually say things like this. At least, not to me in that type of setting. It felt great and reaffirmed my belief in just how impacting the spreading of kindness is through even the smallest gesture wherever we go. It really can make a difference in somebody’s life.
While I recognize that there are certain times and some difficult situations that can make it impossible for anyone to outwardly appreciate any act of kindness; perhaps because of some despair or physical challenge they are experiencing, I feel certain that every kind gesture exchanged between us is retained in the brain and shifts our energy for the better, even if only slightly. Which then ripples out into the universe in some greater energy form. Even when we don’t respond. Which makes it a win-win for all.
I say this because I’ve been there. I was touched in some way by every kindness offered to me in the most difficult times in my grief. And even though I couldn’t outwardly express my appreciation to others the way I wanted to (and some of these kindnesses I didn’t appreciate for years), in some way I know that they softened me just a little.
Acts of kindness don’t have to be grand. They just need to be genuine. A smile and hug can be worth a treasure chest of gold to those who need it the most.
It would be a gift to us all that in our own moments of stress and frustration, we could choose to be kind to everyone around us, rather than blowing off the steam we really want to vent. It makes a huge difference to how we feel about ourselves and others and go about the rest of our day when we can do this. For those times when we aren’t feeling up to spreading kindness, that’s okay. There will always be another opportunity to practice “rewind…be kind” behaviour.
For more information on grief support and services please visit vonnesolis.com.