Do you ever find yourself really irritated by everything and everyone around you? Like nothing seems to be going your way and life seems to take pleasure in thwarting your very well thought out plans and dreams?
How do you react in these situations? Will you keep insisting? Do you roll your eyes at those around you who “don’t get it”? Are you taking a step back?
I went to a retreat center on a beautiful farm in the rolling mountains of Pennsylvania last year in an effort to complete the final stages of my book and website. The content for the website just wasn’t coming and finishing the last five percent of my book seemed impossible in the buzz of the city where I live. I was completely frustrated and almost ready to throw in the towel. In a last-ditch effort to get everything together, I went into seclusion. An idyllic setting in a “high-vibe” spiritual community would certainly download inspiration and creativity to my brain.
But despite the great energy, the three beautiful vegetarian meals a day, the meditation and the peaceful forests, it still didn’t come together. I was frustrated and had a big pit in my stomach – why didn’t this flow? Even a little? I pushed so hard but felt like I was in the mud. I wondered if I should just give up on this whole dream of launching my book and website.
She reached out to a friend for some support and expressed concern that my vision for the book design might be difficult to execute; suggest I scale it back. It seemed like yet another obstacle on the road! I didn’t completely lose it, but I felt a wave of deep frustration and spoke sharply and not exactly lovingly.
Do you ever find yourself most angry with other people when you’re not at peace with yourself?
The next day, one of the community members excitedly told me that the ashram’s spiritual leader, who had been in seclusion for months, had decided to give a talk that evening. I was somewhat curious, but mostly stressed, wondering if it would be wise to keep working to try and “get something done.”
Something told me to go to the interview. But my first impression wasn’t particularly awe-inspiring. I was even more annoyed with myself for not slogging away at my computer instead. Sitting in the front where I couldn’t slip out unnoticed, and despite my best efforts to pay attention, I dozed off.
I woke up just as he was energetically urging us to allow ourselves to relax and enjoy this short time we have on Earth. He repeatedly asked: “What is it so important to worry about not being able to see the beauty and greatness in our life and act kindly and lovingly?
Wait… was he talking to me?
I woke up with a start at his next words: “It doesn’t matter how much you achieve if there is no kindness and love along the way. As you strive for your achievements, it doesn’t matter how many books you write or what you achieve if there is no kindness or love in your path.”
He was clearly talking to me.
I was not kind and loving, especially to myself. I mercilessly berated myself to “do well,” “get it done,” and “do better.” I kept asking myself, “Why can’t I just put this together?” I certainly didn’t take the time to just sit in the moss forest, which is what my soul really wanted to do. I wasn’t particularly nice to my wonderful team members – there for the sole purpose of supporting the birth of my book and website in the world. I wasn’t particularly nice to my husband when he called just to ask how I was, interpreting the call as “another interruption!”
So how do we switch to Love and Kindness when we are frustrated and annoyed? Here are five ideas:
1. Ask yourself: What is the most loving thing I can do for myself right now?
So do it. It could be anything, including turning off your phone and sitting still for a while. It could be getting up from your desk and walking outside, or calling a friend, or eating some nutritious food. Ask your heart what it wants, and then do it. We cannot give to others what we ourselves do not have. For me it was taking off the next morning and sitting next to the stream in the moss forest.
2. Stop pushing
Recognize that obstacles in the road are often nudges to take a different path. Be curious about the obstacles: what are they trying to learn? How could you contribute to the obstacles? For me, my perfectionism kept me from feeling like my work was “good enough” to finish. Simply acknowledging this can help lift the barriers.
3. Spend time on things that put you in flow
Flow is that state of being where time seems to stand still, when we are most receptive to creative new ideas and thoughts. It could be writing in your journal, or working with wood, gardening, painting or sewing, or whatever. What do you like to do that puts you in flow?
Spiritual traditions down through the ages tell us to turn away from our problems. Focus on what we Doing love instead of the eyesore, if only for a blemish, fills us with love. Doing what we love generates love.
4. Open yourself to divine or cosmic love
Imagine being literally submerged in a shower of love and light – whatever that looks like. Imagine being engulfed, every cell and atom of your being immersed in a warm loving embrace of Love. Imagine having all the love you need – and more.
5. Find ways to serve this kindness and love to others
Does anyone need a smile and a kind word? Can you do an anonymous good deed that only you know about? Buying the person behind you in line coffee? Can you see someone else’s beauty and reflect it back to them, letting them know that you see their greatness? How do you enjoy showing kindness to others?
For me, I called my girlfriend back, apologized for her harsh words, and told her that if my book and website weren’t made with love and friendship, it wouldn’t be a success no matter how many copies were sold. The exchange generated love and respect, which brought us even closer together. Now we continually commit to infusing everything we do with love and kindness.
Life becomes quite magical when we work this way.
The book and the website? I took the next few days off, explored the city, had dinner with a friend, and then returned to the city, making sure I was kind to everyone in my path, including me. Over the next few weeks, the book and website seemed to complete themselves with lots of help, laughter, and fun with my team.
When we feel like our life has shifted into a “stuck phase”, we have a choice to stay there and keep pushing, or to slow down and allow something new to expand. This refocusing on kindness and love—for ourselves and others—is a powerful antidote to fear and worry.
Is there an area in your life that could use an infusion of kindness and love?
Diane Pieta is a creativity mentor, healer, forest therapy guide, and author. A former businesswoman, she was sparked by a cancer diagnosis to transform her own life and explore alternative medicine, herbal medicine, yoga, and meditation, leading to a new career in non-traditional ways to promote joy, inner peace, and creativity. find. She is the author of Be the magic: bite-sized nuggets of wisdom to feed your joy, feed your soul, and open your heart.