There is quite a bit of meanness out there these days. I’ve noticed it in the news, on social media, on the road while traveling, and throughout the world. There’s niceness too, of course. But I’m convinced that over the last few years we have depleted our collective reserves of trust, respect, and positive regard toward our fellow humans; it’s left us with raw nerves and reduced compassion.
When we encounter a grumpity-grump or a meanie-beanie, our first instinct can be to jump into defensive mode–I’ve too often found myself barking right back at someone before I fully realize what is actually going on. This often happens when we’re “emotionally hijacked,” a term that describes what happens inside our bodies and minds when we activate our instinctual fight-or-flight reflex. This process has noble intentions to preserve and protect, but too often leads us to say and/or do things that we later end up regretting or rationalizing.
With all that is going on in our world, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to be frustrated. While it is important to our individual and collective well-being that we express our emotions, it is equally important that we make time to pause so we can avoid reacting rashly and instead respond mindfully. That pause is not always easy, but it’s almost always worth it since it helps to ensure we’re bringing our best self to the situation. You know, the self that knows the importance of being tender and also remembers the value of “Gentle. Kind. Friendly.”