I was part of a three-way conversation discussing how easily we can get triggered, and our moods immediately change from feeling peace and calm to intense irritation and anger. One gentleman was describing his recent experience on an airplane. He had just comfortably settled into his seat when a quite "rude and selfish" woman pushed her way past him, plopping down in the seat (not originally hers as she had changed from the row behind him) next to him. She proceeded to listen to loud music without headphones while jockeying for the full armrest in between. Needless to say, it was very triggering! He described how he handled the battle inside his head that was wreaking havoc with his emotions. Yet he was able to shift from a place of irritation and outrage to make room for a more workable mental and emotional space. This led to a delightful conversation between the two during the flight.
How did he do it? He made a decision to redirect his focus. He stopped fixating on how "put out" and appalled he was by this person's lack of self-awareness and instead redirected his focus elsewhere.
Three weeks ago, I, too, was traveling. I was returning from an event that ended at noon on Sunday, but my ticket home wasn't until Monday. I tried to change my flight back several times prior to the event, but it didn't work out for one reason or another. Now, here I was on the day I wanted to leave with no ticket in hand, no hotel booked to stay the night, and no rental car to get anywhere. Usually, in this type of situation, I might try to force things to change or at least put a plan in place, micromanaging all the details and feeling uptight in the process, not knowing how it would all work out. But I made a commitment to myself about a month ago; I wanted to tune into my intuition more and deepen my belief that everything works out for me perfectly. Living that way requires wading in the "Sea of the Unknown" (See Arrow Tip # 6) So here I am, leaving the venue, having no idea where I'm headed, preparing to call an uber to take me to the nearest subway station. That's as far as my logistical plan went.
I did, however, know two things. I knew who I wanted to be in this situation: a person who gets what they want effortlessly. And I knew how I wanted to feel: at total peace, enjoying the present moment, and able to go with the flow without worry or strain. These answers came in response to my habitual questions of "Who do I want to be in this situation, and how do I want to feel?" Once I answered these, I could shift my focus from worry and irritation about whatever might not be going right to instead noticing all the ways things were working out easily for me.
It's interesting how much control we really have over our experiences, even when we think we don't. We buy into beliefs and give meaning to events that are, in essence, objective. We entertain thoughts that can bring joy and peace or throw us into states of anger and pits of despair, depending on which we choose to focus on.
Interestingly, just as I was about to order an Uber, I heard another person standing three feet away say he was about to get an Uber to the subway station. (We were at a venue up in the hills of Northern California.) We agreed to share the ride and split the fare. That was easy. As I was sitting on the train trying to plot my next move, I decided to disembark at the airport since it was on my route anyway, just to see if, for some reason, the ticket agent could find me a seat on a flight that day. I strolled up to the counter, as no one was in line, and politely told the agent I had been unable to get on a plane today but would love to fly out if at all possible. I had already "decided" if this didn't work out, I would just enjoy another day and leave as originally planned. It was easy to be ok with that because I had already decided who I was in this situation and how I wanted to feel; whatever happened was irrelevant to my ability to access my intended feelings. The choice was mine on how I wanted to experience the next 24 hours; be annoyed or be at peace.
Strangely enough, after about 10 minutes of waiting, she booked me on the next flight, which was leaving in an hour. I casually strolled to the gate, quickly downloaded a movie to my iPad, grabbed a Starbucks, and boarded the plane. What a peaceful and harmonious experience!
What would have happened if she didn't book me on the next flight out? Who knows? It's an unknown, right? But I do know how I would have experienced whatever came my way. I would have felt at peace, knowing that things would work out effortlessly as long as I decided to keep my focus there.
I know this is easier said than done sometimes. But, we really do have more power than we think. Try deciding who you want to be and how you want to feel in the little things so when more challenging circumstances come your way, you're more skillful at shifting your focus.
The truth is we all just want to feel good, happy, or better. That's the outcome we're looking for. Pay attention to that. In some scenarios, we might think we want to feel validated, justified, or like we're "right." Even then, we only want to feel that way because we want to feel BETTER. But, since we can't control other people, sometimes we can't get that validation, and we end up fighting or in a power struggle that leaves us feeling even worse. Don't get tripped up there. In the end, we all just want to experience TRUE INNER peace. That comes from yourself, not other people.
In any given situation and in your overall life, ask yourself, "Who do I want to be right now, and how do I want to feel?"
Make the decision to adhere to those answers.
Shift your thoughts and beliefs to align with that outcome.
Notice all the ways your external world is mirroring that back to you.
When things come your way that seem to trigger you or contradict your decision, make a conscious choice to reframe your perspective to align with a better experience.
Practice this process, as it requires new perspectives and habits to take shape and solidify.
*Remember: YOU ARE UNSTOPPABLE!