Do you ever find yourself really annoyed at everyone and everything around you? Like nothing seems to be going your way and life seems to delight at thwarting your very well-laid plans and dreams?
How do you respond in these situations? Do you keep pushing? Do you roll your eyes at the people around you who “don’t get it”? Do you step back?
I went to a retreat center on a gorgeous farm in the rolling mountains of Pennsylvania last year in an attempt to complete the final stages of my book and website. The content for the website was just not coming and finishing the last five percent of my book seemed impossible in the hum of the city where I live. I was completely frustrated and almost ready to throw in the towel. In a last-ditch attempt to pull it all together, I went into seclusion. Surely an idyllic setting in a “high-vibe” spiritual community would download inspiration and creativity to my brain.
But despite the “great energy”, the three beautiful vegetarian meals a day, the meditation and peaceful forests, things still weren’t coming together. I was frustrated and had a big pit in my stomach – why wasn’t this flowing? Even a little? I was pushing so hard but feeling like I was in mud. I wondered if I should just give up on this whole dream of launching my book and website.
Reaching out to a friend for some support, she voiced concern that my vision for the book design could be difficult to execute; suggesting I scale it back. It seemed like yet another obstacle in the road! I didn’t quite lose it, but I felt a wave of deep frustration and spoke sharply and not exactly lovingly.
Do You Ever Notice That You’re Most Upset With Other People When You’re Not At Peace With Yourself?
The next day, one of the community members excitedly told me that the spiritual leader of the ashram, who had been in seclusion for many months, had decided to give a talk that night. I was mildly curious, but mostly stressed-out and wondering if the smart choice would be to keep working to try to “get something done.”
Something told me to go to the talk. But my first impression was not particularly awe-inspiring. I was even more annoyed at myself for not slogging away at my computer instead. Sitting near the front where I couldn’t slip out unnoticed, and despite my efforts to pay attention, I proceeded to nod off.
I woke up just as he was energetically exhorting us to allow ourselves to relax and enjoy this short time we have on earth. He repeatedly asked, “What is so important to worry about, that we can’t see the beauty and magnificence in our life and act kindly and with love?
Wait … was he talking to me?
I jolted awake to his next words: “It doesn’t matter how much you achieve if there’s not kindness and love along the way. As you strive for your achievements, it doesn’t matter how many books you write or what you accomplish, if there is not kindness or love on your path there.”
Clearly, he was talking to me.
I wasn’t being kind and loving especially to myself. I was berating myself mercilessly to “get it right,” “get it done,” and “do better.” I kept asking myself, “Why can’t I just pull 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 being particularly kind to my amazing team members — there for the sole purpose of supporting the birth of my book and website out in the world. I wasn’t particularly kind to my husband when he called to simply ask how I was doing, interpreting the call as “one more interruption!”
So how do we shift into Love and Kindness when we’re frustrated and annoyed? Here are five ideas:
1. Ask Yourself: What Is The Most Loving Thing I Can Do For Myself Right Now?
Then, do it. It could be anything, including turning off your phone and sitting quietly for just a few moments. It might be getting up from your desk and walking outside, or calling a friend., or eating some nourishing food. Ask your heart what it wants, and then do it. We can’t give to others what we don’t have ourselves. 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 travel a different path. Get curious about the obstacles: what are they trying to teach? How might you be contributing to the obstacles? For me, my perfectionism was keeping me from feeling my work was “good enough” to be complete. Simply recognizing this can help to lift the barriers.
3. Spend Time Doing What Puts You In Flow
Flow is that state of being where time seems to stand still, when we’re most receptive to creative new ideas and thoughts. It could involve writing in your journal, or working with wood, gardening, painting or sewing, or anything. What do you love to do that puts you in flow?
Spiritual traditions throughout the ages tell us to turn away from our problems. Focusing on what we do love instead of the thorn in our side, if even for a smidge, fills us up with Love. Doing what we love generates Love.
4. Open Yourself To Divine Or Cosmic Love
Imagine yourself being literally immersed in a shower of love and light — however that looks to you. Imagine yourself being flooded, every cell and atom of your being immersed in a warm loving embrace of Love. Imagine you have all the Love you need — and more.
5. Find Ways To Serve This Kindness And Love Forward To Others
Does someone need a smile and a friendly word? Can you do an anonymous good deed that only you know about? Buy the person behind you in line a coffee? Can you see someone else’s beauty and reflect that back to them, and let them know you see their magnificence? How do you like to show kindness to others?
For me, I called my friend back, apologized for speaking sharply and told her that if my book and website were not created with Love and Friendship, it wouldn’t be a success, no matter how many copies sold. The exchange generated love and respect, bringing us even closer together. Now, we continually commit to infusing all we do with Love and Kindness.
Life gets pretty magical when we operate this way.
The book and website? I took the next few days off, explored the town, had dinner with a friend, and then returned to the city, making sure I was kind to everyone in my path, including me. In the following few weeks, the book and website seemed to complete themselves with a lot of help, laughter and fun with my team.
When we feel our life has shifted into a “stuck phase”, we have a choice to stay there and keep pushing, or to ease up and allow something new to expand. This refocus on kindness and love — for ourselves and others, is a powerful antidote to fear and worry.
Is there an area of your life that could use an infusion of Kindness and Love?
Diane Pienta 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 healing, herbalism, yoga and meditation, which led to a new career in nontraditional ways of finding joy, inner peace, and creativity. She’s the author of Be the Magic: Bite-Sized Nuggets of Wisdom to Feed your Joy, Nourish your Soul and Open your Heart.