If you’re mildly interested in weather news, you’ll know that Boston has endured the ire of Old Man Winter these past two months, especially February. Don’t know what the city did to deserve such an onslaught of snowstorms one after the other. Er, wait a minute, I take that back. This is Boston.
The last snowstorm convinced me that I should indeed leave Massachusetts and seek warmer shores because my blood cannot do the cold, snow, and way below freezing wind chills any more. Neither can my sanity. The only time I enjoy living here is during the late spring and summer. Boston is pretty then. No, really, it is. Take a look.
But now it’s winter.
With all this snow comes an activity we Bostonians love: shoveling. Not. When faced with my car buried under mounds of snow, I stand and look at it for a moment to figure out what kind of work I’m expected to do. I wake up a little later to deal with the shoveling because I’m a teacher and get snow days. I use these wonderful days off to write my ass off because I have very little time to do so on a regular schedule.
When I stepped outside to shovel my car out for the millionth time, I noticed a huge huge pile of snow behind my car. It was snow created from my neighbor’s snow blower. My temper began bubbling up in my chest at this blatant, inconsiderate move from this woman. Not only did I have to shovel nature’s wintery treasure, but I also had to move a new mountain of snow courtesy of my neighbor. I wanted to swing my shovel against her car. A quick whack to front. Bam!
I took a deep breath and swallowed by anger.
I told myself two things: 1.) Blowing up at my neighbor would waste a lot of energy that I needed to conserve for snow shoveling. 2.) The world had enough darkness in the world without me adding more to it with my unnecessary rage.
Yeah, my neighbor pulled a jerk move by giving me more work to do, but I decided to let it go.
I went back inside my house to get my cell phone, put my headphones in, and listened to some rocking tunes as I shoveled out my car. And guess what? My neighbor stepped up and joined me. She helped me shovel away the large mound she created with her snow blower. She then helped me remove my car from the driveway.
We exchanged no words about what she had done earlier but it taught me something: one of the best ways to say you’re sorry is through action. And my neighbor apologized by helping me. Also, silence is more powerful than you realize when faced with anger inducing situations like rude or inconsiderate people. Sometimes people expect you to be angry or they want to get some sort of heated reaction out of you. Don’t give them that satisfaction. Hold on to your peace and pile coals on their heads by showing compassion; you’ll be surprised how differently people react to kindness or silence instead of horn blaring anger.
How about you? How do you deal successfully with rude or inconsiderate people? Would love to hear your thoughts!
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When I get behind the wheel, I’m pretty much convinced that I’m the best driver out there (ten years driving and no accidents yet, knock on wood), and everyone else got his or her license out of a cereal box as my good friend would always say. I live in Boston, and the drivers here drive. Me. CRAZY. But not as crazy as before when I suffered from a serious case of road rage. Every drive would be a nightmare because someone would cut me off, drive too slowly, or simply forget basic road rules.
And the rotaries.
OMG, don’t get me started on the rotaries. If you have the fortunate luck of never coming across these circles of perpetual annoyance in your home state, then thank your lucky stars; there are no faults written there. Some Boston drivers do not know what to do around a rotary. Others think it’s the best time to start driving around from another direction at the same moment when I’m driving—the moment when it’s clearly my right of way. I keep driving and dare the idiot to come crashing my way.
Expletives used to fly out my mouth as if they were eggs hitting the other driver’s windshields. Shaking fists, exasperated sighs, gritting teeth, severe eye rolls, and the long WTF-were-you-thinking stare at the driver upon the red light.
BUT, not anymore.
My road rage was out of control and adding unnecessary stress to my brain and my life. Yeah, people out there were bad drivers, but that didn’t mean I had to lose my cool over it. Why should I let idiot drivers ruin my day and turn me into this angry bird? Why should I sacrifice my peace for something so insignificant, especially when there are no accidents involved? Why should I work myself up into a whirlwind of negative emotions for dumb drivers?
The answer: I shouldn’t have to.
Anger is a powerful emotion that should be reserved only for moments where it can be harnessed intelligently to create meaningful change like in unjust circumstances where people are being physically or emotionally hurt or displaced by others. Anger has no place in our every day lives. Allowing anger to fester in the presence of simple annoyances shows a lack of control and reveals deeper problems from within—problems that should be dealt with so one can find peace, the optimal state of mind.
My poor anger management stemmed from past disappointments and rejections that I hadn’t been able to release. I held on to these failures so tightly because I didn’t know what else I could do. It was as if letting go would nullify all the hard work I put in to achieving the results that I so desperately wanted. When those results failed to come true, I felt stuck, hurt, and angry all the time. My anger seeped out when I drove, interacted with family, or did every day tasks. I had no peace.
It wasn’t until that I confronted my anger head on, unpacking its deeper meaning and sources, that I was able to become aware of how I was hurting the people around me and myself. I finally let go of my failures, rejections, and disappointments, and consciously decided to learn from them and move the hell on.
And with that came peace. So, now when I drive I’m a lot less annoyed and angry. I experience peace and take joy being behind the wheel. But I’ll be honest. Sometimes that one driver will drag an eye roll out of me because Boston. But it’s not that serious. 😉
How about you? Do you have road rage? How do you deal with it? Would love to hear your thoughts!
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It’s 8:05am. According to my trusty Google Maps app, the 66 Bus to Harvard Square should arrive around 8:13. I eye the Dunkin Donuts to the left of the bus stop and decide that I have enough time to grab a much needed cup of coffee if I am to face my students and not poke my eye out with a dry erase marker. I get my cup of coffee and return to the bus stop. I leave my coffee unopened because I remembered what happened last time I vied for a sip. While on the bus, the coffee spilled all over me in glorious fashion thanks to the most abrupt stops in the world. So I keep the top closed over the scalding black liquid.
It’s 18 degrees. Windy. A smatter of snowflakes falls to the ground. I bury my face in my black infinity scarf. My breath fogs up my glasses and I can’t see. I wipe the lenses my finger and quickly retreat in into the warmth of my gloves. Boston winters don’t play.
Despite the cold, I’m somewhat self-satisfied because I made it the bus stop early this morning, which means I’ll have thirty glorious minutes to do some prep and relax before my classes start at 9am. I smile, a miracle considering it’s morning, and I hate mornings with the fiery passion of a million burning suns. I check the time:
8:15am. Um, okay so the bus is a little late.
8:25am. What the hell is going on? Seriously, why can’t MBTA get its sh** together! Do they know that people need to get to work? Why the hell would they increase the damn fare if they can’t even get buses on the street? I crane my neck and look out for the bus every three seconds.
8:27am. The bus arrives and it’s full to the max, people sandwiched together, touching each other so close that faces are rubbing against faces. I think how there’s no way I’ll be able to get in. Bam! The driver doesn’t allow me in. Just as I thought. I want to hurl my bag into the brick building behind me.
8:31am. A second bus arrives and it’s just as full. Eff this! I make my way to the back entrance and enter, making space where none exists. I look at the seats longingly but know it’ll be impossible to get a seat. I stand for the whole bus ride, thinking endlessly about how I’ll be late for work. Traffic is bad.
I’m late for work.
My head curses enough to shame a sailor and sends out rays upon rays of negative energy into the air. I hate Boston. I hate the MBTA. I hate the traffic. I HATE EVERYTHING.
All of this negative thinking ends up creating a terrible day.
Rewind to 8:15am. The bus is late. It’s okay. I won’t be late for work today, however.
The bus arrives at 8:23am. It’s full but I can get it in, and I won’t even have to stand long because I’ll get a seat soon. I get into the bus and one stop later, a lady steps off and I claim her seat. I sit comfortably in the crowded bus. My mind is at peace and I focus on the music pouring into my ears from my headphones. I’m not worried. I’ll get to work on time. Not as early as I wanted to, but I won’t be late.
8:50am. I get to work with ten minutes to spare. I have a great day.
Both these accounts are true stories. In the first scenario, my mind was full of negative thinking and anger, and it ruined my whole day. When I decided to shift my thinking away from negativity and anger, my world changed, as if responding to my mind.
Don’t underestimate the power of the mind to influence your world. I realized that we all make a choice to accept negativity and reinforce it or reject it by stating affirmative statements and thus, driving negativity away.
Try shifting your thinking at any point in a bad day and let me know what happens.
What are some things you do to get over commuter rage?
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It’s a new year and I want to experiment with a new series for my blog. I call it Get Over the Small Stuff. In 2014, I experienced big rejections and disappointments that manifested into a raging cloud of bitter anger. I exploded and shot lightning over the smallest or most insignificant things. Anger is a powerful emotion and should be used sparingly. I believe it has its place such as fighting for your rights or against injustices. However, anger is unnecessary for situations where all you need to do is breathe, be aware of your negative thinking, and walk away with peace in your heart. Otherwise, it will lead to suffering and take away from your happiness.
This is what I strive to achieve for 2015: inner peace, true peace in which my external environment does not affect or disturb my mind in a negative way.
But to do this, I need to be aware of the things that set me off, truly understand why they set me off, and debunk the negative myths surrounding the things that set me off. So let’s start with what used to be one of my greatest anger inducing, insignificant things: late text replies.
Have you ever texted someone only to wait a day or later for a reply? This drove me crazy in 2014 to the point where I wanted to erase the people who did this from my life. Forever. Super late text replies stirred up so many negative feelings and thoughts in my head. I felt angry, rejected, disliked, and disrespected. I thought that the person either didn’t care about me or didn’t think I was important enough in his or her life to reply to in a timely fashion. Sometimes I conjured up ideas that the person was deliberately trying to hurt me, especially after I texted a question, waiting impatiently for a reply. In fact, I would feel this way after six or more hours of not getting a response. Other times I took my own sweet time replying to a text from said person as a form of revenge. Once I lashed out at someone in a hateful, hurtful message for not replying after a few days. Turned out he hadn’t his phone with him the whole time. Felt like a total heel afterwards.
All of this negativity from something so insignificant created worse feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem, which created unnecessary suffering. I made it all about me, creating myths about how people were trying to hurt me or how they hated me. I felt like I didn’t matter. But that wasn’t the truth. All of these negative thoughts were lies, lies, lies.
The truth is sometimes people aren’t in a position to reply as quickly as I want to and that’s okay. Even if they can reply quickly, but just don’t feel like doing so, that’s okay too! Hell, sometimes people forget they’ve received a message! I don’t need outside affirmation in the form of a quick text reply to cement my worth or make me feel better about myself. I matter without any of that. I matter because I say so, not because of anything happening on the outside. I am loved and most importantly, I love myself. My cup is already full because I make it so through my own efforts and thoughts. I don’t need anyone or anything from the outside to make it full; the good stuff from the outside just makes it overflow. I also don’t need to resort to revenge to make the other person feel crappy. I should always strive to treat others how I want to be treated, which is why I respond to messages as quickly as I’m able to.
So now when I send a text and someone takes his or her sweet time to reply, I don’t sweat it. I’m over it. Anyway, the people who really matter always reply in a timely manner or apologize for giving a late response, and those are the people to keep close.
How about you? How do you get over the small stuff? Would love to hear your responses.
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I have an anger problem. If I’m in a hurry to write something down and grab a pen empty of ink, the pen becomes a knife, and the paper, forever scarred with furious invisible scribbles, my victim. I curse, hurl the useless pen out of my sight, and reach for another. Heaven forbid the second pen fails me. Then it’s the apocalypse.
But that’s such a small matter, you say. Doesn’t mean you have an anger problem. Oh, how I wish it were so. Make me wait a second longer in a checkout line, and unintelligible mutters of impatience pour out from my mouth. Drive too slowly in front of my car, and I make it my mission to switch lanes, speed up, and take the space in front of you. When I succeed, I cackle evilly in triumph at your bewilderment. Make a mistake when I have give you instructions, and my nose flares up, eyes get super wide, and my voice becomes loud enough to disturb the deaf as I complain about how you messed up.
It’s about the small things in life, all of it accumulating to transform into a stampeding wooly mammoth set on fire. I snap at my laptop, fellow drivers and pedestrians if I’m driving, my brother, mother, father, friends—everyone and everything. No one and nothing is safe from my wrath, my pain. My hell. Not even myself. And I receive a good dose of anger from my inner thoughts. I want to escape, but I can’t so I get angrier and angrier. It’s terrible.
I was in the car with my brother today and I chewed him out for making a wrong turn and skipping a gas station I specifically told him to stop at. He turned to me and said, “Carla, I don’t know what your problem is. For the past six months, you’ve been…I don’t know the word for it. Super aggressive.” That shut me up right away, and I sat in the passenger seat, ashamed and pensive.
I knew why I was angry. It had nothing to do with him or anything or anyone else for that matter. I was angry about being rejected from several PhD programs I had wanted to enter. Still angry. I thought I was over the rejections, but I wasn’t. I was supposed to be in California, living on my own and studying and researching what I loved. But I wasn’t. I was still in Boston. Living at home. And underemployed. And I was angry. Mostly at myself, but I let my anger and disappointment spill on everything and everyone. I didn’t want to be this way. I wanted to live in peace. To feel peace. I hated how I sapped joy out of my daily life and made the people around me miserable when it was no fault of theirs. I needed to change. So, I came up with five things to help me leave my hell behind and choose peace.
Stay tuned for my next post, 5 Things I Did that Helped Me Choose Peace.
While you wait, talk to me. Do you have an anger problem? Do you find yourself snapping for little to no reason? I want to hear about it!