“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” ~ Henry Longfellow ~
The holiday season is among us and I’ve really started to feel the amped up anxiety in the air. Everyone (myself included) is running around just trying to get everything done. The only excited energy is coming from the kids. For the rest of us adults, we’re just stressed.
With this added stress, I’ve noticed the road rage increasing. Just yesterday, I was driving exactly the speed limit through town as there are cops and speed cameras everywhere with their radar out and a zero tolerance. I had this guy behind me driving right up my bum. He was so close I was afraid he’d hit me. He suddenly jerked his steering wheel to the right and crossed the center line to pass me, barely escaping a head-on collision.
As he was passing, I could see he was screaming at me and giving me the Finger. The intense rage was all over his face. For the first time ever, my initial response was not one of indignant anger. It was actually a feeling of sadness. I was overcome with compassion for this man who was obviously deeply unhappy. His suffering must be so great, he could do nothing other than vent it out to everyone around him. The passenger in his car was a woman who was also clearly unhappy and fearful. He went on to tailgate and dangerously pass several cars in front of me. I sent him as much loving energy as I could and hoped they got home safely.
I was suddenly profoundly aware of my knee-jerk compassion response and felt quite uplifted. It was honestly a first for me. In the past, I’ve been able to get to the compassion… eventually, but it was never my first reaction. When faced with an angry bully, I usually go unconscious and mirror that hostility back. Having this opportunity to see my own growth and an opening heart, was such a wonderful gift of awareness.
I encourage you to look for opportunities to give the gift compassion to others this holiday season.