What’s been your reaction to the latest disasters in the news? Sadness? Disgust? Blame? Apathy? Did you use it as an opportunity to vent? To try to show your leadership by jumping on the online bandwagon? Raise your voice, or alternatively take a motherly tone to pacify your peeps? (Even though they didn’t ask for it?)
Here’s a sincere suggestion: Instead of becoming unglued or searching for answers “out there,” take a look within. Because the greatest thinkers throughout history — and apparently even quantum physics — tell us that the outside reflects the inside.
What does it say about your own inner state? It’s easy to point fingers and wring our hands, but that takes the attention off of something even more important — the question of “What’s going on inside of me?”
Because although charity begins at home, so does insanity. So it’s a good idea to check in every day — or better yet every minute — to see who’s driving the bus. Is it a sane adult, a scared child, or a mad woman (or man)?
I once heard a wise teacher tell someone, “You’re not angry because of what happened. You’re angry because you’re an angry person.”
Ooooh, that pressed my buttons. I didn’t want to look at it, but since I’d overheard it, I knew the message was for me, also. At first I couldn’t wrap my head around it, but over the years I’ve come to realize that it’s true.
People and events aren’t usually what anger us. It’s our own internal junk, which just gets triggered by others, and we’re happy to shift the blame.
How do I know this? Because I used to be an angry person. Abused people usually are, and that energy has to go somewhere. Here’s one of the ways I dealt with it. When I finally got a massive divorce and lawsuit off my back after surviving an abusive marriage, I holed myself up and wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I thought I was writing a book for publication, but unbeknownst to me, I was actually healing myself. I was getting all the anger, hurt and poison out of my being and onto the page so I didn’t get ill or go out and shoot someone.
If you find yourself looking at the news and wondering how anyone could go out and slaughter a bunch of people, take a look inside and be honest about the moments of murderous rage you yourself have ever felt — and the vengeful ideas you may still be harboring in some dark, unforgiving corner of your mind. We’re all capable of ugly things and have certainly thought them even if we haven’t acted on them. It’s pretty sobering that “There but for the grace of God go I.”
So my message today is, “Take out the trash.”
I love this simple phrase. It comes from a novel called “Peaceful Warrior.”
Ninety-nine percent of what we think is garbage, and if we want to accomplish anything of value and create what we desire and deserve — if we want to live in a peaceful world, then we need to “take the trash out” on a daily basis.
Writing is one great way to take out the trash. You don’t have to make a big deal about it and give it a special name and do it at the same time in the same place every day, (although you can do that if you want to.) Just make it a practice to sit down and write for a few minutes about what’s on your mind. You may be surprised where it takes you.
I have a stack of journals that can be a bit disturbing when I go back and look at them, which I usually don’t, because they sound like the ravings of a mad woman. The upside is that I don’t feel like that anymore because I got it out on the page.
Try it. Believe me, it’s fertile territory. Because when you take out the trash, you may uncover the treasure. It’s also useful if you’ve been struggling to write for any kind of audience, because it greases the wheels and may release what’s blocking you.
And in the process, you may find your real voice and your real message.
You might even save your own life while you’re at it.
Lots of people want to save the world. If you think that’s important, save yourself first.