The World in Your Head

SubwayTrain“For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstances but by our disposition.”
Martha Washington

On the subway this week, a guy in front of me looked troubled, tense and ready to hit someone.  Caught-up in his own thoughts, he was oblivious to other patrons on the subway.  His jaws were clenched as his mind replayed the moment in time that had caused his suffering.

At the same time, a father across the aisle let his anger show as his two young children who were playng nearby asked him questions.  I wondered if he was tired, embarassed by their childishness, or just an angry guy.

Tension began to creep into into my shoulders but then I caught myself.  It’s not my life!  It’s not my stuff!  Their problems, or perceived problems, aren’t mine.  Regardless, I, and others like me, have a tendency to pick-up other people’s energy and wear it for the rest of the day.  I sent them both silent prayers as I walked-off the train.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”  Gandhi

I started writing this post because the two angry guys on the subway had reminded me of how abuse starts.  A young woman falls in love and can’t see the forest for the trees.  Her lover becomes her husband and she suddenly disappears into his world.  In angry silence or an outburst of rage, the husband demonstrates his disapproval of one thing she does, and then another.  The pattern continues until she feels that she can do nothing right.  He succeeds in making his miserable world inseparable from hers until it becomes her miserable world too.  It’s amazing how often we give our power away.

It’s not just men.

It took me years to realize one of my friends was being abusive.  It was a habit with her and I was in the habit of taking the abuse.  At first, I thought she was being passionate, driven and determined to set the world right.  However, when I awoke from my decades-long trance, I realized that it was usually me who she was trying to set right because she thought there was something wrong with me.  For a while, I distanced myself but eventually got together with her for lunch to sort things out.  I explained that the last straw had come when she verbally slapped me in the face as I was trying to do something nice.  Instead of listening or trying to understand me, she became defensive and went on to point out how another friend was the better friend because she was always around.  Somehow, my attempt to mend our relationship got twisted into yet another reason why I should feel BAD.

“Hi, this is Wayne Dyer and I want to feel good. If your message is designed to do anything other than that, you’ve reached the wrong number.”
Wayne Dyer’s Voicemail Message

There are no easy answers.  However, life’s too short for constant stress, misery and anger.  I’m not perfect, but I do feel responsible for my neighbours and make a conscious effort to avoid spreading unhappiness either by remaining neutral, or heaven forbid, by being happy!  When I see stressed, angry and miserable people, I transmit love and compassion, and thank God for all my blessings because at least my tiny piece of the world is a relatively happy one!