Happy New Year, friends!
This New Year, I resolve to create a more compassionate world. Both within myself and outside myself, I see a desperate need for deeper understanding and healing. Look out next week for the announcement of my first virtual workshop; it aims to help perfectionism grow compassion within themselves. This Illuminate will challenge all of us to take a concrete step in building a more compassionate world.
This story is from one of my beloved teachers, Tara Brach:
‘Imagine you are walking in the woods and you see a small dog sitting by a tree. As you approach it, it suddenly lunges at you, teeth bared. You are frightened and angry. But then you notice that one of its legs is caught in a trap. Immediately your mood shifts from anger to concern: You see that the dog’s aggression is coming from a place of vulnerability and pain. This applies to all of us. When we behave in hurtful ways, it is because we are caught in some kind of trap.’
Emotional intelligence is peeking beneath the surface of an emotion (even anger!) to understand the vulnerability and pain from which the emotion explodes. In a sense, we all, at times, have been that lunging, teeth-baring dog—reacting from pain and hurt in ways that cause more pain and more hurt.
But with emotional intelligence, we can learn to see that pain and hurt in ourselves before reacting by lashing out. We can learn to pause. We can learn to zoom out from our own sharp teeth and lunging legs. We can learn to zoom out far enough to see the trap. Then we can learn to dismantle the trap. Then we can learn to recognize and help dismantle the traps of others. Slowly, we will begin to soulfully heal the wounds of this entrapped world.
We will build a more compassionate world.
Let’s take a step in building that world today.
Anger and aggression is born from vulnerability and pain. It’s a trap, and sometimes we get stuck.