Some friends and I are hanging out in a small, public park, talking about music.
“Ooh, I’m diggin’ the new One Republic song, ‘Love Runs Out’,” I say.
Some hadn’t heard it yet, so I take out my phone and play it for them, amplifying it a bit on a portable speaker. I’m a third of the way through the song when I see a woman standing at the edge of the park looking at us. I wave to her.
“Turn off the radio, please,” she yells.
“It’ll be just a minute,” I reply.
“Turn it off,” she responds.
“I’m just playing one song then we’ll be done.”
“Well, I don’t want to hear the radio,” she snaps.
OK, I tried to be nice, but now she’s just pissing me off.
“Well, it’s a public place, so it’s happening,” I say.
In my mind and body, the following unfolds in all of five minutes: At first, I’m riled up and annoyed at her behavior. Then I feel “wrong” or “bad” for inconveniencing her. Then I’m frustrated at her for making me feel like I’m bad. Then I realize she can’t “make” me feel anything. Then I move to the sarcastic compassion place: “It must suck to be so miserable.” And then I’m able to feel more authentic compassion. “Ok, she lives right next to the park and is probably used to quiet, though she could’ve handled the conversation better.”
My natural curiosity about what makes people tick takes me on a ride. I wonder…. is this how she operates everywhere in her life? Does she start conflict and act confrontational when something displeases her? Does she not feel able to set boundaries with those closest to her so instead pounces on strangers?
In this life, you get what you give. Though I tried to be polite to this woman, she kept spewing her negativity, so out came the Boston/New England/Irish in me. While I’m certainly not proud of it, her energy invited that exchange.
While it’s not always easy, ya gotta take responsibility for your behavior, actions, and attitude. Playing the victim will get you nowhere. If you find you’re facing challenge after challenge, take a look at the energy you’re putting out.
If you expect things to be hard, chances are they will be, so why not expect them to be easy instead? When you’re frustrated, hurt, or disappointed, ask yourself, “What could be the silver lining here?” Sure, you may roll your eyes at first, but give it a go anyway. What if relief is merely a thought away?
So how do you show up in the world? Do you expect hardship? Has your armor become a uniform that you wear daily? Are you able to see opportunities in life’s curve balls? Can you live and let live? Do you believe you’ve been dealt a shitty hand in life?
Whatever the case may be, you have the power to change course, shift your perspective, and have a completely different experience in this life. Often it’s simply about creating a new habit. Challenge yourself to not default to the negative and instead, search for the positive.
Until next week, keep taking those small steps to Live Out Loud.