It's graduation time! So many bright and shiny faces pumped to live out dreams, build successful lives and contribute to the society. Someone asked me, "what advice would you give to new graduates?"
Where should I start, there are so many life hacks already out there:
Timeout. How did reading the above headlines make you feel?
Were you intrigued? Motivated? Inspired?
If you’re like most people, you felt anxious. Fueled by a sense of missing out. Maybe you felt it confirmed your suspicion that you're lacking something. You might have even felt anger, for being left in the dark for so long. The intriguing thing is that these headlines hook into our fears and sense of lack on a subconscious level... and many of us would click on that bait.
The notion that someone else can answer our life's deepest questions is appealing. Especially when we are recent graduates, we want to feel like we’re set up for success. For the overachievers amongst us, not only do we want to feel prepared, but often we want a leg-up in the game of life. Why be good, when you can be phenomenal? Why be successful when you can set a new record? Why be like everyone else, when you can be the unique magnificent individual that you are (cue rainbows, butterflies and unicorns)?!
Graduate, you will hear a lot of messages in the next decade that will create anxiety, allow you to believe you are not enough, distract you from what you already know to be true. Many of these messages are tied to other people’s agendas that have nothing to do with you. Often times those messages do not serve you. This is what I call noise. There is so much around us and many of us will let noise into our lives for different reasons, and likely, you will too. That’s ok, it’s a part of life and we all learn and grow from our experiences.
So, new graduate, while I have no specific advice for you because I believe everyone is on their own unique journey, I can share with you what I would have benefited knowing (about two decades) sooner for myself. You can decide how my experience applies to you.
You will have a lot of information coming at you from all directions. The sooner you realize you already have everything you need to be successful, the better off you will be. You don’t need a “hack” or a short cut. In fact, most of the time, they don’t exist or work.
What I'm about to share is the opposite of a shortcut. In fact, it can take quite a bit of time to experience and requires a lot of self-reflection. It's one thing to know them in your head and altogether something else to experience it. I call these 10 magical life experiences I learned to be true:
The sooner you realize the secret to living a "successful" life, is to find your own unique path to fulfill your unique purpose through everything you already know and have, the sooner you will be the phenomenal, magnificent guy / gal living a life you love (and who knows, it may even include setting that new record)!
"Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath." ~ Eckhart Tolle
I'm going about my normal day. Doing my typical thing at work when I receive an email…THE email that is a bomb wrapped between “Hi” and “Thanks.”
In a matter of seconds, my emotions ramp up from 0 to 120. I feel my breath shorten. My ribs tighten up. My teeth clench. My lips purse. I’m angry and my eyeballs can barely focus anymore! I recognize what’s happening. I recognize it’s irrational, but it’s too late. There’s no reversing it. On an honest day, I’d admit I’m mad, angry, pissed. On other days, I might rationalize this as having an “off” day, or “typical work” or “shit happens” kind of moment.
You know exactly what I’m talking about. Once in a while we get in a conversation or exchange that just gets under our skin (yes, this includes how others are driving on the road).
Sometimes we even recognize how disproportionate the emotional response is to the stimulus – other times, we are completely oblivious.
So, what is actually happening in that moment when someone rubs us the wrong way?
When we get angry, mad, annoyed pissed off, here’s what’s really happening:
Your value is being threatened
We all have core values that we hold close. These values can change over the course of our lives, but every given moment, you have a list of values you cherish and protect consciously or subconsciously.
If you don’t know what your values are, take a moment to reflect on what’s important to you. Anything you need or desire becomes your value: time, health, privacy, community, friendship, family, faith, aesthetics, connection with nature, space, respect, wealth, power, creativity, creation, fun, etc.
So, next time when someone changes the plan last minute and annoys you to no end, it might be interesting to dig deeper to see what’s truly annoying you (hint: it’s rarely the actual observable behavior). You might want to ask yourself, “which value of mine is being threatened in this moment?” For example, you might discover the act of rescheduling means a challenge to your value for time, or respect or fun. Once you recognize the value you are protecting, you will have some compassion for the way you are feeling. By identifying what’s at the core of what’s really bothering you, you will naturally be more effective at resolving the situation.
Something is triggering you
Triggers can be mysterious and elusive because they are so deeply rooted in past trauma that any whiff of the past, will signal our fight or flight response. This can create some melodrama in our lives and those around us (I call this the OMG moment when someone melts down or lashes out unexpectedly. This is what makes some reality TV so fascinating to their viewers). Often times bickering and fighting are really two people responding to triggers back and forth. Understanding our triggers can bring awareness to our feelings, thoughts and actions.
Someone has hurt your heart
That’s right, boys and girls - that’s what it comes down to when we are angry. At the root of anger is hurt. Most of us do not like to associate with being a victim, so what we do is turn that pain (passive) into anger (active). This is completely natural and can at times serve a purpose to propel us into action. However, we will never “get over it,” and the pattern will continue unless we dig deeper and follow that anger until we recognize, address and heal the hurt underneath.
Any other reasons why you get angry? Share your thoughts below.