At dinner the other night, my 21-year-old stepson was accidently doused with salsa by an unknowing fumble at the table next to us. A flash of protective indignation came over me as I thought about how wrong it was that he should have the salsa spill on him!
Ever done that?!
But Ben just calmly turned to his sister and asked her to wipe him off. When I commented that I was impressed at how well he was handling it, he responded,
"Yeah, well I could get mad, but that would just make me feel bad."
The obvious lesson is around learning to pause before we react, but for me, there was a deeper learning.
Ben's reaction "drove home" a conversation that Jim and I have been having around how, as highly sensitive people, we have a self-destructive habit of making each others' problems (and others' problems in general!) our own. Sometimes, as in this situation, when no problem even exists! This might be obvious to some, but for those of us who were raised in an era when young empaths were labeled over-sensitive or weak, we have a lifetime of mis-steps from which to learn and redirect our empathetic energy!
So as Ben was masterfully demonstrating the value of learning to pause before reacting, we were learning how even an emotion like empathy, given without pause, can create negative energy that offers no other power than to "just make us feel bad!"
Our new mantra? "It's only a problem if you make it a problem."
What energy will you bring to New Year? What will it give back?
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Jamie Walton is a Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher with more than 8 years (1000+ hours) of experience teaching group exercise classes, and has been certified by the American Red Cross to administer First Aid and CPR.