What might the world look like if we each just took a second to breathe and check in with ourselves before we reacted to someone who we find aggravating? I ask this question as someone who, too often, doesn’t take the time to breathe, and then afterward find myself struggling with enduring feelings of shame and regret as opposed to the sought-after feelings of safety and strength. I imagine that the harm I inject into the world when I react isn’t doing anybody any favors, either.
What if we made a pact to do this? What if we agreed to take just a second to breathe and check in with ourselves before reacting? To pause to ask ourselves, “What am I reacting to here?” or “What’s really happening here?” And maybe even take it a step further by looking on this aggravating or quarrelsome person as a human being who has suffered just like we have. Someone who has known moments of loss and hurt. Someone who’s connected to others who love and care for them. Someone who, borne of the same, often irrational and unsettling feelings that we experience, also reacts blindly.
I’m not suggesting that we all seek to become Gandhi or Mother Teresa. It’s just a question. What might the world begin to look like if we made this sort of agreement? Might it soften just a little? And, remembering that the people that we love and care for are also out there in the world, might that be of some use?