Sometimes there are people in our lives, or situations that occur, in which behaviors or outcomes present a conflict. Whether the presenting conflict is internal or external, direct or indirect — the conflict is experienced, and has an influence over what happens next. The feelings, actions, and behaviors generated from the conflict are 100% dependent on the choice we make about how we perceive the situation. Many times our fight or flight instincts kick in and we react immediately.
Those times when someone puts off negative behavior. A comment on social media, an attitude, a rude driver, someone speaking to their child or children with an awful tone in the freezer section at the grocery store. Naturally, you react. You react emotionally *and* physically to negative situations. Even if you succeed in choosing to react in a kind way, it doesn’t necessarily express compassion. Compassion is a response which considers that the other person is (unconsciously) expressing suffering.
Redirecting Your Frustration
So, can frustration be transformed into compassion? Absolutely. So far it has taken practice, determination, and a lot of work (more work than I expected). It sounds simple enough to choose compassion once you realize the choice is there, but sometimes it isn’t easy.
The good news is, we can condition ourselves to recognize – and then ignore – our immediate reactive thoughts. Following a reactive thought, we can redirect our awareness to the Higher Self by asking: “How can I be compassionate in this situation?” Instructing yourself to “be the bigger person” only seeks to satisfy the human ego and doesn’t necessarily leave room for transformation. Instead of feeding into a reaction, try overpowering it by:
1. Sending a prayer of positive thoughts or light to the person
2. Considering the lesson that the situation presents
3. Simply choosing to take a deep breath and find something to be grateful for in your life
Something I have noticed since I initiated this shift within myself is how it has opened up doors for deeper connections with people I wouldn’t have expected to connect with. I have also realized how frustration affects my perspective of even unrelated situations. Consciously choosing to be compassionate in times of conflict gives us the insight we need to transform ourselves.
When I watched the film 10 Questions for the Dalai Llama several years ago, it was incredible to see the Tibetan monks not reacting at all to the violent acts being inflicted onto them. I burst into tears during those clips, to witness such unnecessary violence against one of the most peaceful societies on the planet. It also stirred up a lot of painful feelings about how our native ancestors were forced out of their villages here in what is now America. Oppression still occurs everywhere, everyday, in some form. But we can still choose to be compassionate.
Life is an ongoing presentation of choices. We are building this life for ourselves based on those choices, and it isn’t so much about “choosing wisely” — it’s about choosing clearly. To do that it is helpful to slow down, consider the bigger picture, and allow the better choices to become clear. Is choosing to be compassionate something that can be mastered? Perhaps. Is getting angry necessary sometimes? Maybe. Showing compassion is a pretty amazing accomplishment. And I think that every single one of us is capable of doing it.