View this post on Instagram
One day I was walking with a dog along the beach.
I sat then witnessed a man yelling at two young toddlers who were with him. The little girl was crying, and he was yelling, “Stop crying!” This, of course, just made her cry more.
It triggered me, reopening old wounds because growing up I was berated for my sensitivity.
The man looked like a young, slightly rough around the edges grandpa in his 50s or 60s. The toddlers couldn’t have been more than two years of age and it didn’t seem that they were doing anything wrong, but the man did seem to be in an angry mood, taking it out on the kids. I felt immediate anger toward him and wanted to do something to help the children.
Yet I know better than to react from fear. When we react from fear, we feed the fire. If I lashed out at the man “stop yelling at the children,” I would be mirroring his behavior and instinctively felt that my doing so could result in fueling his anger with the possibility of his taking it out on the kids.
So, I decided to ask for help.
I handed the matter over to something greater than myself and lingered nearby hoping the answer would come. The man’s anger was escalating, so I walked toward him with the hope that my being nearby would make him stop—but he didn’t stop.
He continued to yell at the little boy to pick up his toy, and the boy froze on the spot. As I walked by, I picked up the toy and handed it to the boy and said with love, “Here you go, buddy,” hoping this would help.
But I’ll be honest; I was still angry at the man, and my actions inspired from judgement with an ever so slightly hoity-toity undercurrent that insinuated “this is how you’re supposed to talk to children, Sir!”
When the man’s back was turned, I smiled and waved at the little girl with all the love I could muster, and she immediately lit up like a Christmas tree. She was smiling from ear to ear, excited to see a friendly face. I thought maybe I’d done my part, but as I walked away, something within was pulling me back.
As the man was struggling to pack up the beach umbrella, he was still yelling at the kids, so I took a deep breath, handed it over to the universe again, and pleaded, “Please, if I’m supposed to do something, show me what it is I’m supposed to do.”
And just then, I felt a strong impulse that sent me straight up to the man then asked, “Are you okay? Do you need some help?”
Much to my surprise, my voice was filled with pure love without a trace of judgement.
Before my eyes, the man softened, looking like a vulnerable child himself. Then he said, “Nah, thanks. I’m okay.” With compassion, I responded, “It’s hard taking care of two kids on your own, isn’t it?” He sighed, almost with deep relief and said, “Yeah, and I forgot the pram!” We both laughed a little then shared a warm goodbye.
As he walked away, he was no longer yelling at the kids. Something had shifted in him—and in me. I felt nothing but peace.
It wasn’t just the man (and the kids in effect) who benefited from our exchange; it was me. In releasing judgement and forgiving the man, I was also forgiving those who’d hurt me in the past as well as forgiving myself for the times I’ve hurt others.
Afterward, I realized that just the day before I’d been working through some personal development exercises that focused on letting go of old guilt. One of the things I was letting go of was old guilt for the times when I had unconsciously hurt others and there was one time in particular in my 20s when I was upset and unconsciously took it out on my younger brother by yelling at him for making a mistake. It wasn’t exactly the same, but there were similarities.
The compassion extend to others is reflective of our ability to extend compassion to ourselves. We’re all connected, so when we love others at their worst, in turn it deepens our connection to the love within each of us.
Even when I found myself judging, I found it possible for me to hand that over and realign with love.
As Albert Einstein said, “We can’t solve a problem from the mind that created it.”
Guilt continues the cycle and perpetuates the behavior. Judgement keeps us in fear. Anger exacerbates anger.
The only thing that can extinguish guilt, judgement, fear, and anger in an instant is love.
May you give and receive lots of it this Christmas.