When the Volcano Erupts: 10 steps to finding your way back, after you’ve lost it.
Posted on January 29, 2013
Do you know the feeling of being emotionally assaulted? As though someone took a knife and stabbed you right where it hurts the most, then twisted the knife, poured salt on the wound, and topped it off with a squeeze of lime? What comes after is a torrent of emotion that even a seasoned meditation and yoga practitioner can have a hard time keeping at bay: devastating grief, piercing hatred, or volcanic anger.
I’m working on expressing my emotions more clearly, even if they are not the pleasant kind. There is a steep learning curve for this I am realizing, and I must forgive my many missteps along the way. Part of that process involves being closely in touch with the emotion and knowing where it comes from, before responding in a way I may regret later. When something occurs that inspires an intense reaction, it’s hard to communicate with any sense of clarity and often things can get a lot worse before they get any better. So what do you do when something like this happens? After a recent experience of feeling like my head was going to explode, with the help of dear friends I learned some important steps that can be taken to bring me back into my body, and back to reality.
1) Stop talking ASAP. If you feel the rage rising up in response to someone’s words, try with all your might to not open the floodgates of superlatives and thrashing insults that are screaming to come out your mouth. This will likely turn your rage into intense guilt later on.
2) Exit the scene. The best thing you can do is put physical and silent space between you.
3) Pray for peace and compassion (I always forget this and it’s the most important! Thankfully I have many people to remind me). When you’re angry, it’s easy to forget to ask for help from a higher source. But if you do, help is there.
4) Call someone you trust to calm you down and give you clear perspective on the situation. Some friends or family might make it worse by egging on your anger and hurt. They love you and are only trying to help because they feel your pain, but you don’t need someone to fan the flames. Instead, you need someone to assure you that you are not insane, and to point out that the other person was acting in response to their own perceived danger. They will also remind you to take care of and protect yourself. That’s all you can really do.
5) Do NOT text or call the person to whom your rage was directed. The sense of urgency to reach out and make things worse or try to make it go away is the ego clawing for justification or a conclusion to an uncomfortable situation. Sit in the discomfort, and wait for a more rational time to respond.
6) Get clear on where you stand, then decide what you can take responsibility for without diminishing your point of view. This might take a while if what the person said or did felt so wrong that your outburst felt completely justified. But just sit with it, meditate, pray, write about it, talk it out, and the clarity will come.
7) Find empathy. Chances are, neither of you were acting from your highest place, and just as wretched emotions were triggered in you, there was something that happened along the way that set this person off. This does not make what they did acceptable, but it shifts the power from one of hatred (which is draining) to one of compassion (which is energizing). How does this person need healing? How do you need healing? Pray for both of you.
8) Pay close attention to shifts in energy and emotion, and ride those waves rather than creating new ones. This I did not do and it resulted in more fighting and arguing. When we were in each other’s presence later, the energy was lighter and sweeter. But I had already prepared my speech and stuck with that even though I knew it didn’t feel quite right anymore. My message was important, but the delivery was wrong. It was an opportunity to be strong and decisive with softness rather than stone.
9) Once you’ve made your point, hear the person out and in your new more calm, peaceful and compassionate state, either respond with care or choose nonaggressive silence. Just let them know they were heard.
10) Be willing to move past it. Don’t attach yourself to any visions of a certain outcome. Instead, be present with the reality of the situation and closely in touch with what feels right in your body, and your heart. Go with it, even if it’s drastically different from the turnout you expected. Expectations are probably what led you astray in the first place.
Take good care of yourself! Be kind to you and all those around you.
With Love & Wellness,