Can we change how we feel in an instant?
Imagine you are speaking to someone, and a sense of irritation creeps in, and then you can change that in an instant to a sense of peace or compassion!
Imagine without nothing changing on the outside what if we could change how we feel in a situation by replacing the thought that created the thinking?
What do I mean by replacing the thought? Let me share this amazing experience I had recently.
I was driving back from Ooty with my family. Those of you who may be familiar with the terrain may know that the narrow steep road that takes us to the hill station becomes even riskier as we come down. Music on, just having had a sumptuous breakfast, enjoying the cool chilling breeze in April, watching the green tea gardens we were slowly moving down the mountain. Since it was a holiday season, there were quite a few vehicles behind and ahead of us. There was a decent traffic coming up against our drive. It was the usual traffic of people who were reaching Ooty for a holiday while we were coming back. At certain spots, the traffic was being held as people were trying to get their best pictures in the backdrop of the mountains, the lush tea gardens, and towering Nilgiri forests. As we eased out of those spots and there was more or less a rhythm to our drive, my husband noticed a car just behind us honking repeatedly.
My first thought was, maybe he wants to overtake us and said to myself “How can he even think of overtaking on this narrow road?”. After nearly five minutes as the honking continued, we started talking amongst ourselves about how people ought to “behave”. The sound of the honking was piercing through my brain, all the fun had disappeared and I was feeling miserable. After a while, I slowly started being aware of the frequency of the honking, and I said to my husband “The mountain curves are pretty dangerous so in a way his honking is probably helping us by alerting the approaching car on the other side” And suddenly I had a flash, and in that moment I saw the person not honking at us but, honking at every blind curve he was passing. He probably was trying to keep himself and his family safe by making that hoot at every blind curve to signal any vehicle coming from the opposite side! Probably he felt safe by doing that.
I gently looked behind, and this time when I saw the driver, I had a smile all over my face. I would not know if that was exactly his intention, but in a second, I felt different. My body was relaxed, and the sound of the horn suddenly lost its impact on me, just like a deflated balloon loses its shape.
For the rest of the journey, I hardly heard him, and by the time we had reached Bandipur Jungle the car had lost our trail.
This simple incident gave me a deeper understanding of how by changing a thought our experience changes. While nothing on the outside moved or shifted, replacing my internal lens changed my view suddenly. And that new view gave me immense peace.
I also realized in that moment I had set myself free, and that I was able do that by removing myself from the place of anguish to a place of possibilities. I allowed myself to come up with probable positive outcomes that the other person might be having in their mind.
As a coach, though I work with people, I am humbled with such experiences. I feel grateful for moments like these that take my personal growth to a deeper level.
And I love the fact that I am still learning.
“While people and circumstances certainly matter, what’s even more important is what we think about those people and circumstances.”