I was waiting to make a left turn into the local coffee shop parking lot and blocking the way, so someone behind me started honking aggressively. I could have probably gone faster and cut off oncoming traffic, but I value life too much for that. I’m also a fiery fighter at heart—I don’t take s**t from anyone—so my natural response for years would have been to just shout and curse them back. Fight fire with fire baby….
That kind of energy from behind feels like a violation, but people don’t realize their own power—they really don’t realize what they’re doing! After many years of self-training I’ve learned to manage the energy so that when people send it over I can just feel it and let it move through me. I won’t push back unless I’m having a particularly bad day or just feeling very pissed off myself. I might still judge their actions with a twinge of emotion or disgust though.
When this happened today I muttered under my breath, “a–holes.” It didn’t have a lot of energy behind it, more of just an observation, ‘those people are being a–holes’. But this time it just didn’t sit with me. ‘Why am I judging them?’ I thought. Probably because I’m still mad for being pushed against with that aggressive energy. Because like all of us to different degrees I’ve experienced that all my life and it does not feel good.
But here’s the thing: maybe they weren’t being inappropriate at all — maybe they were just being themselves. Using their own conditioned response. Maybe they were stressed because they needed to get somewhere and it was an emergency. Maybe because all of life feels like an emergency to a lot of people right now, so our emotions are heightened. It’s not even conscious — we need some way to let off steam, so that’s how we do it.
There’s this truth about relationships that when any strong energies or emotions are not addressed or released in one partner, it comes through like a steam valve in the other. So, basically, we are all steam valves for each other in society.
The empaths and artists are the biggest release valves — more like industrial steam pipes — providing a really necessary and valuable service that is not really seen or recognized. But that’s another topic for another day.
Today I remembered a really great practice that helped to diffuse and heal the aggressive energy for me. (When I say remember, it’s just that it feels like something I’ve learned a thousand times before, and today it just made sense and seemed valuable.) After I made the turn and was pulling into a parking space, I was musing about my judgment there… ‘Are they really a–holes? Maybe they’re just being aggressive and honking.’ And the words came to mind with a little compassion, ‘oh, so aggressive!’ Just a touch of humor and perspective, and that felt so much better.
Then I thought, ‘that feels like a really great teaching I could write about!’
Suddenly the energy had been activated inside of me to do something positive. So you see, there is real healing in that. For myself in this case mostly— witnessing and transmuting the energy with compassion—but also potentially for those who receive it. Maybe you will remember the next time you get flipped off on the road. You will have some compassion and not take it personally. You will just witness with wisdom and name the energy, and then put that energy towards something good! Then I will have done a little something worthwhile with what I have.
People throw energy around in the form of anger and violence every day with little awareness of what they’re doing, or what effects it has. Then we wonder why so many people die from unnecessary accidents (more than 30,000 transport-related deaths every year in the US — see the odds of dying).
We lost my beloved sister ten years ago in a car accident with someone who was likely not driving mindfully. There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel that sting. Do you really want to be one of those people? Do you want to put your energy towards more aggression and violence in the world? Or would you maybe want to heal the aggression inside yourself with compassion, so you can be a more productive and kind human?
Fire can be good! When you use it as a creative force instead of a destructive one, you’re sort of softening the fire with love. It can never really be tamed, but you can learn to work respectfully with fire and contain it with your boundaries. You can learn to keep a good bucket of water nearby. So instead of letting it run completely wild and burn everything down, you can be an instrument of positive change.
There are so many more metaphors I can think of here, from the need for controlled forest fires to the way we obtain our fuel for the fire. A little fire is good — necessary even — but I’ll leave it at that for now. You can be healing society and the communities you are a part of, every time you drive around town. Kinda cool hey? :)
Feel the energy, witness and name it compassionately, then use it towards some good in the world.
p.s. there are times when fighting fire with fire is appropriate and necessary—pick your battles and please always use your energy and judgment wisely!