The Company We Keep
We all know those friends who firmly believe that misery loves company. They are the ones who seem to thrive on drama and simply cannot wait to share their latest event that has occurred in their lives. Part of being a friend is listening but sometimes friendship is a one-way street with all the sharing being done by the other person.
Often a person who is abaitual whiner is someone who is best listened to and ignored. Sometimes just being there and then giving them some space to work through their latest incident is all that is desired. A hug or simple hand squeeze can also work wonders.
Sharing anxiety is not generally a way for someone to control your own emotions. However, we need to be certain that we do not, in the guise of being a good friend or coworker, buy someone else’s problems nor fall prey to their panic. It has become fashionable to use drama to make one seem important and that is sad, in my opinion. Coping with issues does not improve someone’s esteem; living so that you do have control over issues does.
So how do we control our reactions when a friend simply has to “rant” or talk about their latest difficulty? A mindfulness expert and spiritualist, Thich Nhat Hanh, has some great advice and it uses something as simple as a facial half-smile.
Anytime or place you find yourself affected by someone’s expressed anxieties as well as life’s curveballs in your own life, simply make a half-smile with your mouth. Nhat Hanh advises to look at “anything which is relatively still and smile.” Maintain the spot of your attention as you own true nature.”
Music is a great way to escape and cope with anxiety. It is especially easy with today’s technology to listen to music for two or three minutes practically anywhere. If the piece is instrumental, listen to the different instrumentations. Whether pop or operatic, focusing on the words is another way to zoom in on the mindfulness of the moment. The tempo, style, and/or rhythms also help convey the sentiment of the music. Allow your mind to concentrate on that and then focus on your breathing to help discover calmness and peace.
When you realize you are becoming anxious or irritated, half-smile; then slowly inhale and exhale quietly, maintaining the half-smile for three breaths. Relax for a minute or two and then repeat this. Breathing is a well-known way to pace one’s emotions. Combine it with walking or slow deliberate arm or hand movements. Once you have combined your movement with your breathing, you can lengthen you inhalations for twenty to thirty seconds and then return to a normal breathing pattern.
We cannot control life or what people relate to us but we can control our responses. When we act instead of reacting to the drama of life and those around us, we are able to reduce the anxiety that often seems contagious. By using mindfulness, we are able to act.
If you can, find the time to sit in silence and imagine a leaf drifting slowing through the air as it descends. Allow yourself to slowly imagine yourself coming to a gentle resting place on the earth (or chair or bed). Continue meditating on the lead as it gradually comes to eath, allowing your mind and body to also arrive at a place of rest, a place of calm and joy.
Being mindful and present in a place of peace and joy is the perfect response when someone disrupts your calm. We can and should be compassionate with others buy we should not buy their problems. To offer calm and peace is a gift we give to others and ourselves by being mindful of the joy of living.