Free Yourself

Taking-crazy-thingsSometimes you realize you’re being held hostage by someone else’s instability, mental illness, or addiction. This can only happen if you care deeply in the first place; that is, if you’re invested in the relationship, or if this person is in your life and it’s not easy to extricate yourself from all communication or connection (your boss or colleague, for example). Often, we meet people and they may present one face to us, but inside it’s a whole different story. It takes time to get to know people, and even time won’t get the job done if a person wants to keep things from you. We only ever know the interior world of another person if they give us access to it.

If you’re a warm, trusting, open person, you probably project and assume that other people are also that way. That’s what we all tend to do, we make assumptions about other people based on how things are for us, and that’s a great way to have your eyes opened, but it probably won’t feel very good because we can never assume, and we can never project. We all have our various upbringings, experiences, ways we were supported or neglected, different tendencies and dreams, varied emotional lives, relationships, things that are driving us consciously or unconsciously, heartbreaks, levels of resiliency, disappointments, achievements and fears. How things are for me is not how they are for you, but we exist in this same world. We just cannot expect other people to see what we see, even the things that seem totally obvious to us.

People with addictive personalities are usually very good at hiding their addictions or tendencies, and I don’t say that without compassion and understanding. It’s awful to be a slave to a numbing agent, to feel like you have to have access to your “fix” at all times, whether we’re talking about drugs and alcohol, or sex, or the internet, or shopping, or eating disorders. So you might observe erratic behavior in someone you’re getting to know, but think it’s just an “off day” here and there. Mental illness can work the same way. Maybe you’re dealing with a personality disorder that renders a person unable to consider how their actions impact the people around them, but unless you’re a target, you might go a good long while before feeling like something isn’t right.

Sometimes, in order to be close to someone, you have to accept their version of reality. Maybe you’ve known people like this. I once had a girlfriend who had a serious drinking problem. When I’d try to talk to her about it, she’d say she was a social drinker, and I was over-worrying, but I poured her into a cab enough times to know this wasn’t something to sweep under the rug. I talked to her mother about it, but she wasn’t ready to face it, either, and when I refused to be quiet about it, my friend wrote me off. In certain situations, there’s nothing you can do but walk away and hope a person decides to get help before it’s too late.

There are many people attached to their stories about what’s happened in their past, and why things are the way they are, and why they are the way they are. I lived that way during my late teens and early twenties, and it was awful. Blame keeps you stuck pointing, when you really want to be digging. You’ll find most people living this way are angry or bitter or depressed, and probably all three. I once became friends with a guy who had story after story about how he’d been screwed professionally. First by this company, then by another, and I believed him, I believed he’d been unfairly overlooked, unappreciated, and mistreated. Then he went to work for close friends of mine, and I watched him blatantly sabotage every opportunity he had to grow. He was more attached to the sad story than he was to writing a new one. When I tried to point that out to him, he became enraged. Sometimes people cling to their stories because they aren’t ready to take ownership of their lives yet. They use their anger like a shield, and anything you try to say or do bounces off. It’s understandable. We all have our coping mechanisms, and you can’t make a person be somewhere they are not.

If you’re attracted to the “walking wounded”, you’re probably going to encounter people like this, and I’ll just remind you in case you need to be reminded, you cannot save anyone. You can love people and you can try to get them help and support, but you can’t make another person happy, or compassionate or kind or loving. You can’t make anyone fall in love with you. You’re not going to change the way someone moves through the world. This is all inside work; everyone has to do their own journey. You can decide who you want to bring close, and who you want to keep at a distance. Often, you won’t have to make these decisions, they’ll be made for you. If you back someone against the wall and ask them to be accountable for what they’ve done, and they aren’t ready to do that, they’ll head for the hills, anyway. Pay attention to your tendency to draw people close who aren’t able to do anything but hurt you. Don’t participate in someone else’s instability. You can’t fix it, but it also doesn’t help when you enable it. It doesn’t help them, and it doesn’t help you. Create boundaries where necessary, and defend them when you must. You can’t control what other people do or say or feel or want or need, but you can control the way you choose to respond. Just keep your own side of the street clean, the rest will take care of itself.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

Grappling with Your Truth

plansMost of us know what’s true for us long before we act on it, especially when we’re talking about making huge life shifts. Sometimes we agonize for weeks, months, or even years, because so much hinges on maintaining the status quo. This can happen in our personal and professional lives. People stay in jobs that crush their souls for all kinds of reasons. Some are practical—they need to keep a roof over their heads and food in their refrigerators, or they need health insurance for themselves and their families. Sometimes the reasons have more to do with low self-esteem, or a lack of self-respect. People tell themselves every day that they are not good enough, that they don’t measure up, that they should be thankful for what they have, because who are they to think that things could be different? Who are they to pursue their dreams? There are all kinds of reasons we convince ourselves we’re stuck, and when you’re speaking about the necessities of life, of course those are real. But if you’re in a job that’s sucking the life out of you, I wouldn’t accept that as “the way things have to be.” I’d do everything in your power to seek out another opportunity somewhere, because 80 hours a week is a lot of time to spend feeling like you want to scream.

It happens in relationships, too. Sometimes two people come together, and despite all their best efforts, they grow in different directions. Maybe they came together when they both had healing to do, and attempted to cover their individual pain with a relationship. Maybe there are kids in the mix, and now it’s brutal; staying is painful, and leaving is painful. Sometimes those are your choices. It’s human to agonize when we’re faced with a decision that impacts the people we love, but ultimately, if you’re in a situation that’s crushing you, you’ll never be able to nurture yourself, or anyone else to the best of your ability. Maybe you can get creative. Maybe you can go for radical honesty with your partner, and come up with a way to stay, and not feel like you’re losing yourself, and maybe you can’t, but allowing your light to go out is never the way. Numbing yourself or editing yourself until there’s almost nothing left of you won’t serve anyone. Distracting yourself, running, denying, keeping everything on the surface level will not be sustainable for the long haul.

So what do you do? I think first you get quiet so you can really allow yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling, and face those realities head on. There’s no point hiding from yourself. That doesn’t mean you have to act on your feelings. It’s just that it’s such a relief to acknowledge them, to lean into them, to accept them, and accept yourself. Then, at least, you’re dealing with your own truth. Getting support from someone objective is also a great idea, and communicating honestly is a must. I don’t believe anyone would thank you for keeping them in the dark, or staying in something out of guilt, shame or pity. Maybe you can resurrect the thing, but the only chance you have of that, is if you start building with blocks of truth. You can’t build anything that lasts on top of lies, bitterness, resentment or rage. You want to be seen, right? You want someone to see you, to understand you, to cherish you for the person you are, but you give no one the opportunity to do that if you repress what’s real for you. Is it scary to start a conversation that may change the course of your life, and the lives of those you love? Absolutely, but it’s less scary than decades of betrayals, emotional or otherwise, and I’m talking about the betrayal of your own heart, as much as anything else here.

If you want to be at peace, you have to allow what is true for you to rise to the surface and spill out of your mouth, kindly, confidently, and with compassion.

Sending you love, and wishing you peace, in the coming year, and always,

Ally Hamilton

You Take the Keys

pemaheartsWhen I was in college I had a roommate for one semester, I’ll call her Jane. I didn’t know her, we were just placed in a room together. Jane liked boys. A lot. I walked in on Jane with so many different Tarzans, we finally devised a system. Not that Jane was ever troubled if I showed up in the middle of her eggs being scrambled, I just found it awkward, and Jane was annoyed by the fact that I found it awkward. When I wasn’t interrupting something, I’d come back to our room and find sweaters of mine thrown in a corner, sometimes stained, or I’d go looking for a pair of shoes only to discover Jane must be wearing them. She was catty, and cold, and never had a kind word to say about anyone, not that she talked to me much. I tried to get to know her, but she really wasn’t open to that, nor did she have any other girlfriends. If I saw her on campus, she was almost always with a group of guys, and might acknowledge me with a look, but not a friendly one, and not usually. One morning I walked into our tiny shared kitchen and howled because I stepped on a shard of broken glass. Jane had knocked over a vase, and simply thrown a towel over the mess. Finally, frustrated and done, I requested a new roommate. The paperwork took a few weeks, but there was light at the end of the tunnel.

One afternoon after I knew my days with Jane were coming to an end, I walked in to find her alone in her bed. She looked awful, her cheeks were flushed, her eyes were glassy and she was groaning. She had the kind of flu where you just want to dig a hole and bury yourself until it’s over. Her fever was incredibly high, but she refused to let me take her to the nurse, so I went to the store and bought soup and juice and bread for toast, and came back and made her a little lunch. I sat on the edge of the bed and put my hand on her forehead, and Jane started crying. Not just a tear or two streaming down her face, but the kind of crying that sounds more like keening. Primal, deep wailing. I was stunned, but I just held onto her until she quieted. It turned out Jane’s mom had left when she was a baby, and never looked back. Her dad had raised her but he wasn’t the most emotional guy. No one had ever made her soup before. I wish I could say this was the beginning of a close and lasting friendship, or tell you that I still know Jane and that all is well with her, but that moment with the soup was all there was, because the next day Jane was back to her dismissive ways. In fact, she was even more hostile. When I packed up my things before winter break, I left Jane a card with my new phone number and a note that said she could always call me for any reason. I never heard from her, but I think about her a lot. Especially when I meet someone who’s challenging to be around, or whose behavior is difficult to understand. Everyone has pain, everyone is struggling with something.

When you feel as though someone is “driving you crazy”, understand they can only do that if you let them. Checking in with yourself when you’re feeling enraged, frustrated, trapped, or shut down with someone is really essential. Sometimes a complete stranger can “drive you crazy” by talking loudly on their cellphone in a cafe, or not holding a door open, or letting you merge on the freeway. Sometimes it’s someone you like who isn’t responding the way you wish they would. The story that matters is always the story of our participation. What about the situation is triggering us? Why, for example, would you allow the driving habits of a stranger, no matter how annoying they might be, rob you of your own peace? Or affect your blood pressure, or the way you’re driving, or what you’re doing with your own middle finger? What is the real source of the anger or insecurity or lack of trust this person is tapping that already exists within you, and did long before s/he came into the picture? If you’re really tweaked, consider whether it’s old stuff. Are you feeling powerless? Rejected? Abandoned? Are you repeating a pattern of interaction that feels awful and very familiar at the same time? This is the way challenging people can become some of our best teachers. The potential for growth and greater understanding about who you are and where you’re at is always available. If someone cuts you off on the freeway and you feel a surge of heat rush to your face, you really ought to be yelling, “Thank you!” and not, “F&ck you!” out the window, because they just helped you release and explore some of the rage that was already within you. Next time you’re dreading hanging out with that person who drives you up and down a wall, see if you can turn it into an experiment where you drive instead. They can do and say anything at all, and you will still drive your own car, peacefully and mindfully, slowing down whenever you need to hop out and explore the terrain.

Sending you love, and wishes for a peaceful ride without the use of your “traffic finger” 😉

Ally Hamilton

Take Your Power Back

dalaisufferEveryone makes mistakes, it’s part of the reality of being human, but sometimes people cling to their rightness. I was friends with someone many years ago who could never say he was sorry. In his view, he was never wrong about anything, and if ever I went to him with a question or concern or disappointment about something that had transpired between us, he would tell me it was my own negativity and/or lack of gratitude. Needless to say, the friendship did not stand the test of time. In order to be close to people, you have to be willing to allow them access to your interior world. You have to be willing to stand there, with all your flaws and all your beauty, and hold the gaze. And when you do not show up the way you want to or mean to, you have to be able to own it and say, “I’m so sorry, I blew it” That way, you give the other person the chance to look you in the eye and say, “It’s okay. I see you for who you are, I understand you have some pain. I forgive you.” Then, you know you have a true friend.

Sometimes people reject parts of themselves. There are few things more painful than an inability to accept something essential about yourself. If you want to be at peace, I really don’t know any other way, than to face those places within you that are still raw; those places where you still have some healing to do. Anything you push beneath the surface will rise up to bite you in the a$$, again and again until you reckon with it. You’ll repeat the same patterns in all your close relationships, at work, as you’re driving in traffic. If you have rage, it will erupt, if you have shame, you’ll find yourself pushing people away, not because you want to, but because you can’t stand to have them get close enough to see what you really are. Not that your perception is accurate, because shame will cloud your ability to see yourself clearly, but you’ll believe you’re unworthy at your core, and that will seep out in more self-destructive ways than you can count, until you face it and deal with it head-on.

Anyway, my point is, sometimes people have a construct they’ve built to cope with their pain or their heartbreak or their disappointment or their rage or their feelings of being on the outside looking in. Maybe in order to live with themselves, they’ve had to make “the way things are” someone else’s fault, or they’ve decided the world at large is unfair, and most people can’t be trusted. So when you approach someone in that state and you ask them to be accountable for something they’ve done, they simply cannot do it, because their whole life philosophy hinges on this idea that they are always right, or that bad things always happen to them.

The thing is, when you dig your heels in and point fingers, you give your power away. You make your unhappiness someone else’s fault. It’s no different than hinging your happiness on external events, like, “I’ll be happy when I lose ten pounds, or drive a different car, or have a bigger house, or meet the right person…” Happiness becomes something you chase, instead of something you dig to find within you. That’s the only place it can exist, after all. Your happiness cannot lie in someone else, or in some future event. It has to be unearthed, and you may have noticed you cannot dig and point at the same time.

I’m not saying awful, heartbreaking things don’t happen, because they certainly do. Sometimes people are careless or self-absorbed or lost to themselves, or nine million other things, but it’s always in our power to decide how we’re going to respond to what it is we’re given. We can’t control circumstances. We can’t manage another person’s path. The only true power we have lies in facing ourselves, and making the world within us a peaceful place to be. That takes enormous strength and courage, but it also gives you your power back.

Wishing that for you, and sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

Weathering the Storms

Between-stimulus-andSometimes life feels like a huge storm that sweeps in and throws us off center, carrying us up and spinning us around until we can’t tell north from south. This can happen when someone with whom we’re close is in pain, and we feel helpless to stop their suffering, and end up suffering ourselves. It can happen when we lose someone we love and are faced with that gaping hole where a whole world used to be. It can happen when unexpected events turn our plans upside down, and it can happen when we, ourselves feel pulled to make changes.

The reality is, we are in control of so very little. The only thing you can really control is the way you respond to what life puts in your path, and even that takes enormous effort. We can make a practice out of choosing the thoughts that strengthen us, rather than the ones that weaken us. We can make a daily, hourly effort to see all the gifts around us, whether they exist in the fact that our heart is beating for us, or in the sunlight streaming through the window, or the rain pattering on the roof. Maybe there’s a gift in the eyes of a stranger, or someone who knows you and sees you for who you are. We can think about what we say before we say it. We can try to align ourselves with the truth in our hearts, and move from that space. We can share our gifts, we can give away our love, because we’ll never run out. When we love people, we can tell them, and not as a throw-away thing, but in a way that makes them understand we see them, really. These are all things we can do.

We’ll never control what other people do or say or want or need, nor should we try. Everyone has to do his and her own journey. Most people just want to be happy. A lot of people attach their happiness to external events, markers, or milestones. It’s not surprising, it’s what we’re taught culturally. Sometimes people feel frustrated or enraged or in despair because they just can’t seem to grab that brass ring. They can’t get that great job, or meet the right person, or look the way they want to, or get life to bend to their will, and so they lash out, or shut down or numb out or run away, thinking maybe a different direction or path or person or house or job or car or diet will finally solve it. But it’s an inside thing, and you don’t need to pick up and go anywhere. You really just need to sit down and get quiet. Mostly, we have the answers. We know what we need, but we are not always ready to accept what we know.

One of the greatest and best things we can all work on, is non-reactivity. There will always be storms, after all. Things will happen that we don’t expect or want. People will always surprise us, sometimes in good ways, and sometimes in ways that rip our hearts out. If you work on inner steadiness, no one can take that from you. This, to me, is one of the most powerful and amazing gifts of a consistent yoga and seated meditation practice. The ability to connect with your breathing, slow it down, and feel it happening, is both simple and profound. It’s a way of reminding yourself that you are here, right now. You have that, and because you’re present, you can see how things are with you. You can scan your body for tension, and when you exhale, maybe you can soften a little. Maybe you can relieve yourself of the illusion that you’re in control and have life by the reins. When you do that, you grant yourself the greatest power you’ll ever have. Fighting reality is exhausting. Creating constructs where you’re in the center of the world, and everything is happening to you and around you is not going to bring you any peace or strength. Recognizing that you’re part of something so much greater, that you’re connected to everyone and everything around you, is a much more expansive and accurate way to perceive reality.

Most people are not trying to hurt you, or me. Most people are trying to piece together some happiness for themselves. Having a breathing practice gives you the power to pause when things or people around you get intense. When you’re on your yoga mat, and you hold a lunge pose for eight, ten, twelve long deep breaths, you train your nervous system and your mind to breathe through intense sensation. Rage creates intense sensation in the body. Loneliness does as well. So, too, do fear, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, envy, joy, excitement, and gratitude. All of these feelings create chemical reactions in the body. Most people have an easy time holding the emotions and sensations that feel good (although not everyone has an easy time receiving love, embracing joy, opening to contentment), and most people struggle with the emotions and sensations that hurt like hell, such as grief, despair, and hopelessness. The thing about feelings is that they don’t last forever. Storms come and go. People may also enter and exit our lives. It’s incredibly likely things will not go according to our plans. For so many people, an uncomfortable feeling arises and they want to flee, or to numb out, or deny its existence.

If you can’t sit with uncomfortable and painful feelings, there’s no way to know yourself. Knowing yourself is at the heart of every spiritual practice. Otherwise how can you know which way to turn? How can you discover what scares you, what’s holding you back, what frees you up? How can you recognize your unconscious drives if you numb out every painful feeling that fights its way to the surface? How can you feel good about the way you’re leading your life if you lash out whenever you feel threatened or angry or envious or unheard? You don’t want to be a storm yourself, but that’s what it’s like when we can’t stop and breathe and lean into our painful feelings. We’re just an unpredictable storm barreling through life, leaving pain in our paths. Not intentionally, but just because we don’t trust ourselves. We think if we do that, if we stop and give our rage a chance to catch up with us, it will overwhelm us, but it’s the running away or pushing it down that does that. Creating some space between your feelings and what you decide to do with them is brilliant. It’s powerful. That’s a skill you can put to good use so you can direct your energy toward ideas, people, and pursuits that will uplift you, and not the stuff that tears you down. As always, you’re welcome to try a little yoga online with me if you’d like. You can sign up for a 15-day free trial, here: You have nothing to lose but your feelings of being powerless in the face of life’s storms. Life does not have to be that way.

Sending you love, and wishing you peace,

Ally Hamilton

Be a Survivor, Not a Victim

victimvillianOne of the worst things you can feed is a victim mentality, and let’s get right to it—sometimes horrendous, heartbreaking things happen to kind and beautiful people. Maybe you grew up in an unsafe environment and spent most of your childhood trying to be invisible or indispensable. Maybe you saw things and experienced things no one ever should. Maybe you grew up and had a terrifying interaction that turned everything you thought you knew inside out, and maybe you’ve endured a loss that feels impossible to comprehend. These things are all possible. I hope none of them have happened to you, but they’re all possible.

I say this to you with total compassion and empathy, I really truly get that life can break your heart sometimes, but it will never ever serve you to define yourself as a victim. Your much better option is to choose the role of survivor. Life is not fair. We all want to make it make sense, we want to create order out of chaos and uncertainty, but it can’t be done.

The pain in this life is real, and it’s not dosed out in equal amounts, so if you’re reading this and you’ve had to carry something that hurts so much it’s hard to breathe, I get it. Of course there are less dramatic events that might cause a person to feel that life isn’t fair, and that they have a rotten hand to play. Again and again, it comes down to what you’re going to feed. Of course if you’ve suffered losses you have to give yourself time and space to mourn and grieve, and how much time and how much space is completely personal, and something only you can move through.

I’m not talking about grieving, though. I’m talking about letting your losses and experiences harden you, so you move through the world bitterly. When we tell ourselves that things have happened that have “broken” us for example, when we define ourselves as broken, the implication is that we cannot be healed. When we clutch a story to our chest that explains and excuses why we are the way we are, we’re also letting ourselves off the hook for doing anything about it. You can’t control what’s happened, but you can certainly decide how you’re going to respond.

I see so many people who cling to their rage like a shield, who dig their heels in and demand that everyone acknowledge their version of reality. Who recite the list of ways they’ve been wronged. The thing is, it’s exhausting. It’s like a full-time job to be that enraged, you really can’t get much else done. It’s such a miserable state to be in, of course you want to numb out and check out, and look to external things or people to “make it better.” It’s not like bitterness tastes good.

Whatever has happened might shape you, but it doesn’t have to own you; at a certain point, at any point, you can decide to take ownership of your life. You can figure out what you might be able to change, and get to work changing it. This might be the way you interact with people, it may be the tone and message of your inner voice that needs work. Some things you won’t be able to change; other people would fall into that category. You can never change what someone else needs or wants or says or does, but you can always change the way you respond. You can decide to rise up; with every breath, there’s the potential to begin again.

If we’re pitying ourselves, we’re stuck in the past. We’re dragging the past along with us into our present, and holding it up for everyone to see, even our brand-new friends, and we’re demanding that other people reckon with our past, when that job is ours. If they want us, they have to accept this whole bunch of baggage we come with, but they don’t, and we don’t have to drag it along with us, either. A pity party isn’t very fun; you’ll probably have a tough time getting people to show up. Someone who looks their pain in the face and then deals with it (whether that means reaching out for support, or exploring healing modalities until they find something that works for them), that’s a person who’s ready to live. If you want to be free of your pain, you have to reckon with it. You don’t bow down and let it own you, you challenge it to a duel on a bright day, so you can bring all that darkness into the light and take a look at what you’re facing. Sometimes we think the face-off will do us in, but it’s the running that does it.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

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Don’t Give Your Power Away

peacepilgrimWhen we allow outside forces to upset us, we’re giving our power away. Yesterday as I was driving, waiting to take a right on red, the man behind me started laying on his horn. He couldn’t see the oncoming traffic because his view was blocked by a van to my left in the next lane, but I could not have taken that right safely, so I was waiting. My kids were in the car, and as they do, they were asking me for a play-by-play of what was happening. “Why is that man honking at you?” “Because he wants me to drive.” “Why aren’t you driving?” “Because it isn’t safe.” “So why is he honking at you?” “Because he’s full of rage.” “Why is he full of rage?”  Anyway, you get the picture.

Not only was this guy honking, he had his other hand up in the air, and I have no doubt he was shouting expletives at me, because his face was red and his lips were moving in my rearview mirror. When I took the turn, he pulled up next to me at the next light, and my kids were looking out the window at him, even though I told them not to worry about it. My son, who’s like an investigative reporter, wanted me to roll down the window so he could ask the guy why he was angry. I did not oblige, but we did talk about anger, and how it’s a natural feeling everyone experiences and that the important thing is what you do about it. We also talked about frustration, and about inner power.

We’re all going to have our moments, I certainly have mine. It’s possible that guy was having an exceptionally bad day. Maybe there are really challenging things happening in his life right now. Maybe there was an emergency at home. Or maybe he always drives that way, because he feels deeply dissatisfied with his life, and the way it’s unfolding. The thing is, if something that small gets a person that upset that quickly, that rage or despair was just underneath the surface.

Sometimes my kids get upset about something someone else has said or done (sometimes they get upset with each other, too, haha), and a big phrase at our house is, “Don’t give your power away.” If, for example, my daughter wants to play with her older brother, but she doesn’t want to play the game on his terms, sometimes she’ll come find me with her lip quivering and her voice about 10 decibels higher than usual. Other times she’ll yell and I’ll tell her to take a couple of deep breaths so she can talk to me in a “regular voice”, and that she doesn’t have to give her power away, just because she’s upset about something her brother is doing or not doing, and sometimes it’s reversed. Sometimes my son will do something he knows he shouldn’t, and when I ask him what’s going on, he’ll try to tell me his sister did something that caused him to do this thing he shouldn’t have done, at which point we have a conversation that goes something like:

Me: “Is your sister in control of you?”
Him: “No.”
Me: “Who’s in control of what you do and say?”
Him: “Me.”
Me: “Okay, then who’s in trouble right now, you, or your sister?”
Him: “I’ll go apologize.”
Me: “Great.”
Him: “Do I still get dessert?”

Anyway, my point is, we all do this stuff, all the time. Someone we don’t even know flips us off in traffic, and we allow it to affect our blood pressure. Or someone we do know says something thoughtless, and we stew about it for hours, losing a whole afternoon we can never have back. Or someone we’ve just met rejects us, and we feel stung and desperate for days or weeks. Something amazing happens and we’re elated. Something painful happens and we’re depressed. There’s no power in that. If we’re victims of circumstance, we may as well accept that life isn’t going to feel very good a lot of the time.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to let the guy behind you at that light get you riled up at all. You could allow that to be his problem to solve. You could even send him some compassion if you have it in you, because maybe it really is unusual behavior for him. If it isn’t, he probably needs even more compassion, because that can’t be a fun way to live.

A lot of people struggle with anger. Some let it out in unhealthy ways, so it explodes all over them, and everyone in the near vicinity. Other people repress it, and end up depressed, because it takes a lot of energy to sit on an active volcano. Some people numb out, feeling they’d better blur the edges and check out, or their rage will overwhelm them. Not facing this stuff is what does us in. Learning to sit with intense sensation is one of the major ways we retain our power, and our peace. Intense emotion creates intense sensation. So when you feel enraged, you might notice your breath is shallow, or your shoulders are up around your ears, or your face feels hot, or your heart is racing or your fists are clenched. If you can observe sensation, you’ll draw yourself into the present moment. Then you might be able to examine what’s come up for you, and why you’re feeling so triggered. That way you create space between an event, and the way you choose to respond to it, and that’s power. Don’t give yours away.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here.