BEing Journal – Spreading Thoughtfulness
I have had a number of conversations recently, in various areas of my life, that all seem to have a common thread which I think is important. It is my observation that, in general, people are feeling worried, anxious, unsettled and fearful. They don’t feel safe, and when we lose our sense of safety other behaviours come to the surface.
So, if you are experiencing family, friends, or others in your community, who appear less tolerant and kind than usual or more reactive and angry, remember we have all spent the past 7 months, and counting, repeatedly being told that we not safe and that the world is a dangerous place. This has had an impact on many, if not all of us to some degree.
In behavioural science there is a term called emotional contagion, where we see the spread of a behaviour (good or bad) through a group, a community or even society, as people are reacting to a repeating message, and feeling the need to fit in with the emotions of others around them.
We need to remind ourselves more than ever that, although there is no excuse for poor behaviour, we need to remove the emotion from our response, and non-judgmentally deal with the facts before us. The more of us who can present a calm and thoughtful patience to the world (and to the difficult behaviours out there) the better the chance we have to start a new, more positive contagion – one that in my mind, the world needs right now.
Next time you are faced with a display of less than desirable behaviour from another, stop to take a breath. Spend a moment thinking about what else might be going on in their world right now. And try to respond with thoughtfulness and empathy.
And, if in doubt follow the golden rule: Just SMILE and NOD!