Encounters of the “Dreadful” Kind

Fear (or terror) is the root of all anger.

Do you get angry often? Want to change but don’t know how? Try the five “whys.” Ramit Sethi recommends asking yourself “why” five times to get to the root of procrastination, but I think it can help identify all types of suffering.

Example:

When I drive, I get angry with drivers who are slow and get in my way.

Why?

Because I’m tired and I just want to get home.

Why?

Because my clients were terrible and I want to relax.

Why?

So I can feel good and forget about the day.

Why?

It was a hard day because I don’t feel good about how I handled one of my meetings. I’m afraid I didn’t seal the deal (or impress the boss, or look good to others, etc.)

Why?

Because I didn’t prepare well enough… I went to bed too late last night….I wasn’t at the top of my game…I don’t like my job…

By the fifth why, you usually get to the real root of the problem. It’s not the traffic, but your fears that drive your anger.

Painful events and relationships are lessons to us. Life is a persistent teacher and homework will keep coming until you’ve passed the test.

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Whooo’s angry?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unbound

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On an atypically warm Antelope Valley morning,

the llamas blink a declaration of hunger at me

 

I walk down the dusty, winding trail

surrounded by mountains that remind me of my great inconsequence

 

It’s Thanksgiving and my dog’s eyes brim with unflinching love

as she accompanies me, untethered, down the path

 

I’m beholden – we all are – every single one of us,

to those who have embraced us and to those who have pushed us away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo by Hailey Kean

 

I was ten and at a slumber party. My parents rarely ever let me spend the night at a friend’s house, so I was thrilled. We had pizza and a pillow fight. As it got late, one of my friends put a large paper boat on top of her head. It looked like a Vietnamese rice paddy farmer hat – a coolie.

coolie hat

She bowed and said,”Ah so!” Everyone laughed. They thought it was funny. I got angry. I was the only Asian girl there.

Now, decades later, I know that anger is a symptom of sadness and pain. I was hurt because what she did made me feel like an outsider, I felt different from them. But did she mean to do that? No. The pain I felt is what I caused because I assumed (at first) that she was being malicious, but she wasn’t. I projected my feelings and beliefs on her.

If you are suffering (worried, angry, sad, insecure, jealous, etc.), you are causing yourself pain. You are choosing it. I know it sounds over-simplified and not entirely true, but it is. Mental illness aside, if you’re wallowing in self-pity or proud to be a road rager, you’re choosing it.

You can choose to be at peace instead.

 

 

Bitter Pills

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Sometimes, the best teachers are not our favorites.

The best teachers in my life have been bad bosses, miserable jobs, serious illnesses and cruel “friends.”

Where there’s pain, there’s a lesson.

 

When Helping Hinders

 

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When I was in fourth grade, I went rollerskating every Friday night. Every Friday night. My mom dropped my sister, brother and me to the rink and left for a couple hours and then picked us up. Sometimes, she stayed and waited, hand bag slung over her arm, watching with worry. (Thanks, mom!) After awhile, my sister and brother didn’t want to go, so I’d be dropped off alone. When I first started, I fell. A lot. I held onto the walls and fell and got back up. Pretty quickly, I gained my balance and before you know it, I was the fastest skater out there. I couldn’t get enough of it.  Overhead, we had the disco ball, the strobe lights, the BeeGees! It doesn’t get much better than that, people!

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I still go rollerskating now, four decades later. My daughters won’t go. They don’t enjoy it. Neither does my husband. So, once again, I skate alone. I go hard for an hour and then I go home.

I went today and many kids were using this, in record numbers:

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It’s called a “skatemate”.

One boy using a skatemate fell and his dad ran out on the rink (with shoes on) and picked his son up. He ran behind him, pushed him gently to give him a bit of acceleration and then he left the floor. Not much later, his son would fall again. Out came dad, running to pick his son up. Mind you, his son was about 9, probably a fourth grader. I was impressed by the father’s sprint, his unwavering attention to his son and his intention. Clearly, he cared. But maybe he cared too much about the wrong thing.

I’m pretty sure his son is going to take a long time to learn how to rollerskate. I mean, what with the physical crutch of the skatemate and then the mental crutch of being constantly rescued, he doesn’t get to practice much.

Learning often necessitates frustration, time and yes, pain. But the rewards are well worth it.

 

 

The Mother Land

Recently, I discovered that Korean refugees from North Korea are actually discriminated against in South Korea!

I couldn’t believe it. Where is the humanity? The abuse and absolute horrific treatment of North Korean civilians by their government is well-known so why would South Koreans greet them with anything but open arms?  It’s clear that education and empathy are absent.

Enter an amazing South Korean TV program called, “Now On My Way to Meet You.”  It’s an example of using media as a powerful medium for positive social change. The program first aired December of 2011 and, despite the tagline which alludes to “North Korean Beauties,” it does anything but objectify these escapees. You can read more about it and watch a clip here: Cari’s Blog. Basically, these women play games, laugh and recount their stories of life in North Korea for an enormous South Korean audience. The result?  An empathetic reaction where South Koreans are understanding and seeing these women as people.  The culture is slowly evolving into a supportive, loving one towards their sisters and brothers.

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Sewol Heroes

I have numerous cousins, aunts and uncles who live in South Korea and I have visited the country three times. In 1999, I was there for two months on an NSF research grant and I fell in love with the land and people. As news of the ferry disaster unfolded, there was a collective sigh of exasperation, shock, and anger all around me. How could this happen? The students were told to stay put? Why?!

If my father had not decided to immigrate to the United States, I could have been born and raised in South Korea. In fact, if that had happened, I would likely have been married with children a bit earlier (and who knows?)  I could have had a high school student on the ill-fated Sewol ferry and be mourning his/her death right now. These connections and possibilities only make me ponder our roles in life. I’m a teacher and I’m proud of it because I can actually impact 32 young people per year. But… can I do more? The producer of “On My Way to Meet You” has created such a critical solution to an enormous problem.  What if we all stopped asking why and started asking how? HOW can I help this situation? I think it’s a powerful question.