By Stacie Rose
Ever get cut off on the road while driving only to be consumed by so much rage that you become a version of yourself that is practically unrecognizable? Ever feel cheated,
shaded, ghosted, ripped off, disrespected or that an injustice so profound has been
done that you begin to feel an uncomfortable kindredness with the Grinches, King
Kongs and Darth Vaders of the world?
It isn't pretty-- or good for your health! The ability to consciously choose to take the high road saves you precious time and tears and helps divert stressors that cause a litany of physical and mental ailments.
Feeling we have been wronged can trigger feelings of stress, rage, or just your garden
variety of intense feelings. It's often best not to say or do anything while mad
because acting without thinking can create steep consequences. A little league coach once said he doesn't let parents air their grievances right after a game. He was willing to listen to complaints about which kids got to pitch, who didn't get to star in the game, etc..24 hours after the event. This permits caregivers to cool down, collect feelings, and speak from a place of calm, allowing the conversation to
be constructive and cordial rather than explosive.
Breathing is a foolproof way of calming the sympathetic nervous system, which triggers
the body's fight or flight response when activated. By consciously breathing and
focusing on the cadence and soothing ocean wave quality, you allow your nervous
system to restore itself to a place of quiet lucidity. Sometimes, the moments it takes to
connect with your breath are just the right amount of time to help you recalibrate and
find that high road-- avoiding the proverbial highway to hell and all the repercussions of such a journey.
“Always take the high road, it's far less crowded."
Perhaps when you were a child, you were encouraged to count to ten when feeling
overwhelmed. It remains a solid tactic. If counting to ten doesn't cut it, you can aim for
twenty or even a hundred. Counting helps refocus attention, rethink our stance and
consider more angles. Combining breathing and counting can be the secret sauce to set you back on a path of rational decision-making.
“When angry, count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred.”
Once you can cultivate a sense of calm and see clearly, you can think clearly and clarify
the situation. Perhaps some bridges are meant to be burned, but many
situations need not end in flames. Taking the high road doesn't mean willingly accepting other people's garbage. It means doing the right thing. It also means doing the thing that will sit well in your body and mind and not cause unnecessary pain or stress, keep you up at night and weigh you down. Ted Lasso fans might fondly remember an upbeat Ted-ism that goes like this…
"Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing."
It's age-old wisdom that began with Mark Twain, and it still holds true.
"It is never wrong to do the right thing."
Consider Your Worth
Once calm, you can consider your worth and decide if taking the high road aligns with
your values and how you wish to walk through this world. Taking the high road means
leading by example and showing others how it's done. This should not be at one's own expense. We must always advocate for ourselves and our loved ones, check in with our expectations and what we are hoping to gain from a situation. Being classy, graceful, poised and stepping into our power are gifts we can give ourselves along the journey to that high road. This is a true form of self-love.
We must live with the decisions we make. Using clarity and calm to see things from a
different angle makes all the difference. Our actions, as well as inactions, matter.
Causing hurt, shame, or ignoring someone because they hurt you may only
cause you more pain. Never let anyone walk all over you. But also, never let anyone
steal your peace. There are ways to accomplish both.
"If it costs you your peace, it's too expensive."
Setting healthy boundaries is a valuable skill. Putting tools in place that help you feel
empowered and emotionally supported can make it easier to make choices you feel
good about in the face of adversity. If we disallow others to get the best of us or steal our peace of mind, we are protecting ourselves and focusing on the positive things we can do to remedy a situation and keep it from reoccurring.
This High Road stuff can be challenging all through life. The challenges may seem
endless, from angry commuters to family drama, politics, poor citizenship across social
media, dissatisfied customers, to naturally occurring grumpy human behavior. Nobody
likes to get hurt or have their feelings invalidated or disrespected. Life can be harsh and unfair sometimes. When we give ourselves permission to be angry, hurt, disheartened, disappointed or done with something, and still find a way to rise above, set the tone, smile, breathe, release frustration and be the light we wish to see- things can take a very different turn -for the better. This is revelatory stuff, this pulling of ourselves out of the muck, this patience, this greatness in all of us, this beautiful trust in ourselves that our intuition will lead us to that high road which will ultimately take us to a place of less internal destruction and more illumination. This is an epiphany worth celebrating on the road worth travelling.