Remember the famous line in the movie Network when Peter Finch, aka Howard Beale, tells the nation, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore”? (If not, it is a great movie and one well worth seeing). Beale’s diatribe encourages people to join him in chanting this out their windows and suddenly the nation is galvanized behind this failing newsman.
People, like Howard Beale and myself, tend to take a lot of stuff thrown at us…’stuff’ that really doesn’t fit with our sense of self, values, or how we really want to live our lives. However, for whatever reason, (mine is not wanting to upset people and keep things peaceful), we don’t rock the boat, create a fuss, or put our foot down. Sigh…
The explosion is loud, long and surprises those around you. You have reached the moment when you can no longer push things down inside. You have reached your limit. The switch is thrown to on and you erupt.
Well, I do anyway. And it isn’t pretty. It happens most often when I have neglected taking care of myself. After saying yes to more than I can possibly accomplish, one more request puts me over the edge. After too many times of cancelling my plans to make someone else’s life easier, a disappointment, no matter how small, sends me down the rabbit hole. After working all day, fixing dinner, and prepping for the next day, a forgotten event or need for additional school supplies, can turn me into a raving banshee.
And those around me who witness this stand gaped mouth wondering why am I ‘mad as hell and don’t seem to be taking it any more?’
I know why. Lack of time for myself. Lack of self regulation. Lack of self- compassion.
Instead of rallying a nation of angry, stressed out folks to my side, it is time to network with my family and friends to set better boundaries, schedule regular time outs for myself and to take full responsibility for my situation.
I love what Nichiren, a 13th century Buddhist monk, wrote: “one’s environment and circumstances actually mirror one’s inner life.” If this is true and I am tending toward its basic truth, then I have created the ‘madness’ myself by accepting and perceiving certain ideas of my own about how I am supposed to live my life. If I want peace, calm and lower stress in my environment and circumstances, then I have to make room for it inside of me, develop ways to nurture it and help it to grow. No easy task.
But the madness of Howard Beale wasn’t all that easy either and in the end turned out to be something others exploited and manipulated for their own gains.
It probably wouldn’t have made a very powerful movie if Beale had declared ‘I’m peaceful and calm and I’m going to increase it every day’, but watching him do that may have been far more inspiring and helpful.
For me, I going back to a mantra I devised for myself years ago…I’m going ‘to find the fun and live the joy.’