Monday, July 6, 2015

The profound perils of unchecked rage


There have been too many tragedies that have rocked us to our foundations lately. There are plenty we don't know about or think about. Like every death on the road to which we are habituated unless we knew those that died. There are others the media won't allow us to ignore. Like the death of young Luke Batty or the beautiful Jill Meagher - because weren't they everyone's child at sporting practice and everyone's young friend having a night out with her workmates?
Then there was the freakish death of Phil Hughes playing a game of cricket and our latest public tragedy and domestic violence fatality - Phil Walsh.
But beyond the sadness there are messages. Messages we need to heed and pay attention to far more than we need to read the unsavoury blog posts of Walshy's son in the lead up to his father's death.
One good message is that compassion can trump competition. Of course football is only football. It is not world peace but football brings people together and sometimes football leagues and football players can do the right thing and use their profile in the most positive of ways. I applaud the AFL for the simple and moving gesture of the combined huddle at the conclusion of every match played this weekend. Nathan Buckley and Alastair Clarkson led the way on Friday night and their display of comradeship, empathy and community was authentic and heart-warming. 
This latest tragedy is a wakeup call in gratitude, mindfulness and taking nothing for granted. That does not mean we should spend our lives in trepidation about what could be but rather how much there might be to celebrate about what simply is; things that stare us in the face every day but that we just don't see. I know I have days like that and yes, I teach resilience and positive psychology. 
And for me the ultimate message is to deal with our rage; for it kills relationships and it kills our health and it even kills people. But I know it's not easy for people to let go of their rage and I see it in organisations reacting to change. For to deal with our rage is acknowledging unequivocally that our feelings and our own state are within our control. And 'dealing' may require us to relinquish blame and let go of some of our most cherished beliefs.
I implore all of us to think about how much there is to gain if we do and I wish only comfort to suffering families and friends.