I was observing an elderly man in the underground station who seem to be very upset, walking from one side to the other and talking to himself all the time.
A group of students were playing, shouting, and pushing one another near this man. Suddenly one of the students tripped and fell right in front of that man, making him fall, the old man obviously got really mad, yelling and accusing the young guy of attacking him. But the student instead of apologising and helping the old man to get on his feet again, he began answering back to him calling him blind and useless.
The elderly man of course, got even more furious and stood up trying to punch the student, most people saw the scene from this point since all the shouting had attracted their attention until that moment, but they didn’t see the beginning of the incident.
So when they saw a grown up man trying to hit a young lad, they began attacking him and this incident turned into a whole mess.
I managed to get hold of the old man’s arm and pull him out to safety. And after explaining the mob what had happened they turned their anger against the student, but he and his mates had fled the scene and after a few minutes the only people left on the quay were this gentleman and I.
Then he began to scold me for not being faster and stop the incident before, but I just explained to him that everything happened so fast that I had no time to do anything to prevent it from happening.
He began to get really angry once more and instead of being glad that I was able to pull him away from that mob, he began getting more annoyed by the minute. I was in shock but instead of getting angry as well, I felt he was carrying something heavier in his heart and that could be the real motive why he was responding so aggressively to everyone around him.
I must admit that, few months ago I would have reacted aggressively towards him, but after carrying my own heavy load on my back, something inside me told me that what he needed was not more aggression but, understanding.
So I asked him about his life and he began to tell me a long and terrible story about losing his mother the day before, being jobless and hungry and full of diseases and many other unfortunate situations that were making this man angry with the whole world.
I told him that I understood his feelings, I had been in similar situations before, but the only way out of that rampage of “bad luck” was changing his attitude towards the world.
A “losing streak” is usually a by-product of our negative emotions getting worse and worse and therefore attracting more “bad luck” to our lives and sometimes it gets so uncontrollable that we end up really “crashed and burned” and the only way to stop that down swing is stopping our negativity and swim against the current until we can “neutralise” the bad flow.
This is our real job, sometimes it is indeed, the hardest, but definitely the best way to stop the stampede of bad events from cascading upon us is changing the polarity of our thoughts and feelings, creating a more relaxed and happier disposition and environment where new and more positive things could appear faster.
When I told this to that man, he had a puzzled look at first, but after a few seconds he smiled at me and shaking my hand just said: “Thank you, I think you are right and I am going to try it now”. And left.
I stood there for a while, reflecting and wondering if I could have reacted the same way as this man, if someone else had told me that in the middle of a crisis.
But there is a big probability I wouldn’t be so reasonable as this gentleman…
Anyway next time someone is attacking you verbally, remember not to take it personally, they might not be charging against you, but just venting their frustrations and anger on the first person they could find. You.
Do not react like them. It is not really personal, and we all can make that mistake in some way or another.