Does peace within equate to peace throughout?

I just got back from the movies. My husband and I saw A Star is Born and, seriously, it was amazing. Lady Gaga was perfect as Ally and Bradley Cooper…ahhhhhh. His eyes, his voice…be still my beating heart! But, I digress. This post isn’t actually about all the tears I shed at the end of the movie. It is about something that happened at the beginning of the movie.

My husband and I settled into our comfy chairs next to a couple who were pleasant enough and greeted us as we walked in. The previews had ended and the movie was beginning shortly after we took our seats. Perfect timing.

I was ready to be transported from the movie theater into the world of Ally and Jack. Just as the theater dissolved around me, just as Lady Gaga exited the tunnel during one of the first scenes, the man next to me turned around and yelled very loudly, “Would you please stop talking!”. His tone was assertive to put it mildly and abruptly brought me right back to reality.

I hadn’t even noticed that someone was whispering a couple rows above us, but I sure noticed after that. The whispering ladies must have been deep in their conversation because they paid the man no mind and continued their hushed exchange.

The man was in a rage at being ignored. I could tell because his arm was literally shaking next to mine as he continued to strain his neck to spy his nemesis. Before I knew it, he was getting up out of his seat while the woman next to him begged him to sit down. He ignored her and moved down the row to confront the women directly. They took the hint that time and stopped talking.

After the confrontation, my husband and I tried to settle back in but I couldn’t mentally leave the theater and give all my attention to the movie because I was on edge, wondering what the guy might do next. I imagine everyone in the theater was feeling the same way. At one point a few minutes later, I turned to my husband to tell him that Ally was played by Lady Gaga because I figured he had not picked up on that yet. He looked at me with daggers in his eyes to get me to stop mid-whisper, afraid that the gentleman would turn his wrath on me next.

That was the quietest movie theater I have ever been in…people were even nervous to laugh at the funny parts. My husband finally figured out it was Lady Gaga about two-thirds through the movie when he dared to use a nearly inaudible whisper to ask me, “Is that Lady Gaga?” Yup. Tried to tell you that about an hour ago.

I really wish that guy was a student at Quincy Elementary. Our six-year-olds could teach him a thing or two. We are learning about the Zones of Regulation and he definitely could have benefitted from having strategies to use when he was at yellow to help prevent him from going to red. The Zones of Regulation was created by Leah Kuypers, MA Ed., OTR/L and is described on her website as, “​A framework to foster self-regulation and emotional control”. We are finding it to be a valuable asset in providing common language to help us understand our own emotions and how to manage them.

Yes, people should be quiet in the movies. Especially when Bradley Cooper is singing. for sure. But, I wonder if the whispering would have bothered people as much as the emotional outburst.

One of the most important lessons of the Zones of Regulation is identifying when we are in the yellow zone. When we are feeling worried, frustrated, or anxious it is so important to have strategies to help us get back into emotional regulation BEFORE we make everyone around us uncomfortable. BEFORE we embarrass our loved ones. BEFORE we do something that we will regret.

I get it, I’ve been there. I have gone from green to red in 10 seconds flat. Especially when my internal emotional test tube is close to full. Especially when someone does something that hits one of my weak spots. We all spend time in the yellow and red zones and, at Quincy Elementary, we are so grateful to be able to learn “peace within” strategies right alongside our students. It is amazing how the lessons intended for our students are actually changing our thinking and our conversations.

We teach students to focus on their breathing, to have a matra like “I am so calm” to turn to, or to do something like take a walk when they are in the yellow zone. What might have happened if the guy next to me at the movie tried one of those strategies first? Would the ladies stop whispering on their own, therefore allowing everyone to enjoy the movie without fear of being the next target of his rage? Or, maybe they wouldn’t have stopped and someone near them would have quietly addressed it with them? Who knows, but I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if he used the strategies and lessons that we are teaching our students.

What might happen if we all use the lessons we are teaching children to implement?

Does peace within equate to peace throughout?

“Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” —Wayne W. Dyer






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