5 Reasons Why Being ‘Up in Arms’ is Dumb


Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Business, Psychology, Relationships, Spirituality, Thought | Posted on 09-10-2017

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[Jill’s Note: If you prefer to listen rather than read, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the audio version.]

Have you ever noticed how certain people are always up in arms about something?

Are You Always Up in Arms?Whether it’s a situation at work, home or in our social circles, we can easily find a reason to feel put upon. As soon as one problem is cleared up, there’s always another around the corner. Plus there are plenty of horrible happenings in the news to feel bad about just in case we can’t find anything to complain about locally!

No doubt, there are a zillion things we can be up in arms over. But why would we want to? It seems kinda dumb to me.

Here are 5 reasons why being up in arms is dumb:

  1. Being up in arms is not a statement of what’s going on, it’s a state of mind. Anger and resentment are always and only judgments that we make. To be clear, it’s not the person or situation that causes our bad feelings, but the meaning we ascribe to the thoughts that popped into our head. While we can’t help making judgments, we have some choices with what we do with them. We can learn to see them as pointless, or we can latch onto them and complain to anyone who will listen.
  2. Being up in arms is our own interpretation of events and nothing more. Let’s say someone at work says something that could be interpreted as rude by societal standards. If we happen to be in a high state of mind, or generally have a thick skin, the comment may go completely unnoticed. However, if we happen to be in a low state of mind or bad mood, we may get riled up over it. But we don’t have to. At any given moment, any and all situations can be interpreted differently.
  3. Being up in arms keeps us in a bad feeling state. In the example above, we can see how someone saying something rude cannot in and of itself create bad feelings within us. The ball is in our court as to how we feel. Bad feelings are always and only (innocently) created by the power of thought in the moment. Rude comments don’t make us feel bad. Nor does a fight with our partner, an obnoxious President, global warming, racism, a bad hair day, a lack of money, stupid people, bad drivers, or a mean boss. However, remaining up and arms for more than a few minutes (or seconds) does create a bad feeling state within us.
  4. Being up in arms doesn’t help us to take action. Many believe that when we get riled up over a situation, it gives us the impetus to do something about it. However, coming from an angry state of mind is never useful. Anger is our ego thinking it knows what is best for the world. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do things to change or fix the injustices we see in the world. If we are inspired to create change, that’s awesome and we should totally go for it. However, we are always more effective when we come from a higher, loving state of mind than an angry defensive one. It’s just common sense.
  5. Being up in arms will literally make us sick. Whether it’s always having colds, or having a more serious illness, there’s a strong correlation between living in prolonged states of stress with having health problems. Our bodies weren’t designed to have stress hormones flowing through them continuously.

While we can’t choose our thoughts, we can choose whether or not to listen to and/or feed them.

We all have judgmental, angry thoughts. Even the most enlightened among us! But our thoughts are not who we are. They are not really us. Our true self lies underneath the judgment and anger. So when we get up in arms over anything, it means we’re unintentionally holding onto and believing some meaningless thought energy. Nothing more, nothing less.

Those of us who get riled up on a regular basis may not even realize we’re doing it because it feels normal. In other words, it’s become a habit. And like any unwanted habit, the way to change it is through awareness. When we pay attention to how we feel and notice when we start to have those “up in arms” feelings, we’re better equipped to let the associated thoughts simply pass through us.

The more aware we become, the more we notice how we think and feel. From that place it’s a lot easier to see just how ridiculous most of our thoughts are. So why would we want to get ourselves up in arms over some silly thoughts that happened to pop into our heads?

At some point, it just won’t make sense anymore.

Remember, our judgmental, riled up thoughts are NOT who we are at our core. Our true self makes no judgments about anything or anyone. Who we are knows that the real us is always mentally healthy and whole regardless of whatever craziness seems to be happening in our own little world or the world at large.

— Jill

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Jill is the author of Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety

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For the past 20 years, Jill has consulted with companies big and small, and spoken at conferences all over the world. She is currently a transformational speaker and mentor to businesses, individuals, coaches, leaders, groups and organizations. She helps them uncover their natural well-being and happiness so that they can operate from a clearer state of mind and take their lives and businesses to a higher level.

Jill's blog, What Did You Do With Jill? is a personal account of what she's learned throughout her transformational journey. Jill has many "viral" articles on LinkedIn and is a contributing writer for P.S. I Love You.

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I wanted to read more of what you have to share, but your article about being “Up in Arms” is–wow–just written wrong. You sound like you have no idea what community organizing or politics is about. I am so very proud that I care enough to make phone calls, sign petitions, write letters, and occasionally show up for a rally. Your use of being up in arms as a way to describe letting thoughts pass through is just not appropriate for these times.

First of all, it was dumb (immature? disrespectful?) to use the word “dumb.” Second, it seems that you are among those that think that anyone who gets riled up is wrong. OUR COUNTRY IS IN A PILE OF PROBLEMS!!! Donald Trump is not “politics as usual”. The renewed interest in white supremacy is not normal. I fear you are like the proverbial frog in a pot of water, that won’t know he’s “cooked” until the water is boiling.

Our president exhibits reprehensible behavior, and I truly believe that he is not of sound enough mind to have the final word against North Korea’s nuclear missile threats. His goal is to turn back everything good that’s been done in the past 60 years.

That’s all I can say right now, because I need to read about the newest bill to repeal the ACA. I am going to call my senator today about it. And I am very proud to do so. I am an American, and to be an active participant is the essence of being American.

Hi Amy,

Thank you very much for commenting. However, I’m afraid that perhaps I wasn’t clear in the article, as I had no intention of saying that people should not be political or not take action or do the things that they believe are important and will help the world.

My article is strictly talking about how we feel inside of us. That is what I meant by “being up in arms.”

You see, it is my believe that one can do all of the things you’re talking about, but from a place that doesn’t create stress within you about it. (See #4 in my list.) In my opinion, we don’t need to feel horrible inside in order to take action. And in fact, I believe that we are much better equipped to deal with the things in the world that we disagree with, when we come from a place of love, rather than a place of anger and/or tension.

Hope this makes sense and clears things up a bit. I’d be happy to have a chat with you about this if you’d like.