Most of us have suffered, or felt negative emotions as a result of our contact with some negative person. How can we help ourselves and them simultaneously? How can we be less vulnerable to their negativity? How can we help them to feel better?
WHAT IS A NEGATIVE PERSON
A person may be described as negative when he or she is unhappy, pessimistic, and in general, sees the negative side of life. There are two categories of negative persons. One is “other-inflicting”, and the other “self-inflicting”. Most are a combination of the two. The other-conflicting type criticizes, complains, argues and blames the others for his unhappiness or problems. He often rejects and abuses the others. He may be aggressive, and will usually take the opposite point of view in any discussion, regardless of what he really believes. He may tend to use hurtful, abrasive language. He often raises his voice and speaks in an aggressive manner. The self-inflicting person tends to blame himself, rejects himself, undermines his own health and happiness, is pessimistic, sees the problem and the danger in every situation, feels weak, unable and a vulnerable victim of life’s circumstances and also of the people around him. He continuously complains about life and its problems, and in general radiates an aura of unhappiness and negativity. Some combine these two types of expression of inner negativity. You may know a number of such people. You may be such a person. All of us are to some degree. What can we do when such a person is in our immediate living environment; a member of the family, our work environment or social circle? What can we do if we ourselves are such a person?
UNDERSTAND WHY THIS PERSON IS NEGATIVE
Most people are negative for a combination of the following reasons. We are usually negative when we have a poor self image, when deep within we really do not accept ourselves and do not believe in our selves or in our ability to face the world and its problems. We are lacking in inner security, contentment and feelings of self worth. Many are able to hide this fact quite effectively from others, and even occasionally, from themselves. They think they have self confidence and self acceptance, but their negative emotions and attitudes are clear evidence that deep within, they lack a feeling of security and self esteem. Otherwise their emotions and expression would be more loving, understanding and full of joy.
Some of us have been hurt in the past, perhaps in childhood, or adolescence, or even as an adult. The pain, rejection, dissillusionment, injustice and helplessness which we felt in those situations caused us to loose our faith in people, life, God and even in ourselves, and in our ability to be happy and successful in this world. Because we seldom look at those painful memories and have, for the most part, buried them deep in our subconscious, we are unable to analyse and free ourselves from them. Thus we are affected by them as if we had an open wound which has never healed, and every time something does not go the way we want it to, that new event irritates that old wound, which we may not even be aware of . This may be happening to that negative person in your environment. He may have been hurt and may be suffering, regardless of whether he realises it or wants to admit it.
Fear causes us to become defensive. Fear of harm to the body or personality. Fear of rejection, or being laughed at, or let down, may prevent us from being able to open ourselves to others or to trust them. A person who fears being hurt or rejected by others reacts in two basic ways. He may turn inward, closing himself off to the others. He may wear a mask and not express his real emotions or needs. Or he may become aggressive and keep people at a distance with his unpleasant behavior. We get locked into these roles which do not allow us to experience real contact with others; which is, in the last analysis, our main source of happiness, security and self affirmation. It is now being proved scientifically, through various research studies that close loving relationships are essential for good health. Each of us adapts various forms of self defence as children. Some of these defence mechanisms are developed from within as we learn to protect ourselves from hurt, dissillusionment and injustice from our parents, teachers, siblings, friends and the society at large. Other defence mechanisms are copied from our adult role models, usually our parents. We learn a certain type or behavior and continue functioning like that all our lives. The person who has been hurting your feelings may not really have something against you, but may simply be being controlled by defensive behavior, which was programmed into him as a child. We our selves, may have such defence mechanisms, which cause us to react negatively towards others, or to close ourselves off and thus loose the chance for real, loving, joyous contact with others. We may want to control our negative reactions, but they are often stronger than our conscious awareness, that is until we gain awareness through self analysis, self improvement and spiritual growth techniques. Perhaps those negative people in our environment are also being controlled by such mechanisms. Perhaps they too would like to get free, but do not know how to. Perhaps neither of us has the strength to admit his own negative habits so as to start making an attempt to heal the relationship. Can you admit your own negative mechanisms and reactions? Can you understand that the other person’s negativity is based on his fear, his lack of inner security, his lack of self love and self affirmation? Can you understand that he needs acceptance and love and patience from you? Can you stop fearing his negativity? Can you allow him to keep the ownership of his negativity and not make it your own?
UNDERSTAND THE MECHANISM BY WHICH YOU ARE AFFECTED
Are you annoyed by that person’s inflated ego and superiority complex? Does his anger and aggressiveness cause you to loose your inner peace? Does her continual nagging and complaining drive you up a wall? Does their criticism and blame make you feel defensive and aggressive? If so, you are a very normal human being. Most anyone would feel this way in these situations. There is, however, a way out. The way to get free from being affected by other people’s negativity is to go within and remove any traces of negativity within ourselves. Yes this is the solution. You may not like to hear this, it is true; we are affected by other people’s negativity to the degree that we too are negative. Let us examine the possibility of this being true.
There are two ways in which we are affected by what other people say and do. One way is the mirror effect. The world around us is a mirror which reflects to us our own past and present beliefs, thoughts, words, emotions, behavior, expectations, fears, desires and actions. These are reflected back to us through our life experiences – including our contact with other people. We send out subconscious messages (thought forms charged with energy) to the people and world around, who simply reflect those back to us in some way. Thus if I do not accept and love myself, I may attract rejection from others. If I do not respect myself, or believe I am victim of injustice, I may continue to attract abuse from others. If I am afraid of aggressive behavior, I may attract it from others. If I believe that people are untrustworthy, I may attract that aspect of each person. If I believe that people are in general negative, want to use me and don’t really care about me and are unable to really love me, then I will likely attract that part of each person. Each person has both a positive and a negative aspect. If I believe deeply in the positive, and approach people expecting love, respect and kindness, my own positive assuredness of this fact will draw those qualities out of that person. If I approach the same person, with fear, doubts and expectations of rejection, I will draw out that side of him. Thus we attract from people certain kinds of behavior which correspond with our already existing expectations, doubts and fears. If we feel that we are guilty, we may continuously attract unpleasant experiences, even illness, because we believe at some deeper level that we deserve to be punished.
In some cases the other may mirror our behavior. Our aggressiveness stimulates theirs. Our fear accentuates theirs. Our anger brings theirs to life. On the other hand our peace can calm them. Our love can help to set them free from their negativity. We are affected by their negativity only if that same emotion or state of mind exists within us, consciously or subconsciously. We can be affected by their anger, only if we have some anger, or fear of anger, within us. We are affected by their criticism only if we ourselves have a tendency to criticise others or ourselves or if we fear criticism. We will be affected by rejection only if we have a tendency to reject ourselves, or others, or fear rejection. If we love and accept ourselves and others, then we have no reason to be upset because someone rejects us. If we are feeling secure then we will not be affected by their negativity. Their criticism and blame can hurt us only if we doubt our self worth. Their anger can affect us only if we get into the role of the child and reject ourselves, because someone is condemning us. This is called sympathetic vibration, in which something in us responds or is stimulated by that in the other which has the same vibrational frequency. If we begin a process of self observation and self analysis and discover our own negative emotions, beliefs and tendencies, then we will not create so much negativity within ourselves when there is negativity around us. When we can change the “mental glasses” which colour whatever we see based on our beliefs, we will see a clearer more objective reality. Now these glasses make us see rejection where there is not; danger where there is not. We misunderstand other people’s actions and words because of our negative programming. If we can overcome fear and guilt, we will be free of most negativity. We are also affected by other people’s behavior when it reminds us of our own at some level. Often when we cannot accept something in ourselves, we find unacceptable in others. If we could accept ourselves exactly as we are with all our weakness and faults, then we would be able to accept others in the same way. Life is a mirror. The image appearing in the mirror changes only when the subject being reflected in the mirror changes. If we want to create a peaceful, harmonious, loving inner and outer environment, then we will have to cultivate inner security, self acceptance, self confidence, inner contentment and unconditional love for ourselves and others. This inner reality will then be reflected in our daily life as health, happiness, success and loving relationships with mutual respect and support.
WE ARE IN A PROCESS OF EVOLUTION
When we can understand that the person, who annoys us with his behavior is a soul in the process of evolution, we will be able to develop patience and understanding. We cannot expect perfect behavior from someone who is not perfect. Are you perfect? Aren’t there times when you would have liked to have functioned or reacted differently, but were unable simply because you are not that perfect yet? We are all in a process of evolution, which means that we are not perfect and that our behavior cannot yet be perfect. So it would be logical to understand and accept ourselves and others, when we are not able to function in the way that we believe that we should. On a spiritual scale most of humanity is about five years old, with some more mature people who are spiritually about 12 years old. What can we expect from children five and 12 years of age? Can we create the same type of understanding for the others’ mistakes and negativity, realizing that they are souls in the process of evolution who will gradually, with help, grow into more mature and correct beings. Seeing them and ourselves as spiritual children may help. What is the best way to help others to change? To love them, to accept them and to be totally honest with them. We can communicate with them concerning that which they do, which annoys us, without rejecting them or condemning them. We can discriminate between their act and their person. They are souls, parts of God. They can never be evil or unworthy of love. Their actions, however, which are coming from a low level of consciousness can be wrong and harmful to themselves and others. We can point out how we feel with their negative behavior, while simultaneously reaffirming our love for them and our desire to maintain our relationship with them.
WE CAN CHANGE OURSELVES
Another good way to help the other change is to change ourselves. When we get free from our own negativity, weakness and smallness, and cease to play those immature games of who is right and who is wrong, who is better, smarter, more correct, then the other will gradually stop playing also. He may, however, react even more negatively at first, as he panics, because we are not playing the same games we have been playing so long, and upon which the relationship has been based. But this reaction will pass as we ourselves become completely free from those past tendencies to play those games which only create hurt for both of us. The other may become more angry as we refuse to get angry. But this is all a test from life to see if we are really free from anger, or are just playing a new role. As we change and get free from our negativity, we will be less affected by the other’s negativity and thus we will not get into a vicious circle in which one’s negativity stimulates the other’s in an upward spiralling amplification, which leaves all of us feeling hurt, wronged, angry and perhaps even vindicative.
BELIEVE THE OTHER CAN CHANGE
We must be able to imagine the other can change. When making efforts to create a more loving honest relationship, if we cannot imagine the other person ever changing, then our efforts are a waste of time. That person may change towards all the world, but as long as we see him as his old self which we have known (and probably rejected) for so many years, he will remain the same towards us. Our inability to imagine him changing prevents him from changing with respect to us. Here is a technique which will help in such a case. Relax your body and mind through some technique such as deep relaxation, mind control, meditation or simply by breathing slowly and deeply until the mind relaxes. Let the eyes be closed and relaxed. Focus in the area of the forehead and relax that area. Now create in your mind in the area of your upper forehead the image of the person with whom you have communication problems. Focusing on that person bring into your mind five positive qualities, talents, abilities, characteristics etc. which could cause you to accept, respect, admire or love that person. Focus on these five positive aspects, allowing them to sink into your mind and change your feelings towards that person. Now imagine the person bathed in an aura of light and love, wishing him to be well, healthy and happy. Imagine him well and happy. Now bring yourself into the picture and see you and him engaging in various harmonious forms of activity and communication, Imagine that your relationship has already been transformed and that you respect and love each other. This will surely heal your relationship. You may have to have patience, but you will definitely have positive results if you do this daily. In some cases, the results will be immediate. You may find that you yourself have a bit of resistance to being able to find five positive qualities or imagining that you are in a happy loving relationship with that person. This is a clear indication of your own defensive negativity towards him, which is a major factor in creating this problematic relationship. If you encounter such resistance, you must realize how much more important it is that you persist in employing this technique. The problem lies with you as much, if not more than, with the other. You will both suffer if you do not get free from your resistance, hurt, bitterness and perhaps anger and can forgive and love this person, no matter what he has done to you or to a loved one of yours. Thus we can see that working on our relationships with “negative people” can be very beneficial for us because it gives us many opportunities for real spiritual growth. Meditation, reading spiritual books and prayer are tools of spiritual growth, but the real test of our spirituality is whether we can forgive and love those who harm us. Let us now discuss the various opportunities for emotional, mental and spiritual growth which are offered to us through our contact with negative people.
LIFE GIVE US EXACTLY WHAT WE NEED AT EVERY MOMENT IN ORDER TO KEEP GROWING
If we could believe and remember this truth when we are confronted by any difficulty, we would overcome that problem internally and externally much more quickly and effectively. Most people, however, do not believe this. And if they do, they tend to forget it when they need it most. It is an interesting concept which, if tried out and worked with for some years, proves itself to be true. I personally have seen it over and over again in my life. We develop inwardly through facing the difficulties and problems of life. The inner strength which we then gain gives us much peace and happiness. Not all people, however, grow through their negative experiences. Many become more fearful, depressed, more negative. These are the people who lack confidence in themselves, in others, in God and in life. Rather than look to see what they can learn from a problem, they hide from it, or complain about it, or strike out at others with wrongly aimed reactions of self defence. How can we handle our relationships with negative people for our own spiritual growth process, while simultaneously creating a more harmonious loving relationship with them? First we will need to accept that life is giving us exactly what we need for the next step in our growth process through the behavior of this person. We need believe that it is not a chance accident that this person is in our life and is reacting to us in this way. We have something to learn, some quality to develop, something to understand about ourselves or others, something to change in our way of thinking and acting.
WHY DO I NEED THIS?
After accepting that, for some reason, this is what I need to face at this point in my life, the next question is “Why do I need this? What is life trying to teach me through this experience?” There are many possibilities. Let us investigate some of them here.
1. To recognize our own negativity. We may need people to act negatively towards us in order to realize how much negativity we have within us. Our negativity may even be that which is causing the other to act negatively. Even if we are not expressing our negativity, the other, is subconsciously receiving it. This negativity may be in the form of emotions, beliefs, fears, expectations, behavior etc. Our own negativity on the other hand is also that which is causing us to become upset with the energies which the other is emanating. Our own jealousy and egotism may be causing us to be oversensitive to theirs. Thus the other person’s attitude and behavior becomes a stimulus, causing us to examine our self for pockets of negativity and begin working with them. Remember that feelings of guilt, self rejection, fear, weakness and of being the victim are as negative as aggressive thoughts and behavior. Think about this deeply. We create as much harm in the world by being the victim as others do in being the abuser. Every “victim” attracts the “abuser” in the other. Thus this is an opportunity to work on ourselves, bringing up to the surface our various weakness and faults, using the other as a mirror. When we are free from these, our “reflection” in the “mirror” will be more harmonious and pleasant.
2. To learn to forgive. This requires inner strength, inner security, self acceptance and inner contentment. Only people who are strong emotionally, mentally and spiritually can really forgive. Forgiveness requires much more maturity and inner strength than anger, hate, rejection or revenge. Forgiveness requires that we grow beyond our hurt and fearful egos, who try to protect themselves by rejecting, or perhaps harming, the other. Are you ready to forgive, forget and love those who have harmed you? If you are, then you are in for a pleasant surprise, because therein lies your real happiness, peace and freedom from fear, guilt and hatred. The benefit for you is actually much greater than for the person you are forgiving. The negative feelings you are holding in you are destroying your body not his, your nervous system, your endocrine system, your immunological system; not his. These negative emotions of fear, hurt, disillusionment, bitterness, resentment, anger, hate or revenge are obstructing your happiness, your peace of mind, your clarity of vision; not his. These emotions are preventing your harmonious uniting with others, your ability to open to true and honest relationships; not his. They are limiting your spiritual growth, not his. You are the victim of your own negative feelings towards the negative people in your life. You create those feelings within and you suffer from them. You can forget it all and forgive, and lift this tremendous burden off your body, mind and soul. And while we are talking about forgiveness, let us not forget to forgive ourselves, for any mistakes which we may have made in our process of evolution. Let us ask forgiveness from those who we have harmed, from God and from ourselves. God’s forgiveness has been guaranteed by Christ, as long as we sincerely have no intention of repeating the mistake. Whether the other person forgives us or not is not important, since what is important is that we are asking, and the ego has let go of its fear and pride. So we are simply left to forgive ourselves and love and accept ourselves as we are, with all our weaknesses and faults. This does not mean that we do not continually try to improve ourselves and our abilities, but in the process of self improvement, we accept ourselves at each stage. The child in the first grade does not reject himself because he cannot do what the third and forth graders can do, but neither does he have the intention to remain in the first grade. Thus we can accept ourselves as we are, while we continue to improve ourselves. In the same way we can forgive and accept others for the mistakes they have made towards us, understanding that they are in the “first grade spiritually”. We can understand simultaneously that we have a wonderful opportunity in confronting the hurt or tension which this person has stimulated in us. We can forgive him and cultivate feelings of love toward him. (Techniques are suggested for how we can forgive others in my book “Self Therapy”, in the chapters on Relaxations Techniques and on “Self Healing through attitude changes”.)
LEARNING TO BE HAPPY ANYWAY
What is it that causes us to get upset when someone criticises us, accuses us, blames us or condemns us? Why does it bother us? This may seem a foolish question to most of you. You might say in surprise, “is there any other way one could feel? Isn’t it natural, only human?” Yes, I would agree with these comments. But I also believe something else, that we are in a process of evolution, and that our behavior can gradually change. At one time all the people on the planet believed that the Earth was flat and that the sun revolved around the Earth. Today, few if any, still believe this. Forty years ago the various countries of Europe were at war with each other. Today it seems an impossibility to happen again. I like to believe that we are all evolving as persons and eventually as a society. There are some more emotionally mature individuals who do not get upset when they are subjected to such negative behavior. Take our Lord Jesus Christ. You may say that he was not a man. Well then how about Socrates, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and a wide variety of other spiritually evolved souls. Can we learn something from their example? Can we become more emotionally mature? Can we become free enough from our own fears and self doubts so that, when we are submitted to the others’ negativity, we will not be affected?
I AM WHO I AM
Who I am does not change because someone has a different opinion of me. I am who I am. I am not who the other perceives me to be. Each person sees me through his own beliefs, needs, expectations, programmings, addictions, fears, desires, and his past in general. His image of myself is distorted by all this. When something about me does not fit with his beliefs, needs, expectations, addictions, programmings, he may start shouting and blaming me. That does not necessarily mean that I have done something wrong. I may, however, have actually done something which may not have been correct, and thus I would do well to listen to what he is saying and analyze myself. If I see that he is right, I can thank him for his observation, ask his forgiveness and learn from this situation not to repeat this mistake. There is no need to condemn my self, or feel guilty or defensive towards him. On the other hand, his aggressiveness may be a result of his own fears and distorted vision, and have nothing to do with some mistake we have made. In such a case we need not get upset. The problem is his and we would best allow him to retain ownership. There is no need for argument, or rebuttals, or anger from our side. We need not protect anything, because we are not in danger. We can wait until he has calmed down and then ask him about what he feels, and what he believes, which causes him to feel that way. If he refuses to talk and wants only to shout and accuse us, then let him continue as long as he needs to. Remain calm, you are a child of God. You are OK, even if you are at fault. We all make mistakes. If we have made a mistake, we will ask forgiveness. If we have not, then we will allow the other to keep his problem, unless and until he wants to discuss it. This requires that we keep some basic truths clear in our minds:
1. Each person creates his reality from within. Other people are the actors which we use in order to give ourselves opportunities to learn lessons. The same holds in reverse. The other has chosen us to be there, in order for him to learn through his relationship with us. This does not mean that we will teach him, by giving him advice, or telling what to do. It does mean that we will allow him to be responsible for his reality. If he chooses to create anger, rejection, and separateness, we can accept that. We can try to help him by approaching him with love, by embracing him or by expressing our desire to have a closer, more loving, relationship with him. We can express our desire for him to be happy and healthy. But we cannot take responsibility for his health, happiness or success in the world. We can help him in various ways, but we can not give him health, we cannot force him to be happy. Thus we can learn to be able to be happy even when the other is not. We will be able to be happy when we realize that we have done whatever we can to help this person and yet he chooses not to be happy. This could be our lesson, to continue to be at peace with ourselves even when people we love are unhappy or even when they are blaming us for it. We can do this when we have clean conscience and a clear mind. I have seen this attachment to the other’s being happy work in exactly the opposite way. Many of us take responsibility for the reality of those around us, and cannot be happy if they are not. Then we try to pressure them into doing “what is right” what will “solve their problems”. The others resent our pressure which in reality has a “selfish motive”. We are trying to change them so that we ourselves can feel well. We cannot accept ourselves if anyone, for whom we have taken responsibility, is not well. We are playing the role of the mother, father or saviour to those around us. And then we irritate them with our constant nagging and meddling and the others do exactly the opposite of what they “should”. We are then left feeling abused and cannot understand why others do not respond to our “love” and “good intentions”. We need to have enough clarity to know when to respond to people’s call for help and when to leave them alone to grow through their struggle with life and with themselves.
2. I am not a child. I am an adult, free to function in life as I please, as long as I do not harm anyone else and do not do to anyone that which I would not like them to do to me. I do not need to live my life according to the needs and expectations and addictions of other people. I can say no and still be loved by them. I can be myself and still be loved by them. I can have differing opinions and needs and ways of life and still maintain loving relationships with them. Because someone is shouting that does not mean that he is right. He who shouts the loudest is not righter. He who shouts is unhappy. His addictions, needs, desires, programmings are not being fulfilled. There is no reason to feel like a child who needs to defend himself when I am shouted at. I am not a child. I am an immortal soul in the process of evolution. I am a child of God. I can face people, who are angry with me, with love and peace, for I have nothing to hide, nothing to protect, nothing to gain, nothing to loose. All of this requires that I free myself from the role of the child, who feels guilty or threatened every time someone shouts at him. When we were children we could not understand that many times when we were shouted at, it was not because we were not worthy or inherently evil, but because our parents had problems of their own and released their negativity on us. But we have remained with the programming that we were at fault. When someone accuses us or criticises us, we lock into the role of the child, we doubt our self worth and then need to protect ourselves. Our self worth is not diminished by a shouting person. His is. We have nothing to fear and nothing to protect. Let him shout. Understand one thing; HE IS UNHAPPY, and listen to what he is saying. When he calms down, try to comfort him and help him understand what is bothering him and why it is bothering him. Do not argue about who is right and wrong, and whose behavior is acceptable and whose is not. You may have to choose between your need to be labelled as the “right one” and your need to have a harmonious relationship especially if the other has the same need. Isn’t it all very silly? We are wearing these huge adult bodies but we have the emotional maturity of small children. Perhaps even less so because children forget and forgive quickly.
RESPECT AND SELF-RESPECT
People tend to not respect us in three situations. One is when we do not respect our selves and thus do not inspire them to respect us. Another is when we do not respect them and thus they mirror our behavior towards them. A third is when we fear their not respecting us. Thus one way of helping to prevent negativity from others is to simultaneously cultivate respect for them and for ourselves. This means that we give them the message overtly and with our attitude and actions that we have no intention of harming or demeaning them, and that we also do not expect such behavior from them. This means that we are not afraid of confronting them about their behavior. This means that we are not ready to allow them to get what they want simply because they shout, or cry, or intimidate us with various warnings. We are ready to listen to their needs and help them fulfill their needs, but not to be abused by demeaning behavior.
STRENGTH AND LOVE
We will need a combination of strength and love. Strength to help them respect us and love to help them to feel secure and cared for. In this type of “responsible love” we express and employ our love but allow each of us to maintain responsibility for our own realities. We cannot create happiness or security or health for the other. We can help the other, love and offer various services, but we cannot be responsible for the internal realities which he creates in his life. This means that there will be times when we will have to see the other suffer and not worry and not rush in to take responsibility for solving his problem. If we do, we will bee doing him great harm, and in some cases he may eventually hate us for having removed his self esteem, rather than thank us for solving his problem. His problem may not have been what we thought. His problem may be that he does not have the self confidence to take responsibility for his life. We do not help him to take responsibility for his life when we solve his problems. We often lower his self confidence even more. We wonder, then, why this person responds negatively towards us and does not express to us the love and gratitude which we deserve, with all the sacrifices we are making.
SOUL OR PERSONALITY
It will be helpful in such cases to be able to discriminate between the immortal soul, which is living in that body, and the personality, which is temporarily confused or lacking inner strength. Each individual is an immortal powerful spiritual being who has the ability to face the various difficulties and tests of life. We would do best to have faith in the other’s power, intelligence and ability to face life and take responsibility for his health, success and happiness. This attitude may sometimes seem to conflict with our previous concepts about what love means. But in the end you will find that, from a spiritual point of view, this is love for the soul, rather than an attachment to the personality. Our stance then can be, “I love you. I want you to be happy. I am willing to do whatever is in my power to help you and support you in your life; but I cannot take responsibility for whether you are happy or not. Nor am I willing to accept the blame for your dissatisfaction, nor am I willing to accept abusive behavior from you. I am willing to discuss and develop a deep relationship of love and mutual support, but with respect and responsibility, from both sides”.
CONFRONTATION DOES NOT MEAN CONFLICT
The above mentioned attitude may occasionally bring about confrontation. But that does not have to mean conflict. Unfortunately we have learned to confuse these two words and situations. We will need to learn that we do not help our selves, or other by not confronting the differences or problems which exist between us. When we have eventually learned effective communication techniques and have learned to take responsibility for our reality and allow the other to do the same for himself, then we can confront our differences in needs, values, beliefs or opinions without coming in conflict. We can learn to act with maturity. This means that we will have to overcome the fear of confrontation, the fear of rejection, or disapproval, and the fear of being hurt or losing in a conflict. It means that we will have to have faith in the other and in ourselves. We will have faith that the relationship can work if it is allowed to be honest. Thus coping with the negative behavior of those around us depends on a delicate, and often difficult balance of loving compassion and spiritual detachment and clarity.
CONTINUE YOUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH
You will remember that we are affected by the other’s negativity to the degree that we still have fear or negativity within us. Thus, from the spiritual point of view, we need the others as a testing mechanism which helps us to determine whether or not we have overcome that particular fear or negativity within ourselves. After we have tried every other solution and we still have not found peace of mind, we are eventually forced to grow spiritually in order to overcome our own fears and negativities, so that we will be not affected by the others. Then the others will change as we do not need the test anymore. How can we do this? By developing inner security, inner contentment, self confidence, self acceptance and inner strength. In this way our security, self worth and sense of fulfillment will not depend on how the other is, or what he does, or does not do. We can then react to him out of real love and not out of our need for him to be the way we want him to be physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually.
OUR CHANGE IS OUR GREATEST OFFERING
Our inner transformation is the greatest gift that we can offer to those around us. Some may not like this gift at first, because they may be locked into various ego games which they have been playing with us until now. As we change and stop playing those games, they may become fearful, defensive and even aggressive. This is natural and is another test for us and our inner security. If we are able to remain firm in our decision to improve ourselves, the other will gradually relax and accept, and even enjoy, our transformation and this will be an excellent stimulus for his growth. I have seen this happen so many times over the last years. One member of the family starts making changes in his life. The other family members react out of fear and become perhaps aggressive or rejecting. After some time (could be months, could be years), the others begin to see the logic and beauty of a life based on these simple spiritual truths and techniques for physical, emotional and mental harmony. It is wonderful when we can share the path of growth with our loved ones, but pushing them into it and giving them sermons is the surest way to delay or prevent forever this possibility. Let your changes be mostly internal. Do not try to make the others follow your own steps. Do not talk to them about what you are doing, unless they ask and are really interested. You will save yourself a lot of problems in this way. When they see your changes, your improvement, your inner peace, your understanding, your inner strength, your unconditional love for them, then they will get the message very quickly, much more quickly than with thousands of words and hundreds of articles or books.
LOVE AND ACCEPT YOUR SELF AND OTHERS
Unconditional love and acceptance for yourself and others is the best solution for any type of negativity which you may encounter. It is difficult for negativity to maintain its existence in the face of real love (not love with fear, or love out of attachment or need – but real love without need), when we love the other and can maintain that feeling of love, even when he is criticising us or rejecting us. That love will quickly heal that pain, or fear, which is causing him to act in this way. It will be much easier to keep on loving the other if we have developed unconditional love for ourselves. We usually are affected by the other’s negativity because it undermines our feelings of self worth. When our sense of self worth is based on an inner relationship of love and understanding with ourselves, and cannot be disturbed by the other’s negativity, then we can continue loving him, despite his behavior, because it is not threatening us anymore. We are threatened by the other’s negativity to the degree that we have not overcome our self doubt. When we no longer doubt ourselves, we will be free from fear concerning his reaction to us. This does not mean that we believe that we are perfect and have no faults. It means that we can accept that we have faults, and that we are in a process of discovering them, and gradually overcoming them. It means that we have the right to love ourselves during that process, even though we are not perfect. This means that we can listen to other’s criticism without fearing, because we can only gain by hearing his perception. He may be right, and thus we can see ourselves more objectively and grow more quickly. Or, what he says may not be true, but only his own subjective distortion of reality; in which case, there is no reason to doubt ourselves. In both cases I can remain calm, understanding and loving. All this depends on my ability to love and accept myself in all situations regardless of the other’s behavior, or opinions.
YOU ARE NOT THE TARGET
It will help to remember that, in most cases, you are not the target of the other’s negativity. The other does not really want to hurt us. He has some inner problem. He is unhappy about something. He cannot handle the way he feels inside and wants to get rid of his negative energy. What is the most simple and usual solution? Blame those, who are closest to us, for our unhappiness. Thus he will find any excuse to throw his negativity at you. It is not meant for you. He does not hate you. He does not want to hurt you. He just wants to get rid of this “hot potato” he is holding, which is burning him emotionally, or mentally, or perhaps even physically. Now you can play the “hot potato” game by throwing it back at him or at the children, or someone else. Then they will in turn throw it back at you or at someone else. In this way the potato moves around, getting hotter and hotter, creating a lot of unhappiness and a lot of misunderstanding for a lot of people (some of which may take many years or even lifetimes to be corrected and healed). Or you can do something else. You can realize that you are not the target. You can keep the potato, let it cool and eat it, digest it, take the energy which it can offer you and discharge it. You can learn to work effectively with emotions and with active listening and I-statements, open and honest communication, without suppression and without aggressiveness. This can cool the potato for everyone and they can all enjoy eating it and enjoying it and laughing about it. You can do this by being conscious and not mechanical. By remembering that whenever anyone acts towards you in a negative way, that “he is not happy”. Remembering this you will not need to be hurt by what he is saying or doing, or not doing. You can be more interested in helping him to feel better – not by the suppression of your own feelings or needs, that only by simply being understanding and respecting his problem at this moment. We all have negative moments in which we need to discharge negativity.
AVOID CHILD-PARENT ROLES
Many problems are created when we function through the roles of the child or parent. These roles are rooted in some basic misconceptions which create many negative feelings such as disappointment, hurt, fear, anger, injustice, revenge, antagonism and even hate, between people who, actually, deep inside love each other. The basic misconception which creates most problems in these relationships is that one person can create, or can be responsible, for the reality of another. The parent believes that he is responsible for the health, success, happiness or state of the child. He believes that the child is unable to take on these responsibilities. The parents believes that he is successful in that role if the child is “successful”. On the reverse side, the parent feels that the child is to blame for his unhappiness when he does not cooperate with the parent’s needs. The parent needs the child to be successful, in order to feel successful, relaxed or at peace in the role of the parent. Thus he believes that the child is creating his unhappy reality. The child accepts this reasoning and works under these subconscious beliefs, that the others are responsible for creating his own reality (regardless as to whether the child is 5 or 55) and that he “needs” the others, and that they are to blame for his inability to create the life he wants. He feels repressed and limited but he cannot break free and create his own reality, because he believes that the others must do that for him. This sometimes works in reverse, especially as the child grows up. He is made to believe that he is responsible for the reality which his parents experience and thus made to feel guilt that they are not happy with his life, or his choices, or accomplishments. This chains him to the wheel of seeking success in the eyes of others, often never receiving the reward of “Bravo , well done my child, I accept you, you are OK in my eyes”. In such a case he will put various persons in the role of his parent (lovers, spouse, employers, friends) and seek recognition from them. He will feel that all these others are responsible for his unhappiness. They are not giving him what he needs – self recognition. This however, is something which only he can give to himself. If he doesn’t free himself from the role of child, he will never be at peace and he will always be at the mercy of what others think about him. He will waste tremendous quantities of energy and time trying to get the others’ approval. He may however, react in the opposite way. He may rebel, often with self destructive habits. “So you want success from me, in order to accept me. I’ll show you. I will never succeed. I will undermine every success, even my own health”. And thus the parents’ conditional love forces the child exactly into the behavior which they feared. Again the child is not taking responsibility for creating his own reality but is creating a reality in reaction to the expectations of his parents, or boss, or spouse or society. We can see that these roles, when they continue beyond adolescence, are destructive for both the child and the parent. We must see these roles in a more expanded sense here. We play these roles and their corresponding games with spouses, friends, employers, teachers, spiritual teachers etc.
NO ONE ELSE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR REALITY
We are creating our reality through our past and present beliefs, thoughts, words and actions. No one else is creating how we feel. We are creating our emotions through the way that we see ourselves and the world around us. Although others may have been the means for instilling these beliefs in us as children, only we can free ourselves from their grip. Blaming the others for our childhood or for what they are doing now will not set us free. Observing our emotional reactions and analysing the beliefs and mechanisms which are at their roots, WILL set us free. No one else can make us happy. No one else is responsible for our unhappiness or our health. That is important to remember.
WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE OTHERS’ REALITY
In the same way we cannot create health or happiness for others. We are responsible for TRYING to help them to be healthy or happy, but we cannot MAKE them happy, if they don’t want to be, or if their life situation does not allow them to be at this moment. We are not responsible for their unhappiness. We can and must help, but we cannot take responsibility for the results. Those depend on the fate they have brought into this life and their own desires and efforts. When we understand this, they will finally be able to take responsibility for their reality and proceed. We will not obstruct them any more by projecting the thought (verbally or subconsciously) that we are responsible for their happiness, and not they. These thoughts run counter to a lot that we have of the programming we have received from society about the roles of parents and children. It may be difficult to free our selves from them. But it is possible; I have seen many do so. I have seen wonderful results for all concerned, when they did so. I have seen parents inevitably give up trying to solve their children’s problems, and thus quickly and miraculously the child (stopped being a child) and solved his own problems. We keep people in their problems by taking responsibility for solving them for them. We undermine their own sense of power.
ADULT TO ADULT or SOUL TO SOUL
Thus we can gain much by getting free from the roles which are based on the illusion that we are these physical bodies. We are all immortal souls. We have lived thousands of lives (if you can believe that). This is not the first time any of us has faced the problems of physical or emotional existence. We and all the others are capable of facing life. We are all powerful spirits which have temporarily lost the awareness of our greatness. We are certainly able to face and overcome the difficulties of life, and so are our loved ones. Let us see others as brother and sister souls enrolled in the same school of life. There are no children, no parents, no age, no sexes, no nationalities or religions. There are billions of immortal souls taking on various roles in each life continuing their evolutionary process. When I can see myself and those around me in this way, it will be much easier to handle any negativity which I encounter, because I will realize that this soul is learning something from that which he is encountering and that I too am to learn something here. Thus rather than wasting time trying to find out and announce who is right and who is wrong, I will spend my energy trying to find out what I need to learn here. Then life will become a beautiful university which leads each limited individual into a universal being.
KEEP A HIGH LEVEL OF ENERGY
When our energy is low, when we do not feel well, when we are tired, worn out, needing rest or sleep, we do not have a high tolerance level. We loose our aura of resistance, of understanding. We loose our ability to handle stressful situations or the negativity of people in our environment. When our energy is high and we are feeling well, physically and thus also mentally, the same events or negative stimuli have much less, if any, affect on us. A high level of energy is an invaluable asset in confronting a negative world with negative people. When our energy is high we are automatically surrounded by a protective aura of energy which deflects much of what is going on. We are not insensitive, but we simply do not feel threatened by what is going on, because we feel that we have enough energy, enough resources, enough inner strength to handle whatever is happening. Thus we would all do very well to employ various techniques and ways of life which protect and boost our energy level such as:
1. A healthy diet based on whole grains, beans, nuts and fresh vegetables and fruits as well as dairy products.
2. Occasional purification of the body’s organs (for more effective functioning) by fasting on liquids 24 hours each week.
3. Daily exercises for at least 20 minutes.
4. Breathing exercises daily for about 10 minutes.
5. Deep relaxation techniques with positive thought projection daily.
6. Enough sleep, preferably broken up into two shorter sleep sessions rather than one long one.
7. Many other activities will also help, such as meditation, prayer, creative activities such as singing, dancing, painting, gardening, selfless service work etc.
When we suggest such a program to people, their first response is, “how will I find time for all that?”. This does not take as much time as one may think. A beginner would spend about 40 minutes to an hour a day. If he does not feel that he can dedicate so much tome, let him start out with 15 to 30 minutes doing just relaxation techniques or physical exercises and gradually add the rest. Another factor to consider is that energy equals time. How much time do we loose because we need to rest, because we make mistakes, because we simply cannot function effectively at this moment and simply want to space out in front of the TV or sit and do nothing?”. Having more energy gives us much more “time” in the form of clarity and effectiveness and endurance. We never lose time in caring for our energy system. We gain time. You will have to try it to believe it. It may take a few months, however, to experience the results clearly.
DISCRIMINATE BETWEEN THE OTHER AND HIS BEHAVIOR
When we are annoyed by other people’s negativity we often tend to reject them and have in general negative feelings towards them. This leads to a deeper and deeper misunderstanding between us. It may take years or even centuries to remedy this situation between us. This is not necessary. A simple solution is to make a clarification in our mind between the person and his behavior. The person is an immortal soul in the process of evolution. The fact that he is in a process of evolution means that he is obviously not perfect (even if he believes he is or claims to be). Thus it is illogical to expect him to be perfect and to not make behavioural mistakes. Only an enlightened master will not make behavioural mistakes. But even he may do things which are offensive to our programmings, expectations and fears, since we are not yet enlightened. Thus we must also make the discrimination between what the other does, and how we feel about it. We interpret what the other does through our subjective programming, expectation, fears, beliefs, desires and needs. They distort to a great extent what is actually happening, they distort our mental perceptions of others and their motives. We see danger where there is not. In many cases we misinterpret what other people are trying to do. You cannot conceive the extent to which we do this. I never would have believed it, if my work didn’t force me to see it. How often I have seen people make the most illogical assumptions as to why others are doing what they are doing. They tend to believe that the other is trying purposely to harm them. But the simple truth is that the other is simply trying to satisfy his needs, or fulfill a role programming, and has no desire whatsoever to harm us. He is not free to act differently and is often very unhappy that we are taking this personally and harming ourselves through his actions. If we can see the other as a soul in the process of evolution, we will be able to accept that his actions can not yet be perfect. He does not yet have inner security, inner peace, inner fulfilment, self confidence, self acceptance, and thus he will obviously be driven toward self centered activities which may annoy us. If we can separate this person from the activity and say to ourselves and to them, “I love and accept you as a person but this particular behavior makes me feel unhappy, insecure, angry or whatever”, then we will be able to keep a loving contact with the other without suppressing our needs or his. We can let him know, with an I-message, that his action is functioning as a stimulus for our programming, which is creating unhappiness or suffering for us. We can ask him to try as much as he can to modify this behavior. We can listen to him and ourselves to understand the basic need or belief which is motivating his behavior. We can continue to love him and accept him even though he is unable at this time to make that change. One factor which often discourages us from communicating with the other in such situations is when they take the stance, “I am perfect. I have nothing to change. You are the one at fault. The problem is yours”. We must realize that this too is a form of defensive behavior, which must be separated from the person and understood. He is not feeling secure, happy, satisfied. He is not sure of himself and thus must wear the mask of the “perfect one” or the “aggressive one” so that others will avoid putting him in the unpleasant situation of seeing himself. If you have close contact with such a person, it means that you have something to learn from him. One lesson is to love and accept him and be patient and understanding, waiting for the proper moment, when he feels relaxed and secure, to communicate. Another is to love and accept him, but to be more assertive and less yielding, so that he is forced to find another way of communicating. In some rare cases it is to accept and love him, but to leave him so that he can face himself, and wake up from the sleep he is in. In each case, the key is to continue to operate out of a feeling of love and acceptance for who he can be at this moment, independent of what further steps we may decide to make. Discrimination between him as a being and his actions will help.
REALIZE YOUR OWN FAULTS
This was one of Christ’s main messages. Do not condemn. Look at your own faults. Do not be bothered with the other’s. Forgive them for whatever they have done. Forgive and you shall be forgiven. Realizing our own faults helps us have greater understanding for the others’ faults. This is especially true if we have gone through a process of self analysis and have discovered the beliefs and programmings which cause us to be negative. Anyone who has done such work on himself has realized that he becomes negative inwardly and outwardly basically when he fears, when he feels insecure, and when he doubts his self worth. Thus when he encounters this negative behavior in others, he remembers his own personal experience and is able to be more understanding, knowing that the other is not feeling secure, that he is acting out of ignorance at this moment. Understanding ourselves is the first step towards understanding others. Accepting ourselves with our own faults, is the first step towards accepting others with theirs. Our happiness depends very much on the quality of our relationships with those around us. It is a shame to be less happy simply because we are too lazy to work on these relationships. We have everything to gain, including much self knowledge, spiritual evolution and, of course, a loving and joyful life.