Monday, 20 July 2015

A Short Course In Mindfulness - 4 - Why We Reject The Negative

I'm assuming by the lack of commentary on this series of blog posts that you either agree with everything or you're not the slightest bit interested. I know you're reading it.

The only criticism I've had was that "No matter how much I try to ignore the fact that my boss is a jerk, he's still a jerk, I still have to work with him. How does acknowledging my feelings work there? Reject the negative? I can't ignore him!"

It's true. An arsehole remains an arsehole even if you somehow manage to deny that he is. This is why women stay with abusive men. Denying the real fact that a person behaves badly causes more harm than good. So there's the acknowledgement. But negative behaviour of others is not something we have any control over.

Look at the objective here - mindfulness. Read it as awareness if that helps. Nobody says that awareness solves all problems. It's just a starting point for action.

But yes, mindfulness can lead you to not having a jerk for a boss. How? It shakes you up into realizing that it's time to get a new boss.

Ah, but you say, that's just giving somebody else the problem instead, and you'd be right. True change comes when everybody is mindful, and being a jerk won't work for bosses (they won't have any staff) but we have to start somewhere.

While it's not your fault that your boss is a jerk, and it's not your responsibility to change him, even if you could, it is your responsibility as a mindful human being to assert that being a jerk is not OK. Therefore do not enable him by continuing to work for him.

One of the first things we learn when we really pay attention to reality is that we can't change how other people behave. It is the biggest mistake we ever make, thinking that we can. We can try to persuade them, we can criticize, nag, demand, beg, or threaten. But people's behaviour is based on how they think, and we cannot change that.

Every behaviour has a thought process behind it, even it is a flawed thought process. So, the best thing we can do when somebody is being a jerk is to consider why. There's always a reason. Some people are so lacking in mindfulness that they are jerks simply out of habit.

Why should we care what the reason is for their behaviour?

First of all, if it's someone  you aren't close to, and whose normal behaviour is unknown to you, they may just be having a bad day. How you react to their bad behaviour can make all the difference. And even if it's a regular jerk, giving thought to the reason behind it (even if you don't know what that is) can allow your reaction to be gentler, rather than fighting fire with fire. The most powerful reaction is always the positive reaction - patient, calm, polite, kind. You can stop them in their tracks by responding positively, or as they say "kill 'em with kindness".

But also, every jerk you run into is a lesson in how not to behave. Tit for tat, giving them a taste of their own medicine etc, is usually counter productive, and it does you no good at all. If you analyze instead of "fight" it helps your own growth journey. Remember, we change the world by changing ourselves.

Everything I've said here, you've heard before, possibly even from me. I teach this stuff a lot. If, today, you reject this advice, it doesn't matter, there will be a better teacher or a better time eventually. But of all the things I have learned about human interaction in my half century, and all the things I teach to pay back the gift of learning, these three simple truths, which go together, are the key to all relationships.

1. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
2. If you accept people as they are, rather than how you want them to be, you'll both be happier.
3. You can never control a person's behaviour; only your reaction to it.

If you seek personal growth, you need to remind yourself of those 3 every single day.

The objective, is for YOU to not be the jerk, after all.

1 comment:

  1. One additional aspect to consider when it comes to the negative (aside from possibly trying to ignore it) would be to perform an honest assessment of our reaction, and maybe figure out how much of that negativity is present in our own way. Quite like if you are an alcoholic and want to change, one of the personal steps might be to mindfully choose to not visit the local bar, or hang with friends so much after work. Some of the negativity we encounter is circumstantial and changeable, and that is also true with the negativity and anxiety/ suffering we may encounter on any given day--all because it's something we get used to doing. This also refers to the video you and Richard shared yesterday, about stupid people being too stupid to know they are stupid (for lack of a better term). We keep on doing convenient things until we get "sick and tired" enough to change. ~ Blessings! :)