Some of you found and chose some really good examples for yesterday’s meditation. When you’re with a driver who gets angry when they’re cut off, you can accomplish a lot just by calmly noting that you often wonder if those drivers are possibly having a very bizarre kind of day.
Learning you’re pregnant or that you have cancer or that someone has just died is clearly shocking. It’s such a reasonable explanation for a minor driving mistake that it will eventually worm its way in, even if they are unlikely to calm down immediately on that first occasion. The best part is, being cut off happens often enough that it’ll give the person plenty of practice calming down.
Isn’t it funny how now being cut off feels better now; less like an offence and more like a psychological exercise? When you learn to get calmer through your experiences in calming, that signals to you that it’s possible to see the world from a growth-conscious perspective. That means you live inside a mental gym every single day. Life is either you improving or you’re relaxing. Isn’t that great? You win either way.
Yesterday you helped someone else interject a thought into their loop about some subject. Some of you humanised bosses, some helped a child see their parent more reasonably, some of you helped a sibling take a different perspective on one of your parents. Well if those things were good for them then we can expect that the same exercise will be good for you.
You don’t need to be taught how to get along with people you define as warm, funny, supportive or friendly, you need help with the ones that are negative, sarcastic, spiteful or difficult. So who’s your workout partner then? Because this is an inevitable step in your growth. If you conquer staying in a good state of mind with this person then you can do it with any person like them.
There are people that love the very same people that you find difficult. Likewise, some people fight a lot with your closest friends. The problem clearly isn’t the people then, it’s the perspective. We assume our perspective is the truth. It is, but only to us. And only for as long as we believe it. Santa Claus was real until someone told you otherwise. The people you dislike are Santa Claus. It’s time to take their costume off and see who’s underneath.
Pick your vexatious person. It might be helpful for you to choose someone with a bad habit or behaviour you find irritating. Do not pick the person you’re in the midst of a divorce or something intense with. Start with the lighter weights and work your way up.
I know your ego-reality causes you to believe that it’s the truth that they’re irritating, and I know you can find people whose reality is near enough to yours that they will confirm your illusion as real, but again; that vexatious person has best friends. The reason you find them irritating is that you think irritated thoughts when you listen to them, while that other person hears great value in what they say.
Your job today is: choose that person and then pick that quality that sets you off. Why do their friends like them? Meditate on that. Not only while you’re with them, while you’re not as well. Talk to your meditation partner about each other’s choices. Rather than do like yesterday and interject a new idea into someone else’s thought-stream, create a compassionate thought and apply it to your own thought-stream.
Don’t expect yourself to accept this immediately. Even if you build a great intervening thought to add to your reality mix, you’ll still often follow it immediately with a “Yeah but…” after which you’ll switch back to your common reaction. But that’s fine. This is a practice because it’s a process. You need to do this repeatedly to be good at it. But again, do it here and you can apply that ability with anyone who behaves in the same way.
Define the person and the quality they have that irritates you. Every time you see them for the next two weeks your job is to kick into your meditation the moment they trigger it with the behaviour. You can even steel yourself for it before you get there.
Within two weeks you want to be left feeling significantly less bothered. In the meantime your job is to lift the weight of that thought until it’s effortless. Because it is that ability that defines the capacity of our spiritual and psychological strength.
Have a wonderful day everyone.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.