MoK: Absorbing Shots

Today for the March of Kindness we’ll focus on negativity. Negativity itself is not a problem, it is a critical aspect of life. You truly cannot have up without down, nor happy without sad, so we don’t want negativity to completely disappear, but we also don’t want to entertain it for longer than is necessary.

Negative things are really nothing more than signals. Your freedom lies in how you respond to the negativity in others, and when doing this it might be best to think of something like tennis or ping pong as a metaphor.

If people express their negativity toward you it can be responded to in one of two ways. If you choose to meet the negativity in a hard, reflective way, that is like hitting a shot back. Someone insults you, so you insult them back. By meeting their shot with a shot of your own, you join them in the exchange of negativity. This will continue until one of the egos involved feels it has “won.”

If the person is responding to previous points they feel you (or people like you) have scored against them, they will keep hitting negative serves to you until they feel they’ve scored an equal the number of points. This is actually a healthy process that keeps relationships internally balanced so that resentments do not build.

The only way to shorten a game of negativity is to not hit a shot back. If you intentionally miss a shot fired at you, or if you strike it back weakly, this means the person has won their point and has less of a reason to continue throwing more negativity your direction. Again, once they feel they have won that game it will naturally end.

So how do we absorb a shot? It’s really quite easy: instead of responding with a hard argument back, we can instead offer the softness of kindness. But what does this look like in practice?

Say we’re in a class at school and someone tries to bring us down with a negative comment, we can simply respond with a compliment back. So rather than participating in the game of negativity exchange, you can toss the ball back with no intention of scoring a counterpoint. Eventually the person gets tired of you not playing and they stop serving to you.

In an office, if someone is being negative about something, you can choose to kindly find a way to agree with them rather than argue back. It can feel very counter-intuitive to not offer your best argument in return, but you can do that if you remember that real winning is when you dissolve the disagreement rather than beat another person.

Today in the March of Kindness our jobs are easy. We each make the world a lot better by finding at least three chances for us to offer kindness were you could easily offer disagreement. All you’re trying to do is find people who want to have a game of negativity but then you let them win. They challenge you for a seat on the bus and you offer it to them. They want that parking stall, it’s theirs. They want to dislike you or your friends, let them. Easy.

Do you see how generous that is? You’re offering to lose. That is so kind. That is what we do for very little kids. We understand they’re growing, so we let them beat us in games by intentionally avoiding our own best game. In those cases we’re more interested in the development of the person than we are in personally winning. We just forget that once we’re adults, but the effect is exactly the same.

Participate in the March of Kindness. Make someone else feel like a winner and you will have made the world a better place. Because there are no losers with kindness.

peace. s

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.

The New Ism

910 Relax and Succeed - Out beyond ideasA lot of people have a lot of ideas about how other people could be making the world better. One of the keys ways to improve it would be to simply get rid of all of those other people. The real trick is how you go about making them go away.

There are a lot of people who would strongly disapprove of racism or sexism or ageism that would very publicly and aggressively practice what I would call prioritism. These differences arise when people do not share priorities, as is the case when some people value natural resource jobs and others prioritize the environment, with most people ultimately being in a fluctuating bell curve in the middle.

Protecting community assets is what government and regulation were built for. So there is no need for hatred or fights, people are better to focus their energy on the systems that exist and use those to change regulations (or even governments) if they have concerns. There literally is no problem if you’re busy working on a solution that just doesn’t exist in time yet, but holding angry or worried feelings in our hearts is not good for us any more than if we were hating a race or religion. It’s our heart that carries the hate.

910 Relax and Succeed - When you talk you areToo many people are seeing the world in a very simplistic, binary way because the media presents it to us in short soundbites and then only discusses those as though they represent all of the actual interpretations. Their very job is to create conflict where there isn’t any, so we cannot use the media as a basis for us to experience outrage on a personal basis. That’s an expensive and toxic emotion to experience so it should only be undertaken when there is an upside to the person paying the price.

Opening our minds means we must avoid slotting people into categories. Not because you can’t use other categories to defend your categories, but because categories only exist in the ego-world. You want to start connecting with people in that other world–that uncategorized, undefined open space where all people are equal and there is no separation between the individual members of a group or even between them and the thing being done. This is what any good band will do when they’re feeling on. They’re connected.

If you find a lot of they, them, me, you, and I in your speech or self-talk then you know you’re not connected and you’re invested in binary thinking. People need to be defined for those temrs to make sense, but what’s best is to forget the definition of the person and focus respectfully on their statement, action or creation. Drop me and them thinking. Just deal with the issue. It’s a good place to be clinical. Let your motivations to work on the solution be emotional, but let the work itself be as rational as it is positive.

910 Relax and Succeed - Raise your wordsThere are a lot of beautiful, very well-intentioned people who invest enormous amounts of time in very negative and combative approaches, all in an attempt to force solutions on the world. Since that naturally creates resistance, just diverting that energy to more positive approaches will absolutely be felt by all of us. Do not invest in fighting. Look for opportunities to build bridges and create greater understanding. That is your route to a  better world.

Positive actions will lead to a positive situations. Take your opportunities to remove energy from negative thinking and turn it instead into positive action. Both you and the world will be better for it. So go make friends with someone on the other side and get them to teach you about why they’re on that other side. It will do you both more good to talk than to shout.

Enjoy your day.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.