Yes yes yes we all wish we could be in the Matrix movie and just sit in a dentist’s chair, have someone plug us into the mainframe and bam we can fly a Sikorsky, speak Mandarin and Cantonese, and know fifty ways to turn a sock heel (it’s a knitting thing). But no. Meanwhile, back in reality, you’ve got to get to work. I kind of lied about the “now” part in the title, but you’re reading now so just keep going.
Beating negativity is just like stamina or muscle building. In the stamina analogy, first you can run a kilometer, then you get to run further and further till at last you can run a marathon. Then you can be like my friend Charles’ wife and run a blessed marathon EVERY DAY then go to the gym, then do a yoga class. Other people have jobs. Still, she’s fit, and well that’s great. So it is with negativity, you start small then work up. Make resolutions to yourself, ones you know you can keep, such as:
- I will no longer criticise the way my hair looks. I will only make positive affirmations about my hair. F it. It’s just hair.
- I will no longer get angry when the train is crowded. There is a train that gets me to where I need to go. That’s enough.
- I will not respond to that bitchy e-mail / text / facebook post. Just walk away. Ignore ignore ignore. I am better than that.
- Also the thing with Charles’ wife. I will try my hardest not to be scathing about other people’s fitness obsessions.
And you build on that list, and just keep building. Eventually it’s second nature, and the effect snowballs. How long does it take? We are not thinking about results here people, we are thinking about textures, processes, that kind of ongoing thing. Acknowledge your progress, there’s no need to measure it.
Another analogy is weight-lifting. At first it’s just a few kilos, but you build up to being able to lift a house. Or something.
If you set yourself a big fat task like: “I will beat negativity now and I will never be negative again,” of course that’s never going to work. You will feel negative inevitably then feel crap because you failed and you will be back to square one. Just go one step at a time, be patient and kind with yourself. Hating yourself for failing to beat negativity is a great way to bite your own tail.
Reality is a mirror. What you see around you is a reflection of what you have inside. People’s actions and motivations reflect your own. Jung said that if someone bugs you it’s because it’s either an aspect of yourself you hate, or an aspect of yourself you wish you had. But you can’t change everything just like that, although you can change, of course! In the words of the Buddha to the bandit Anguli Mala: “What makes you think you’re so special? If everyone else can change, so can you.”
Of course, there are turd-like scenarios which you can dress up with sprinkles and hundreds and thousands but if it’s a turd, it will always just stay a turd, just with hundreds and thousands on it. It will always be just poopy and needs to be changed fundamentally. Progressively lowering your negativity, like an Olympic athlete in training, and ignoring annoying people and situations as much as you can, leads you to knowing which situations you have to change, and which ones are fine it’s just you that needs an attitude shift. Things become clearer, and the way to do change situations that don’t serve you becomes clearer.
Going back to the mirror analogy, if you want to live in a world at peace, and experience peace, loving kindness, respect and trust in your universe, you have to see yourself as fundamentally that. In the 70s people talked about Mantras, nowadays we talk about affirmations. Of course, meditation helps a lot.
If you are wondering how this relates to people who are living with war, or extreme civil or personal disruption, apply this: Be the change you wish to see in the world: think personal, act universal. Or, in the words of Fu Doo Oo Myoo Sama: “Don’t question why people suffer. Only help.”