In an ideal world everyone is kind to one another. Everyone treats one another with the utmost love and respect. But ours is not an ideal world. Ours is a world teaming with people who are rude, angry, critical, and downright mean. And oftentimes, such negativity comes unwarranted and unprovoked, and it catches us off guard. It can ruin a good day. It can ruin a relationship. It can even seem to ruin one’s life.
But it doesn’t have to ruin anything. The truth is we have a choice in how we respond to this kind of negativity. It’s just that many of us don’t know it. And we don’t know it because we don’t really take the time to understand what’s actually going on.
Whether we realize it or not, each of us is a conduit of energy. We transmit that energy out into the world through our thoughts, our words and our behavior. But we’re not just transmitters. We’re also receptors. And this means that while others are broadcasting their energy we are open to receiving it, depending upon our own vibrational frequency, of course. The thing is, most of us don’t really take notice of any of this. We don’t really know that it’s happening. We don’t realize how vulnerable we are to tuning in to other people’s negative energy, and taking it on as our own.
We tend to think that when we become upset with someone who is rude to us, it’s entirely their fault, that they made us feel this way. And it’s just this kind of thinking that makes us susceptible to negative energy in the first place. Because what we are saying is that we have no control over our emotions. We have no responsibility. Whatever we feel is because of someone else. Our emotional switches are in their hands, for them to manipulate. And as long as we believe this, we will always be at their mercy.
The truth is that no one else has any control whatsoever regarding our emotional state. To think otherwise is purely an illusion. Ultimately, no one can make you feel upset. No one can make you angry or sad. And on the flipside, no one can make you feel happy either. What appears to be others manipulating our emotional strings is actually an internal response. The thing is, we have within us a sort of emotional response mechanism that is set to automatic. And so we don’t take time to understand how the mechanism works. And because we don’t comprehend how it works, we don’t realize that we have all the power and authority to control it.
When someone is mean to us we react so quickly, so impulsively, that we aren’t even aware of the complex process that is taking place within us. We tend to observe emotions only at the surface level. But underneath, and often deep within the subconscious mind, there is a chain of events that determine how we respond. If we’re unaware of this process, and if we have our emotional reactor set to automatic, then it seems as though the other person is in complete control. It seems that they are the one with all the power to affect our mood, to makes us feel happy or sad.
When someone comes at us with negative energy, speaking some harsh words, we immediately react by becoming upset. We might feel offended or angry. We might feel sad. We might even retaliate with harsh words of our own. And this takes place so quickly that we aren’t even aware of what is actually happening. In a flash we can go from being in a very good mood to feeling utterly miserable.
But as I have said, this is an internal process, and in order to take control of your own emotions, you have to take time to examine how the process works. So let’s break it down and examine it.
Suppose you’re just going about your day when seemingly out of nowhere someone says something that causes your mood to shift from positive to negative. It can begin with just a simple word that our mind begins to process and interpret. Our mind takes the word down into the basement and checks it against our internal belief system. And if there is some corresponding belief that we have about ourselves, our mind will pull that file and open it.
Let’s just be a little more specific and suppose that someone has just called us an idiot. Our emotional auditor then takes the word “idiot” and checks it against existing files. It finds a matching file which contains all the records, all the memories, of all the times in our life that someone belittled our intelligence, as well as every time we’ve ever made a mistake. Now it’s likely that whenever someone has told us that we’re stupid or that we can’t do anything right, they’ve spoken these words in a harsh tone which implied that something was wrong with us, that we are somehow less likeable, and perhaps even unloveable. And the feeling of being unloveable equates to having little worth.
Now, our emotional auditor then takes this feeling of unworthiness and brings it up to the surface where it overshadows our previous mood. Suddenly, whatever joy we may have been feeling vanishes and we are left with a sense of shame. Our emotional state has now become disturbed. We are upset. But because this process takes place so quickly, much of it occurring at the subconscious level of the mind, we are often completely unaware of it. Because we don’t understand the process, but are only aware of what is taking place on the surface, we are convinced that the other person has disturbed our equilibrium. As far as we can see, they have attacked us with their words. They have caused us injury. They are responsible for making us feel upset. And so we blame them. And in some cases, we may even become defensive and lash out at them. But the reality is that we have a choice in how we respond, or whether we respond at all.
There’s a story about a monk who was passing through a village, when one of the villagers began berating him.
“Look at you in your robes! You think you’re some kind of holy person. You’re nothing but a man like the rest of us. You’re just a fake!”
And on he went like this while the monk just stood there listening in silence. When the man was finished, the monk simply looked at him with a loving smile.
“Well?!” shouted the man. “Don’t you have anything to say? Or are you just going to stand there like a fool?”
The monk said to the man, “You seem quite intelligent. May I ask you a question?”
“Sure, why not?”, the man replied.
So the monk asked him, “If you offer a gift to someone, but they refuse to take it, to whom does the gift belong?”
The man immediately answered, “It would remain with me.”
The monk smiled and said, “So, in like manner, you have offered me your anger, but I have refused it, and so it remains with you alone.”
When a person directs any type of energy toward you, you have a choice to receive it or to reject it. Of course, this may seem easier said than done. In order to consciously make that choice we need to have some understanding. We need to understand, not only how this energy is transferred and how we process it, but why it has arisen in the other person.
We shouldn’t assume that some people are naturally kind and others naturally unkind. We all share the same capacity for kindness and cruelty. There are no intrinsically evil people in the world. There are only people, who, for whatever reason, have little respect or regard for others. So what is that reason? This is what we must seek to understand.
A person who is unkind is not a happy person. Just take a moment to think about it. Have you ever met a genuinely happy person who was unkind to anyone? For the person who is genuinely happy, kindness is effortless and natural. But for the unhappy person, in order to be kind, one must have a great deal of self-control. But this is quite rare.
Now, I am not always a happy person. There are times in my own life when I feel overwhelmed by circumstance, or dissatisfied, or even scared. And I have become very aware over time, by observing myself, that when I’m unhappy, it takes a great deal of self-control to be kind to others. This is because, when we are unhappy we feel frustrated. We are irritable and easily annoyed. We lack patience and understanding, we feel disconnected from others, and our sense of compassion is clouded.
By observing this within myself, and coming to better understand it, I am more able to understand this in regard to others. So when I’m confronted by someone who is unkind, I don’t just think that this person is simply cold-hearted. I understand that they’re simply not happy.
Now, how can I be angry with someone simply for not being happy? First of all, it shows a lack of compassion on my part. And secondly, as soon as I react by becoming upset, I have joined them in their misery. Whatever I have found offensive in them, I have become that also. So now we are both unhappy, and we are sharing the same company. And whatever reason there seemed to be in reacting with anger is now unjustified, because we are both guilty of the same negativity.
Now a lot of this has to do with what I’ve spoken about before, which is taking responsibility for your own emotions, and thereby creating a sort of emotional immunity. Once you have taken full control of your emotional mechanism, no one can affect it. It becomes a conscious choice in how you respond to others. Even when they come to you with negative energy, you can maintain your peace of mind.
So instead of becoming upset in reaction to negative energy, we should learn to cultivate compassion through understanding. By understanding that this person is unhappy, we can have compassion for them. And we can meet their callousness with kindness.
We have to consider that a person who has difficulty being kind perhaps has not been shown much compassion. We don’t know their life story. They may have been abused, physically, verbally, or emotionally. Much of what we learn, we learn by example, and such a person may have not been given a very good example of kindness. If all they have been taught is callousness, then how can we really blame that person for being cruel?
If we can respond to callousness with kindness and compassion, not only do we spare ourselves from taking on unneeded negative energy, but we then become that example of compassion that may be missing from that person’s life. Along with compassion, we must also exercise patience, because we cannot expect such a person to change immediately. Their callousness may be so ingrained and so deep rooted that it may take some time for them to overcome it. But, in my own life, I have seen that if I persist in being patient and compassionate in the face of unkindness, the other person slowly begins to show signs of positive change.
Now, of course, this isn’t to say that we should simply put up with someone who is negatively charged. While we have the choice to react or to remain at peace, we also have the choice to decide who we allow into our company and to what degree. If we’re in a relationship with someone who is abusive, we shouldn’t simply put up with them in hope that someday they will learn to respect us. We can have compassion for them. We can even love them. But we can also have enough respect for ourselves to keep them at a distance or to remove ourselves from their life entirely.
It is only to the degree that we love and respect ourselves that we allow others to treat us with either kindness or callousness. The more we learn to love and respect ourselves, the less we allow others to affect us with their negative energy. If we are still allowing someone to remain close to us who is influencing our mood in a negative way, it means that we still have work to do. It means that we are not fully owning our emotions. It means that we have not truly come to embrace the love that is within us; that we have not come to fully realize our own self-worth.
I have seen in my own life that the more I learn to love and value myself, with compassion and acceptance, the less I allow for toxic relationships. When I meet anyone who does not honor and respect me to the degree in which I honor and respect myself, I simply do not give them my time and energy. I still treat that person with love and respect whenever I may see them, but I don’t allow them to become intimately involved in my life. They remain, at best, a casual acquaintance.
So the next time you find yourself confronted with negative energy, remember that you have a choice in how you respond, or whether you respond at all. Be conscious of your emotional process and take responsibility. Choose to show compassion in the face of cruelty. Know that your very essence is love, and that no one can steal your joy. It belongs to you, and to you alone, and only you have the power to embrace it or abandon it.