External Situations Do Not Have Power Over Us
“Being a good person doesn’t depend on your religion, your race or your skin colour or your culture. It depends on how good your heart is and how good you treat others.”—Anonymous
Think about a person in your life causing you distress. Try to get a sense of the emotions you feel when you think about them. Sit with these feelings as you read this article because I want you to revisit them at the end. It’s no surprise, sometimes we encounter people we don’t like and want out of our life. It is my experience that people find it difficult to be pleasant to those they dislike. This is understandable since the other person may cause us pain and suffering. But what I am proposing in this article is being civil to them irrespective of our differences. Even though we may not like the other person, we can at least be polite to them. Is this something you’re willing to try? I realise it may be difficult, yet you can still be civilised towards others in the face of disagreement. This is the premise of the anonymous quote which reads: “If people respect you respect them back; if they disrespect, you respect them back. They represent their ideology you represent yours.”
For example, I live in a quiet neighbourhood though I have a neighbour who is noisy. They play loud music almost nightly via speakers in their backyard. Their dog barks throughout the day and sometimes into the night. It makes it difficult to work from home and I often resort to wearing earplugs to cancel out the noise. However, on the occasions I see them in the street, I am pleasant to them and have a brief conversation without allowing my frustration to get the better of me. The point I’m trying to make is: We mustn’t let others disrupt our inner peace otherwise we get dragged into their world. It is easy to get angry when we experience difficulties in our lives. Sometimes it is unavoidable, yet if we allow the feelings to pass and return to a state of peace, we find that external situations needn’t overpower us. There is a lot to be upset about in the world nowadays. If we buy into this way of living, we are bound to get irritated and take to social media to voice our opinion. But do you really want to be that person? Do you want to let your anger get the better of you or would you prefer inner peace? These are difficult choices to make because it may seem we are relinquishing our power.
When They Go Low, We Go High
“When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency.”—Samuel Johnson
I felt that way with my neighbour’s constant noise because I couldn’t control it. But I had it all wrong because they have no awareness of what it’s like to have inner peace. The important point here is: The people you have difficulties with are operating from a level of consciousness they are familiar with. They may be difficult to deal with but it would be better to give them the benefit of the doubt because as the motivational speaker Jim Rohn used to say: “People would do better, if they knew better.” What are your thoughts about this? Do you believe some people are intent to make our life a living hell or are they operating from a limited awareness? People can only act from what they know and getting angry serves no one because they don’t see what you see. It is why personal growth is valuable since we upgrade our consciousness to see more and become more.
We must cultivate good thoughts and nurture them daily to evolve. If we allow others to drag us down to their level, we become like them. Don’t succumb to their ways. It is what the former First Lady Michelle Obama meant when she said: “When they go low, we go high.” We mustn’t allow others to drag us into the murky waters of despair and gloom. It is easy to succumb to negativity especially when we have been wronged against. Sometimes it will feel hopeless, however I invite you to think about what you’ve read so far and take the higher ground. The other person must be in pain to drag you down to their level. Therefore, refuse to give in to their ways but show them what it’s like to be at a higher level, as Michelle Obama reminds us. Even if they cannot attain this level, at least you refuse to get dragged into their negativity. With this in mind, I asked you at the beginning to reflect on the individual causing you difficulty. Try to get a sense of what it would be like to maintain a higher ground with this person. Upon your next interaction, see if you can be courteous to them without giving away your power. Treat them politely without succumbing to their negative ways. You cannot fight fear and anger with more fear and anger. Peace and love cancels out fear every time. It is only once we can be civil to others that our pain and struggle give way to insights and freedom.