All too often in life, we let our perceptions of misdeeds done against us weigh us down. When we feel slighted, hurt and angry it is hard for us to forget. But, with that stark memory comes a heavy price; these emotions jade us, creating a protective barrier of distrust.
We become a bit more guarded, and perhaps less willing to let someone have the chance to make us feel that way again. In allowing the manner in which other people treat us affect the way we treat others, we aren’t doing ourselves any favors.
What we fail to realize is that it’s more than likely that whatever it is that caused us to react like this, whatever someone or something did or said that we deemed wrong, and caused us pain, was done entirely of their own volition and for their own good; it’s unlikely their intent was to purposefully offend or injure us.
People are strange. They do many strange things for many even stranger reasons.
But the large majority of those reasons share one common trait: they are self-serving, understood to have a benefit. When people’s reasons for their actions are, in fact, solely and directly to cause anguish or strife to others, we label them sociopaths, make them wear funny white suits and occlude them from society. They are the outlier – not the norm.
If we neglect to recognize this conclusion, that people do things because they want to, we are not only allowing, but actually aiding in letting ourselves feel very strong emotions that aren’t very pleasant for most of us.
Contradicting the intent of the change in our behavior, to protect ourselves, we instead are ambushing our most sensitive places, creating a fantastic opportunity for that which we are trying to maintain defenses from. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot, whilst usually completely oblivious to the entire process.
When you think about it from an objective, detached point-of-view the concepts aren’t difficult to grasp. It kind of makes sense. But, objective and detached aren’t typically very good words to describe emotions that are very real to all of us, and that can be the difficult part.
When we feel strongly about something, when something strikes a nerve in us, and we can’t help but to stand up and say something about it, it is a very whole feeling. It doesn’t really cross your mind to think about your indignation from a different vantage, because your indignation is your vantage.
For almost all of us, those who want to be happy and not hurt, our potential struggles in releasing the cumbersome shroud of pain lie in the necessary and distinctly opposite nature of the style that is instinctive to assess our relations with others; i.e. cognitive and rational versus reactive and emotional.
We are very used to reacting to emotions with other emotions, and it is awkward to consciously “think” about how we feel about something.
While this is starting to sound a little analytical, perhaps a bit dry, if we remember that our intent is to feel good, some of us may choose to persist. Once we realize that how others treat us is not a reflection of our worth, nor necessarily important to our emotions, it becomes a bit less clumsy and a bit easier to not let our true selves, our raw, unguarded personalities be compromised by someone else’s bad trip.
It becomes easier to shrug things off with a smile, and not a plastic commercial smile, but a genuine, honest-to-goodness “I’m happy” smile, the kind where your eyes wrinkle around the corners and let a glimpse of the light of the fire of your passion for life escape in a quick twinkle. Because it becomes easier to forgive and forget, to truly know and embrace those feelings, to have the capacity for compassion.
It becomes easier to love, to enjoy and see the world for the giant playground that it is. Because once you eliminate the negativity from your emotional radar, love emerges on its own, with no coaxing or coercing, like a freshly sprung forest floor sprouting in the ashy remnants of a devastating fire. Because once you have genuine love for everything in your life, it becomes as contagious as laughter. You literally can’t help but to be happy.
So, the next time something upsets you, pause for a few moments. Ask yourself, “is this worth being upset about?” I think you know what the answer will be most of the time.
“…once you eliminate the negativity from your emotional radar, love emerges on its own…”