The Light of Awareness
The light of awareness heals. With so much negativity in our world, let’s take a step back and explore the nature of negativity in hopes that the exploration will illuminate the path to healing it within ourselves and our relationships. May we proceed then in the spirit of loving kindness and understanding.
From time to time, we all get angry, negative, and judgmental. Someone says or does something that upsets us and we react. That is normal and quite understandable. But there are some things about this that merit a great deal of earnest reflection.
First and foremost, many people hold on to their anger and resentment for a long time. It is as if a judgment is made and then, within a person’s heart and mind, it is etched in stone.
Now, please do not misunderstand me. It is reasonable and proper that we come to recognize how another behaves. Some may often be abrasive. Some may love to gossip. Some may frequently judge harshly. We all have our ways about us. To ignore or live in denial of those things is not wise. As we learn more and more about another’s tendencies, we act accordingly, and do our best to not trigger those tendencies or put ourselves in the wake of those tidal waves of negativity. However, to respond by reciprocating with negativity is neither wise nor constructive.
What I am addressing with this first point is the fixity of a negative perspective we hold toward another person and how damaging it is, not only to them, but also to ourselves. Our thoughts, emotions, and perspectives are things that have very real effects upon ourselves, others, and our environment.
It is one thing, and wise, to strive to understand others so our relationship can be healthy. It is quite another thing to inflame and feed negativity in this world. To be a good and loving person is not to be oblivious to how people behave. Rather, it is to recognize how another behaves, yet still see that there is a soul within them that is one with God. We must learn to let go of the hatred and negativity within us, while understanding such negativity does exist within people who hold on to it as their perspective, attitude, and ‘truth,’ thusly coloring their hearts and minds.
On a daily basis, the best we can do is to understand this, while striving to not lose ourselves to the negativity to which we see others so lost.
Relativity and Conflict
Secondly, it is important to understand that this is the world of perspectives. Fundamentally, this world is built upon perspectives. That is why it is called ‘the relative.’ The only ‘Absolute Truth’ transcends this relative world of perspectives. We could go deeply into the physics (Heisenberg) and Vedanta (Ishwara) of this, but for now, let’s stay on a pragmatic daily level. Where there are people involved, there are contradictory perspectives.
The question then is: “How do you respond (mentally, emotionally, and psychologically) to people with other perspectives?” Do you respond with polarization and negativity? Do you dig in your heels and judge them? Do you resent, criticize, demean, and scorn? Or do you, with humility, remain open-minded and open-hearted, as you strive to see what truth may be there for you to gain and learn from? As I am fond of saying: “To be wise is to under-stand, not over-stand.” You will never find another person with whom you will always agree with regarding everything. Love, kindness, wisdom, and peace all see much more deeply than that.
Friends and Affinities
Thirdly, where do our judgments come from? So often they are not a result of what we have directly experienced, but rather what we have heard. And what we hear and then believe is the result of affinities. We tend to believe our friends. We tend to believe our political affiliates. We tend to believe what we hear from those we associate with. And we also tend to believe what we have heard first, and have allowed it to color our hearts and minds. With so much negativity consuming our world, if we instinctively take what we hear as truth, we too become consumed by the negative. We do well to remember the poet’s words: “In war and peace the truth just twists”. We do well to rest more deeply into the ocean of our being… in a place that transcends the tidal waves of perspective and negativity.
Assumption and Fear
The fourth point involves assumptions. We often assume the worst of the intentions and behavior of others. We tend to think wisdom means being ‘streetwise’ and “streetwise” means to assume the worst of others. Such assumptions are not made because an individual is particularly negative. On some level, it serves us; it protects us. It is said that this is a characteristic of survival in the jungle: a deer walking through the jungle, not appreciating the beautiful flowers, but rather assuming there is a tiger behind the plants, waiting to pounce. However, at some point, such assumptions no longer serve, but instead compromise our life and our relationships.
Furthermore, it is not at all easy to recognize when we’ve lost ourself to the negativity and have then distorted our perception. Such assumptions are rooted in fear. So, within our Darwinian genetics is fear… the assumption that the worst dwells in others and the belief that to understand them is to believe that they are motivated by the worst within them. We are afraid the tiger will get us. We are afraid and assume we will be, or have been, betrayed, cheated, lied to, deceived, hurt, or worse. To be cautious is wise, but to be ‘streetwise’ is not wise. It is rooted in fear.
We do well to at least consider that goodness motivates other people, even though their perspectives may contradict our own. In times like this, evolving our relationship with our assumptions and fears is extremely important and largely determines the course of our lives. So we do well to take a step back when our assumptions and fears are triggered. Humility and self-reflection will then serve not only the situation and the other person, but also ourselves. Keep in mind that the assumptions and fears are deeply rooted in our physiologies, as if they determine the color of glasses through which we view others. Seeing past the color of the glasses is a challenging, but most rewarding, process.
The Squeaky Wheel
Lastly, let’s consider an old expression: “The squeaky wheel gets the oil”. We can play with it a bit to realize that what we hear the most is what we tend to believe. What squeaks the loudest is what overtakes us and negativity squeaks and squeals with volume and vigor. Wisdom, on the other hand, tends to remain more reflective, nonjudgmental, and silent. Wisdom prefers to not feed and support the churning ocean of conflict, judgment, hatred, and perspective.
Our Relationship with These Insights
On the one hand, all this may feel depressing. Yet, if our relationship with these insights is healthy, it can facilitate healing. If we lose ourselves to these points, we then actually become negative. But if we hold them wisely, we heal. May this light of understanding serve as a cooling balm to heal the state of our world. May we hold these insights in a manner that helps us see, understand, and live untainted by negativity. Yes, in a moment, we may lose ourselves to negativity. However, with this understanding, may we find our way out of entanglement within the weeds of negativity that consume so much of life. And may we thereby attain greater understanding, wisdom, peace, harmony, and love.