A number of years ago, I was really struggling with someone who had married a family member of mine. I tried avoiding her, but since she was the one who always answered the phone when I called, it was impossible. At one point, I seriously considered stopping contact with that member of my family because I felt so much hostility from his wife. It wasn’t only me either…everyone else had the same issue which really made the situation (her) seem impossible. Instead of ending the relationship, I decided to try to be open, compassionate and friendly when I called, and it never got any better.
One day it dawned on me that all of my “trying to be spiritual and loving” with her, was really just a lofty sounding cover-up. When I truly looked at what I was doing energetically, I was bracing myself for the worst, hoping that she would be at least cordial, while dreading the interaction. I also realized that I had never really looked for the positive things about her. I never wanted to see them. Thinking about her good points, felt like I was giving her the upper hand somehow. And since she apparently didn’t like me at all, I in turn, didn’t want to like her. The times in between phone calls, when I thought about her, it was in very unfriendly ways.
What finally turned things around for me was asking my family member what he loved about her. He told me that she was honest and fair, and I believed him. I didn’t have to like every thing about her (frankly, that would have seemed impossible) but I could try to see something good, vs. always looking at her through a critical lens. I then began the work of thinking about her in this positive light, and not just 10 minutes before I made a call (while thinking trash all the rest of the time) but every time I thought of her.
The change came when instead of just putting a “holy band-aid” on the situation, I genuinely found something to appreciate about her and held my mind on that.
Thinking negative, critical thoughts is so natural when we feel like we are being criticised or not liked, but these thoughts never lead to inner peace, never lead to more life or happiness for us.This kind of judgemental thought creates an invisible circle around us that actually repels Life and sends out a signal of struggle and discord that keeps happiness away. We don’t give up anything of value by thinking well of our fellow travelers on this journey called life (no matter how difficult we think they are). There is something of infinite value in every one of us and when we choose to look for it, first in ourselves, and then in others, we gain a life that works, flows, and expands into more love and happiness, not only for ourselves but for all who come into our sphere of influence.
“It is one of the great troubles of life that we cannot have any unmixed emotions. There is always something in our enemy that we like, and something in our sweetheart that we dislike“. William Butler Yeats