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Dealing with Mean People
The other day I was driving thru Starbucks for my ritual unsweetened passion fruit ice tea. When I approached the barista at the window she told me I didn’t have to pay because the car ahead of me had paid for my drink. Slightly stunned, it took me a few beats to integrate what she was saying.
Since that day I’ve been thinking more and more about the profound power of random acts of kindness. It’s truly amazing how waning faith in humanity can be completely restored by a simple compassionate act. The unconditional expression of love and kindness, no matter how small, can shift our entire experience of humanity. Certainly, when we offer kindness to others simply because they are fellow human or sentient beings, we benefit as much or possibly more than the receiver.
I’ve frequently contemplated why these random acts create so much positivity for us. Perhaps they take us out of our prescriptive existences and into the experience of true connection. These unexpected offerings of love give us a glimpse of the profound confluence we could be a part of daily if we were willing to lead our lives with a true generosity of spirit.
On the other hand, snarkiness, which is characterized by the Urban Dictionary as “Use of sarcasm or malice in speech” runs rampant in our culture. Increasingly and especially in the cyber world we can act out our hatred and malice by writing “hit and run” comments. We may not realize the impact that our nastiness has on others.
Several months ago, a young female celebrity called me. One of the most famous people of our time, it was painful to hear in her voice how she had been effected by the storm of unkindness that she lives with daily. Of course, most of the stories that had been written about her were untrue and most definitely unnecessary. These tales were written and read by people that never knew her. I saw how she had been affected deeply by random acts of snarkiness. We may be tempted to think our snide, snarky and unkind comments have little or no effect in the world, but often they pack a much bigger punch than we realize. If we really understood that we are all connected would this be how we would choose to use our energy?
Even attempts to align with one person or another when we sport a “Team” so and so shirt, just create further division. If we are for one person, must we be against another? The non-dual force of just being “for” and not “against” is a powerful stance in the world. In my 20s I was a liberal, feminist, vegetarian, metaphysical, social worker. Unfortunately, my inability to appreciate views other than my own made me seem to others very cartoonish, I am sure. My desire to encourage people to fight my causes was undermined by the literally unattractive energy of being against so many things.
The common adage that I was sharing with my children the other day “If you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all” is really about compassion. Too many of us are tempted to embrace the new mantra “If you can’t say anything nice about anyone, then sit next to me.”
Some of us have grown up in families where snarky behavior is de rigueur and we might not even be aware that we are still operating in this highly toxic fashion. Thank goodness we always have a chance to begin again. In order to make a change we may want to catch ourselves thinking kind things about others. Then, we may commit to cultivating the habit of expressing these supportive and loving thoughts as much as possible. When I observe something wonderful about another person I will often make a note to myself and then follow up when I have time. This antidote to snarkiness will literally give us an energetic boost (if you don’t believe me, try it for a week and see how great you feel and how much your life shifts).
If you feel effected by the snarky people in your community consider creating some healthy boundaries. A television personality I worked with told me she was highly disturbed by all the cruel messages she read about herself on the show’s message board. I personally found this disturbing especially because she is such a lovely, kind and sympathetic figure. The boundary she created for herself was to not read the message board. In fact, in my new e-course The Alma Answers, one of the steps to divine wisdom is to “Accept and love yourself just because you are-don’t depend on positive or negative opinions as reference points”.
Many readers of this article will recognize themselves as people with far too much grace, decorum and reverence to be outwardly nasty with others. However, thinking unkind thoughts and making petty (or big) judgments about others also needs to be addressed if you wish to practice the Dalai Lama’s “religion” of kindness. Creating a mind discipline to think loving and forgiving thoughts about others is far worth any effort it takes. As the saying goes “It really is best to check yourself before you wreck yourself.”
(c) 2012 Revised Jeanine Marie Austin, Ph.D., C.Ht.
Doctor of Life Coaching, Certified Hypnotherapist
Simply Divine Solutions
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