Unfortunately we all have them, people who rub us the wrong way, annoy us, infuriate us… People who without even being aware of their power over us, can place a black moody storm cloud over our entire day… We have them as friends, family members, relatives, in-laws, neighbors, coworkers, bosses, and if we are lucky enough to not have many or few of the aforementioned sort, then we have those that we share with thousands to millions of other people. We find these dark clouds online and on the news – criminals, a certain presidential candidate, terrorists, etcetera…
We live in a world of relationships, and try as we might, unless we are willing to entirely isolate ourselves and lose out on all the good that relationships have to offer us, we are going to confront the bad from time to time. We can’t always change these people. It’s not our job or even our right. Sometimes we can, but activism simply isn’t one of our values. But they still have power over our thoughts, our mood, and sense of well being. What can we do about this?
In general I recommend a regular daily practice of yoga, mindfulness and meditation. Working with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy self-help manuals are a good route to developing a different relationship to your thoughts and mind as well.
Today though I am thinking of one book in particular. It’s called Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life: Living the Wisdon of the Tao by Wayne Dyer.
In my work as a law clerk, for many hours a week in am exposed to the thoughts and plans of people handling separation and divorce in what I consider the most dysfunctional ways. I see dishonesty and deceit, vengefulness, selfishness, and greed on a daily basis. And I see it run amok unchecked. As a compassionate helping professional this wears on me greatly. Fortunately I’ve embarked on a path of putting this work behind me, but until I reach the end of that path, and even once I do because we’re simply always going to encounter people making choices that we would not, Wayne Dyer’s book has been a lifesaver for learning understanding, patience and acceptance.
For those of your who are not spiritual, it may help you to think of the Tao instead as the Zero Point Field discussed by quantum physicists. Even if you don’t take this approach, I still believe that you can easily filter out the light dogma and find some very useful words and advice for maintaining equanimity and peace of mind in the midst of all that might irk us in the world today…