From the next room I could hear her exasperated sighs. As she worked on a project, the sound of her exhalations caused me to believe that she didn't want to be there. I found myself feeling anxious in the presence of the negative energy I picked up from her.
Soon she came into the room where I worked. Being in a position of oversight, she began to find fault with something in the work I had done, clearly criticizing it.
When she left to go back to the next room, I felt angry and resentful. "How unfair!" I thought to myself. "The criticism she just showered on me isn't at all warranted!" And I was off to the races, carrying on an argument with her in my head. As I did so, I worked my way further and further into frustration, resentment and ill will toward her.
Then it dawned on me that I could do nothing to change her opinions or thoughts or feelings. I had charge, however, of my own. I realized that my reaction to her criticism reflected things about me, not about her. If I wanted to restore my sense of inner peace and balance, I couldn't wait for her to change her attitude and actions. I had to change mine.
When I opened myself up to the possibility of nurturing a different attitude within myself, it occurred to me how I might do that. I began to visualize all kinds of positive, good stuff flowing into this woman's life. Mentally, I heaped blessings and light and love onto her.
This wasn't easy at first. Part of me derived a kind of pleasure from making her wrong. Emotionally, I felt resistance to sending her warm and loving thoughts. Because I knew that my own mental and emotional health would suffer if I didn't, I persisted. After a couple of minutes, it became easier. I kept imagining peace, light and joy flowing into and around her
As I did so, a change occurred in me. My resentment began to melt away, and a feeling of good will began to replace it. I began to feel lighter, more joyful. My inner peace had returned.
Sometimes changing your own attitude can effect a change in the other person. I know someone who changed her resentment toward her sister by sending positive energy toward her. Soon afterward, the sister called her and apologized for things she had said and done, without this person saying a word to her.
It doesn't always work this way. In my case, I saw no visible results in my co-worker. To this day, I don't know if my positive emissions toward her affected her at all. And that wasn't my point in doing it. I did it for me. It worked to change my feelings toward her and to restore my own equanimity.
It's not someone else's actions that cause you to experience upsets; it's your perception of that person's actions. In this case, I had at first taken this woman's attitudes and actions personally, believing that they were about me. When I remembered that her criticism of others stems from harsh judgment that she heaps onto herself, I found it easier to have compassion for her.
You can use your own emotional reactions as information, not about the other person, but about you. You always have a choice in the reactions you have toward others and how they treat you. When you really believe this, you need never become stuck in anger or resentment or disdain or fear.
You can always find a way out.
Dr. Marta practices as a professional mentor, encouraging others toward better communication and higher consciousness. Contact her at 928-451-9482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.