Weekly TKD Lesson

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before
starting to improve the world.”
                                        — Anne Frank

Turning up the volume on any positive emotion will empower you and
make you feel good.

However, one of the big challenges you’ll face again and again is
dealing with negative people.

When you’re in a confrontation, observe the emotions you’ve chosen
to feel and depersonalize what the other person is saying and doing.

Remember that even if people directly accuse you or call you a
name, they’re responsible for their own feelings, just as you’re
responsible for yours. They’re making the choice to be angry and
judgmental.

If you unknowingly hurt someone, of course you want to become aware
of it so that you can improve the situation, but getting into an
altercation won’t help anyone feel better, nor will it allow you to
solve problems or correct misunderstandings. Then, too, often
you’ll be on the receiving end of other people’s behavior that has
absolutely nothing to do with you–you just happen to be where their
negative energy falls.

When you’re blamed or treated with hostility, stay positive. Be
calm, loving, and curious. This alone may help the other person
switch into a more positive state.

In the martial art of aikido, if you throw a punch at me, I just
slip and let it go by. I don’t respond to the negativity. This
approach is very effective when it comes to other people’s
challenging behavior. Don’t waste your energy engaging in a fight.
Let others experience their emotions without letting yourself be
drawn into them.

If someone attacks you, try to send him or her love. Doing so can
break down any negative emotion and open up possibilities and
opportunities for you and the other person.

It may be very difficult for you to feel loving around a sibling,
in-law, neighbor, co-worker, or person who cuts you off on the
freeway. Turn up the volume on love, and you’ll feel much better
than if you indulged in anger or resentment. You’ll also find
creative solutions to challenging situations and enable yourself
and others to heal.

When your sister comes to a family gathering and says that you
couldn’t possibly understand her problems at home because you’re
“just” a martial arts guy/gal, you can allow yourself to feel angry
or hurt or choose to feel love for your sister. You can have
curiosity about why she’s so angry, frustrated, or jealous, along
with what’s beneath your own tendency toward defensiveness. You can
listen to your sister vent, ask her questions, and help her get in
touch with her own more positive feelings while you connect with
yours. She might start to think, “If my brother can be so caring
toward me when I’m feeling angry, jealous, and unlovable, maybe I’m
not such an unlovable person after all.” She may begin to heal her
own sense of insecurity.

Love gives you the strength to depersonalize other people’s
behavior and let go of judgments about them. Filled with caring for
yourself and others, you can express your needs in a compassionate
way and inspire others to respect your boundaries and
sensitivities. Your love will help them create love, and this will
assist them in treating you considerately, which will make them
feel good.

Choosing to feel and express your love toward a difficult person is
always a much more productive and positive way to handle the
situation than allowing yourself to switch into negativity. Think
about how wonderful you feel when you’re deeply in love: The whole
world seems brighter because you’re feeling expansive and caring.
If your neighbor blocks your driveway, you’re so filled with love
and joy that you don’t get upset; you simply ring his bell and ask
him nicely to move his car.

Sometimes you’ll choose to deal with difficult, negative people,
perhaps because they’re relatives, co-workers, or parents and you
don’t want to (or can’t) avoid them completely. When they say
something discouraging, you can respond in a way that helps you
connect with your own positive feelings, and that might make them
more aware of how negative they’re being.

They may not be able or willing to shift out of their negativity,
but you’ll feel positive and empowered when you respond in one of
the following ways:

* Sympathize.
One of the most powerful sentences you can say to someone is “I can
understand why you might feel that way” or “I’m sorry that’s how
you feel.” In speaking these words, you’re expressing compassion
and kindness toward someone who could use some positive energy,
without having to be drawn into the person’s negativity.

* Suggest a more positive emotion that they could be experiencing
instead.
You can do this in a subtle way. If someone asks me, “Doesn’t it
make you furious when drivers won’t move out of the passing lane?”
I say, “No, actually, it makes me curious” or “No, it makes me
wonder why they’re so oblivious to the traffic around them.”

When a person asked me recently if I was upset that my house hadn’t
sold yet, I said, “No, I’m not upset. I see it as an opportunity to
experience faith. I’ve priced the house right, houses are selling
all over the place, and I know that I only need one buyer, and it
will be sold.”

* Offer a different, more positive way of describing matters.
If someone complains, “It’s so chaotic around here,” say “Never a
dull moment. I’m glad that we’re all able to be flexible and go
with the flow!”

* Suggest less extreme ways of looking at the situation.
When someone uses extreme words such as never, always, everyone,
and no one, you can gently correct the person’s negative
distortions, saying, “I can see how you’d feel that way after what
happened, but I have faith that not every contractor is a crook.”

* Use humor.
When someone complains, “I can’t believe how impossible the traffic
is on this road. I don’t know why I even bother getting into my
car,” you could reply, “I know! Fred Flintstone could pedal faster!
Where’s our private jet when we need it?” It’s hard to stay mad or
unhappy when you’re giggling!

* Point out the positive aspects of the situation.
If someone says, “I can’t believe how lousy this Taekwondo  instructor
is,” you might comment, “Well, he seems to be able to get the boys
to do their best individually and support each other as a team, and
I know my son is really having a great time training with him.” If
someone else complains about having aches and pains, say, “Well,
I’m glad that if you’re not feeling well, at least I can be here to
cheer you up!” and smile.

* Gently and lovingly point out what others can do to rectify the
situation.

When people are venting, they usually don’t want to hear advice,
but after they calm down, often they’ll take in and seriously
contemplate the words of wisdom they’ve just been given.

When others complain about what’s happening politically, say, “I
agree that that’s a very important issue,” and encourage them to
write to the newspaper or their local representatives or even run
for office. Remind people of their power over their lives. They may
not take you up on your advice, but they may start connecting with
more positive emotions.

* Emphasize the present moment and the hope for the future.
If someone says, “It really stinks that my car had to go to the
shop last week,” reply, “Isn’t it great that it’s in the past now?”
Then you can switch the subject, saying something along the lines
of: “So, what are you going to do now that your car is fixed? Are
you going to drive somewhere this weekend just to get away and have
some fun?”

* Remind them of their gifts.
People who see the glass as half-empty can sometimes stop their
string of complaints when you remind them of the positive things
they have in their life.

Regularly dealing with a difficult person can be very draining
because it takes a lot of energy to avoid getting sucked into
negativity and keep the switches on your own positive emotions high.

If you can, try to delegate the burden once in a while. For
example, you can ask a sibling who’s less sensitive to your
parents’ negativity to deal with their needs and give you a break
so that you can reconnect with your own positivity.

If the negativity of others becomes so great that you’re actually
being abused–verbally or physically–and they’re unwilling or
unable to change their behavior, you must pull away. When you let
someone mistreat you, you’re being unkind and unloving toward
yourself by giving the person permission to abuse you, and that’s
not okay.

***

Each time you choose a positive emotion over a negative one, you
contribute to a new, healthy habit of being empowered.

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