Sister Jayanti explains how to handle negativity within ourselves and when it comes from others.
In this world there are so many questions about our future, the environment and population, the financial and political situation, distribution of resources. You only have to pick up a newspaper to realise the world is in a horrendous state. It is easy to become negative. If I want to become negative I can find 1,001 reasons to be so. If I allow all these factors to influence me then yes, it is as if 1,000 guns were pointed at my head, so I feel extremely negative. Another factor is the people I am surrounded by, it is very easy to become influenced by their negativity. I may be influenced by people that I work with and sometimes it is their negativity attacking me, then it becomes difficult to maintain my balance, lightness and happiness because of their negative reactions and responses to everything, or it could be my negative response towards them. I might not like the way they talk to me or look at me, so there is a gradual build-up of feelings of being pressured from all directions. So how do I escape?
Even if I were to escape there will be another deep realisation–that the problem is not actually the world outside or the people I am with. If I spend a few moments in honest reflection I realise that whatever is going on inside of me is the root of my negativity. This probably won’t bring joy or lightness and may even cause feelings of depression or heaviness because it means I have realised that the negativity is coming from inside. How do I cope with it? First of all, I can try to understand it, and by understanding and realising it I have gone a long way towards being able to put it right.
I understand that the period of history that civilisation is passing through now is a particularly dark one. But it cannot last forever. The condition of the world is horrific but it will change. After the darkness the light will come; night has to turn into day. This will happen in the passage of time; I cannot force the day to come, I cannot force the pace of it so I learn to be a detached observer. I can be part of the movements that will bring the day and not allow things to affect my own inner state of consciousness. This requires a bit of experimentation. I can draw on analogy here: An actor plays a role on stage and is totally involved in all that is going on. Someone in the audience is aware of everything on the stage also but has a different state of consciousness. I have to learn to be both in this game of life. I have to be an actor and an observer. I have to be able to step aside and look at things from a distance. This will bring faith and confidence in the fact that the darkness of night will pass and the light of day will come.
What about the negativity of other people? I know that if I am affected by the negativity of other people then I am going to be plunged into the cycle of actions, reactions and responses over which I have no control. But if I see them, hear them, respect them as human beings and individuals, and I understand their point of view, I will not let myself be moved from my position of inner stability. If I can make sure that I remain my own master, their negativity will flow over me and above me and not influence me. I can ask myself what it is that I want and then move in the direction to reach that goal. I can develop the art of detachment, being friends and yet not allowing them to touch me. I can draw on another analogy here: think of the image of a lotus flower. It is found in dirty, stagnant water yet the lotus has a waxy substance on its petals and nothing can touch the surface, the dirt just rolls off. I can create that layer of protection so my inner purity and stability remain unaffected by outside influences. Only in this way can I be true to myself. Otherwise I become a puppet of circumstances and situations that others have created and I am no longer a master of my own feelings and destiny. I learn to have this protection through the experience of detachment and the awareness of God and this will bring a canopy of blessings influencing myself and others around me.
Is there a human being creating a shadow over you? Sometimes I find myself in a situation whereby I am reacting against someone and then it becomes more and more difficult and irritating to manage that individual. I am creating a huge burden for myself which will make it more difficult to live with myself, as well as the individual. If I want to create an environment of peace and love around me, my response of negativity towards anyone becomes extremely uncomfortable for me.
I must try not to allow this build-up of negativity to happen. If it’s happened already, let me analyse the whole process and I will see that it is a subtle form of ego because I think that the way I thank, the things I do and my understanding is all correct and the other person is wrong. So I am constantly criticising–this will mean a build-up of this negativity. Appreciate that it has come from my own ego and learn humility and respect, recognise the value of the individual and acknowledge the goodness in them.
Everyone has enormous value, I just have to have the right vision to be able to see it. When I start appreciating their value, I will realise the negativity is my own. Yes, they do things in a different way from me but there has to be variety so let me appreciate that. I cannot change them or control them; what I can do is change my attitude and my responses. If I continue to have the vision of love and respect for them I know that through this there is a very good possibility that I can influence them and help them in their change process. If I react against them I will not be able to influence them in the future because my reactions will have set up a barrier between us, thereby making communication very difficult. If I change my attitude in a genuine way–not from diplomacy or artificial courtesy but by seeing their eternal, original divine state–then with genuine respect a good level of communication will arise, and perhaps, at the right time, we can talk about things and a change can take place. But I must not allow this build-up of negativity to destroy communication with them; otherwise walls will have been built up which will be difficult to sort out later on.
Perhaps the most difficult thing for me to come to terms with is the negativity I feel about myself. I see my weaknesses, I see the difficulties I have created, I see the emotional debts I have accumulated, and I wonder how it is ever going to be possible to deal with all of this. If I lose hope things will get difficult. Therefore, I do not allow the cycle of negativity to come into being, I do not lose love for myself or negative thoughts will pull me further and further down. As soon as I see that there is the possibility of this negative cycle beginning, I make sure I cut it at that point because cycles are powerful; one weak though and another and another and I am trapped. If I cannot stop it before it begins, it ties me into a knot. Firstly, I must see the cause and what needs to be done, and look at the future so I can prevent things from happening; then I take precautions so that it will not happen again. When I recognise myself as an eternal soul, I alter my vision of myself completely. I come back to the realisation of my own original form and feel the divine being that I truly am, and hope returns.
Appreciate that it has come from my own ego and learn humility and respect, recognise the value of the individual and acknowledge the goodness in them.
The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (BKWSU) is an international non-governmental organisation, which intends to help individuals re-discover and strengthen their inherent worth by encouraging and facilitating a process of spiritual awakening.