Monday, June 10, 2013

A "Negative Nelly" Contaminates My Mind...Or Does She?

I was having a conversation the other day with a woman I didn't know.

I had just met her, but we struck up a conversation and before I knew it, I was bombarded with a barrage of "poor me's," "ain't it tough's," and "life is hard's."

I can remember, in the past, having those kinds of conversations and unknowingly, taking that energy with me and not understanding why I felt funky for the rest of the day.

On this day, however, I noticed, with great awareness, how far I'd come...

I have a time in my life that I can look back on and recognize a similar mindset like this lady.  My life was a mess, to be honest.  I focused in on what wasn't good in my life, which was my job, my car, my house, my bank account.  Nothing surrounding me was really anything I liked.

What I have come to learn is summed up so greatly by Ernest Holmes:

"Negative forces operating in our lives will die a natural death if we practice the habit of being disinterested in them."

As I fast-forward several years in my life, I no longer give attention to the things that frustrate or challenge me.  Emotions may surface around them, but I have a keen awareness of these emotions, and move past them quickly.

Interestingly enough, I no longer have the things in my circumstances that I don't like.  On the contrary, I have more things that overwhelm me with joy and push me to tears almost on a daily basis...

Why?

Because I choose to put my attention on the things that bring me joy and little attention on the things that frustrate me.

I realized, after watching a recent interview of, Buddhist Monk, That Nich Hahn, that I practiced the greatest gift of all to the woman I will call "Negative Nelly..."

...mindful listening.

I did not offer her advice of "focus on the positive!"  She wasn't in a space to receive that.

I simply listened to her.  I gave her my time.  I gave her an ear and I allowed her to vent her frustrations.

I left, free and clear without an ounce of negative energy from the conversation.  

As That Nich Hahn explained, when we practice mindful listening, for that time, be give someone the ability to release their pain.  Even for a second, we have made a difference in her life.

I knew I had done that for my new friend, however, with an awareness expanding in leaps in bounds because of my classes at CSLCV, I was able to walk away from it clear of any negative feelings, get into my car, and once again, be moved to tears at the overwhelming joy of finally driving a car I love!