One of the hardest things in the world to do is to change our pre-conceived notions about other people’s behaviour and situations. Many of us struggle with negative thought patterns that have been forming in our minds year after year; experience after experience.
People argue that our negative expectations don’t come from nowhere; that something bad has to have happened in order for us to start forming negative beliefs. In fact, bad things don’t just happen to us ‘out of the blue.’ Negative people and experiences can’t insert themselves into our lives unless we cultivate similar thoughts.
But regardless of which came first, the chicken or the egg, far more bizarre is that many of us continue to ruminate over terrible situations long after they’re over, thereby recreating the same events in our lives over and over again.
An obvious example is when we’ve had bad romantic relationships. Often times, we look at new partners through the lenses of our old relationships. We may search for signs that our new partner will hurt us in the same way that the old one did; and when they don’t, we actually begin to construct negative fantasies in our mind. As we all know by now, any thought we hold for long enough will materialise. Yet when we inevitably receive what we’ve been thinking about, we blame external forces.
The same is true concerning recurring bad situations at work. While it’s never a great idea to tell someone who’s being bullied at work that ‘we create our own reality,’ it’s true all the same. When you find yourself always surrounded by bad people, know this: your ‘outside world’ simply reflects your ‘inside world.’ In other words, if you don’t harbour negative thoughts or fear about being bullied, the same couldn’t come into your experience.
While that sounds harsh, I personally derive comfort from knowing that I create the circumstances of my life, those that I like, and those I don’t like. That means if I don’t like what the world around me is reflecting back to me, all I have to do is to change my thoughts and my life must follow suit; it’s the ultimate self-empowerment!
Yet for many people, it’s a bitter pill to swallow. They’d rather continue to point fingers at other people and accuse them of sabotaging them. While there may indeed be bad people out there plotting your downfall, your attention to them is what gives them their power. Take your mind off them and move it something more positive and they cannot touch you. None of us is a ‘victim of our environment;’ we create our environment.
Consider this Sufi tale of a man who entered a village and went to see the Sufi master, the wise old man of the village. The visitor said, ‘I’m deciding whether I should move here or not; and I’m wondering what kind of community this is. Can you tell me about the people here?’
The Sufi master said, ‘Tell me what kind of people lived where you came from?’
The visitor said, ‘Oh, they were highway robbers, cheats, and liars.’
The old Sufi master said, ‘You know, those are exactly the same kinds of people who live here.’
The visitor left the village and never came back. Half an hour later, another man entered the village. He sought out the Sufi master and said, ‘I’m thinking of moving here. Can you tell me about what kind of people live here?’
Again the Sufi master said, ‘Tell me what kind of people lived where you came from.’
The second visitor replied, ‘Oh, they were the kindest, gentlest, most compassionate, loving people. I shall miss them terribly.’
The Sufi master said, ‘Those are exactly the kinds of people who live here, too.’ ”
If everyone around you is a thief, a liar, a cheat, or your ‘friends’ are always betraying you, it’s because you’re holding chronic thought patterns that attract these kinds of people to you. Similarly, if the people around you love and adore you, they’re merely reflecting the love and appreciation you harbour inside.
Have you ever moved from a job, believing you’re escaping from a bad boss, only to find a worse one waiting for you at the next job? The problem is not your boss; it’s your fear of being treated badly. If you’re wondering why the same awful situation keeps following you around everywhere you go, the answer is simple: it’s because everywhere you go, you take yourself with you. Change your thoughts and you change your life.
Blaming other people for what happens to you gives too much power to other people. Never mind what evil people may be harbouring in their hearts. The question is, what’s in your heart?
Consider this tale of two monks, who were returning to the monastery where they lived. It had rained and there were puddles of water on the road sides. At one place a beautiful young woman was standing unable to walk across because of a puddle of water. The elder of the two monks went up to her, lifted her, and left her on the other side of the road, continuing on his way to the monastery.
In the evening, a now agitated younger monk came to the elder monk and said, “Sir, as monks, we cannot touch a woman.”
The elder monk replied: “yes, brother.”
Then the younger monk said, “but then sir, how is that you lifted that woman on the roadside?”
The elder monk smiled at him and said, “brother, I left her on the other side of the road, but you are still carrying her.”
What load, or negative thoughts, are you still carrying in your mind? Set down your load! Remember: we create our reality through our thoughts.
Other people can never be an obstacle to your joy and success, unless you give them that power. Your happiness lies in your own hands!
Make it a great week!