Thursday, November 14, 2019

Dealing With Toxic People Through Compassion

Today I want to talk about when a toxic person or group come into your life and you come across them, how do you cope and deal and learn to let go. I have tried to choose a Buddhist point of view. Yes a more spiritual point of view but Spirituality is not about becoming the person that you are supposed to be, or about doing the "spiritual" thing. To be spiritual is to compassionately welcome your truth -- what you actually feel -- whether you like that truth or not.

Not too long ago I ran into a group of people that have passed rumors about me and tried to get a community to act against me and were toxic to me as their intent has been to create harm to me.  They lied, they conspired and they got people to choose sides by being relentless about their dishonesty. There was a group of them the toxic person and their faithful followers.  What surprised me so much when I happened to bump into them was my reaction towards them. In the past I had hurt and anger, but this time, I only had compassion for them. I did not get angry or upset or think why me, I just figured why not me.

I really began to understand that these negative people provide us with a test. Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. This group of people would end up being my greatest teacher. I understand that it is easy to accept pleasant people and circumstance, but practicing acceptance with regards to people and circumstance that we find difficult or challenging or that is filled with negative intent is a true path to spiritual growth.

I learned I had to accept these people for who they were and I knew they were suffering and it I understood it was about spiritual growth in Buddhism and they were my teachers in compassion.

Dishonest and toxic people who have caused you deliberate harm can make you feel angry and hurt and even bring back the moments in life where they mistreated you, lied and then created a hate bond can be dealt with in a Buddhist manner. No you do not have to be Buddhist to practice Buddhist teaching. Here is the bottom line, even if they deserve your bitterness, hurt and anger, you should not hold onto it. Carrying those feelings and holding onto them can only create harm to you and you allow the toxic people to win. Do you really want to give that to them?

You see toxic people suffer from many problems such as pain, suffering, affliction, neurosis, psychosis, paranoia, fear, tension, anxiety, depression and have fallen off the emotional wagon. Some of these people are so unhappy they have to take medications to keep them functional in society. They suffer so much, they tend to gather other people who are suffering like them to walk beside them. With that said, the practical approach to anyone who is suffering is through compassion. Now I get that many get confused what compassion means so let me just simplify it. Compassion is a mind that is motivated by cherishing other living beings and wishes to release them from their suffering. Pretty easy right? Not really! It takes an awful lot of meditation, peace of mind and practice. We will get to that later.

So let’s simplify what a toxic person is. A toxic person is someone who lacks empathy and boast about their honesty so they don’t even see the problem with being dishonest with themselves as well as others. The biggest concern with toxic people is they bring down others in order to bring up their own self-worth and self-esteem. They will spread rumors and use words to try to inflict pain and suffering because of their own personal pain and suffering.

In fact these toxic people who we have learned are people who choose to suffer, are creating negative Karma for themselves and the conditions for their future of unhappiness and suffering. They become more judgmental and unhappy. They should learn from a great spiritual leader who said, “Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.”

I have to say I am not perfect. I fail at compassion and acceptance every day, in many ways, I do find that my daily spiritual practice and meditation makes it easier for me to live and act from a centered, peaceful place. Loving Kindness. Recently I had a person I knew who was addicted to her trauma. I felt myself having so little compassion for that person because that was all they focused on. It got to a point where they are no longer in my life as I would not allow it, and they became so attached to their suffering, they found others who wanted to suffer with them. I lost a couple quote friends that day because I refused to become the injury they were attached to. At first when I spoke of these people, I used words of anger, but today when I awoke, I got how much pain and affliction, neurosis, psychosis, paranoia, fear, tension, anxiety, depression attention seeking behaviors and desperation they had and I had utter compassion for them. It was like a house was lifted off my chest. I knew the universe was taking care of me by having me see their utter suffering and dependence on their suffering.
Carrying around your hurt and pain for another person leads to tension and unhappiness within you, so it is best to set aside grudges, if only for your own sake. Also, appreciate the opportunities that your enemies provide for you to practice your patience and loving kindness!

People you dislike will indeed give you the chance to deepen your practice. In any case, by wishing that your enemies be “well, happy, and peaceful,” by wishing that they encounter no “difficulties” or “problems,” you wish to remove the conditions that made them your enemies in the first place. In other words, by practicing loving kindness even toward people you don’t like or have with intent caused you harm, you help create a better, happier, more peaceful world for everyone.

If this practice is something you struggle to do, I suggest incorporating it into your daily meditation practice. Here is the thing though, you do not have to hold onto their suffering.  Really why make their suffering create suffering for your own self. So when I was faced with a group of people whose only intent is to cause me harm, I surprised myself that a feeling of compassion came over me rather than fear, anger and hurt. I had discovered I had let their pain go! I believe the deeper I became in my present moment, the now, the deeper my inner peace got and the easier it was for me to not react when confronted with their energetic hostility. I really understood that the feelings get lighter when you realize toxic people are simply suffering.
So if you work with a toxic colleague, clients or in an environment where people are, just be mindful that they are wounded and suffering. If you can see that they are the ones trying to pass their suffering onto you, then it becomes easier to let go of anger and resentment and just have compassion for them. I have days where I do really well and someday where my own suffering gets in the way. That is good though because it shows me I have more work to do through my spiritual practices.

The Buddhist mantra for mean and very toxic people goes as such. I use it daily, I would love to gift it to you from my compassionate heart to yours.
May my enemies be well, happy, and peaceful
May no harm come to them
May no difficulties come to them
May no problems come to them
May they always meet with success
May they also have patience, courage, understanding, have determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life

Monday, November 26, 2018

A Buddhist Approach to Lies

I was lied to over the holiday and it was not a little lie either. Then again a lie is a lie. I have lost a lot over the past 6 months over people lying to me. Wait maybe I have gained a lot…Maybe I have gained more compassion and perhaps a pathway to more patience and tolerance. Still, when I discovered the lie, I was sad, but went into deep thought and yep it became my shower thought. I guess the question is why do people lie? So I decided to take a Buddhist approach. First, one must know lies hurt. When people lie, even if they think others will never find out, it create a barrier in your relationship with that person. (No Leslie did not lie to me she would never!) Lying destroys people because it takes them into a vicious cycle that is extremely difficult to get free from.

Once someone tells a lie, they usually have to lie again to cover up the first lie, and they feel even worse, if they have the ability to feel guilt. In my case, this particular person really does not feel any sort of guilt. Still, lies grow, they never stand alone, and they need more lies to support the first lie. Thus the cycle of habitual lying starts. In Buddhism this is not the path to love truthfulness and compassion, and is clearly not a karmic path I would want to follow.

Trying to understand the physical aspect of lying is important. When people lie, it stimulates three main sections of the brain. Lying activates the frontal lobe for its role in the truth-suppressing process, the limbic system due to the anxiety that comes with deception, and the temporal lobe because it's responsible for retrieving memories and creating mental imagery. Here is something else, the more you lie, the more the internal conflict of lying diminishes. People stop feeling so bad about lying. They no longer worry or feel guilty about lying. That's not so great really because if the liar no longer feels like lying is a big deal this affects their karma and their spiritual growth.

We need to have compassion because we have to understand that people lie for reasons. So why do people lie? It is hard to give just one reason. One has to look at a variety of reasons. Some people lie because telling the truth feels like giving up control. Some lie because the truth can be inconvenient. Fear seems to be the number one reason why people lie. They are afraid to upset someone, lose their job, and because they are fearful of losing the respect of those around them. They want you to like them so much they lie to get the likes. People lie to have acceptance, to get approval and attention. Sometimes they lie to be appreciated.

Unlike Christianity, there is no rule/commandment in Buddhism about lying however, the Buddha believed in order to find enlightenment, to walk in peace, we need to abstain from falsehood. In Buddhism, being truthful goes beyond simply not telling lies. It means speaking truthfully and honestly, and it also means using speech to benefit others, and not to use it to benefit only ourselves.

For me as someone who practices the philosophies of Buddhism or at least work daily on practicing, I ask myself what to do about someone who lies constantly. I get and understand we need to have compassion. Nobody likes being lied to, and the natural reaction is to call the liar out, but that’s not always the smartest thing to do. I tend to be surrounded with people who lie. I think it is a past life thing really. However, in this lifetime I get that lies can be harmful, andI try to have compassion for those who lie.

So I pretty much get that the person lying is not willing to have enlightenment, and that they are living a hurtful life to themselves and others, so when I see it in that way, and meditate and make sure I see it like that, I can have compassion and move on no matter how big the lie. I get to understand it is part of their brain structure and personality and for that compassion needs to be a must. Please remember compassion when loved ones are dishonest.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Stay In the Now

A client comes to me very upset and having severe anxiety about something. I calm her down by having her take a deep breath. I say to her;
"Where are you right now?
"In your office"
"Are you safe?"
"Think about the anxiety you had yesterday. Do you feel anxiety?"
"Think about what you just said about next week, does it make you anxious?"
"Come back to right now. You are sitting with me, in my office breathing and you feel comfortable correct?"
"Look at me, do you feel peace when you see me?"
"So why do you make a choice to go to the future?"
"I don't know I just do it."
"What if you just didn't do it?"
"That would be hard."
"Is it because you said so."
"Yeah I guess so."
"Is it because you automatically go there?"
"I did not think of that but yeah."
"Good, you just won half the battle."
"What's the other half?"
"Stay in the now!"
Did you know that 95% subconscious mind is on autopilot? We do almost everything by habit and unconscious habit at that. How do we break that? Recognizing it is part of the battle, the other part, simple, be present. By staying in the now, being mindful,  we are creating a healthy habit. When we bounce over to the future or roll back onto the past we start a habit. Practicing how to stay present in the now is just creating a new habit. Of course it is easier said than done. The quickest way to get you to pay attention to the now is to simply breathe and pay attention to your breath. The wonderful thing about breathing is it will always lead you home to the now.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Walk in Peace

My tag-line on my radio show is walk in peace. In fact, it is on all my business cards and my work logo. I love what peace symbolizes and the history of it. People ask me what I mean by walking in peace and more important, how I found that peace.
First of all, when I talk about walking in peace I am referring to walking in a conscious balanced state of mind. That means awake and present. To be able to feel a sense of calmness and stability in all that you do. You feel balanced with your relationship with your loved ones as well as your work, your play, your belief systems, your higher power, and most importantly with yourself.
It is important to realize that peace requires a little work on our end. The first thing to understand is that you can’t always choose what happens to you, but you can always choose how you feel about it and what you do about it. You don’t have to be defined by the things you did or didn’t do, that is just regret and I don’t know about you, but I try to live my life with no regrets. So one way to find peace is to let go of regret and just move forward with peace in your heart and soul.
Staying in the now, which is this very moment, is the most direct pathway to walking in peace. The Buddha tells us that life is available, but only in the present moment. It is in the here and the now where we can take our first steps towards peace. If we are to walk in peace we have to remember that we have an appointment with life. The time of that appointment is not in the past nor will you find it on your schedule for the future. Your appointment is now!
Walking in peace means we accept pain in our life. Pain is inevitable; pain is a part of life, and life’s pain comes in a variety of ways: death, loss, break ups, upsets, and injury. If you accept pain is part of life, you enter a painful situation with peace. You know the pain is temporary and you will get to where you need to be if you have peace in tow with you. If you stop yourself from walking in anger, fear and resentment, you will discover that you are simply walking in the present and that will direct you to peace. It takes practice and stability to walk in the peace. We need time, patience and healing to create the transformation of walking in peace. We should not be attached to the energy of what causes us harm.
What if you chose to mindfully walk in the now? Take a second and go there with me right now. Sit down, and take a deep breath. Look around you. Where are you? I am sitting at my desk in front of my computer. There is no one around. The sun just came up, the air is fresh because of a rain a few hours ago. I can hear the chickens squawking, which means they are laying eggs. There is no one in front of me nor in back of me and right now in this current second, I’m safe. People who have caused me harm in the past are not around me and because I am sitting and calm, physical pain is not bothering me. I feel peace as I focus on my breath and the stillness around me. When I am mindful and I practice this exercise, I am able to walk in such a way that peace fills my body. It takes over every cell of my entire being. Every breath I take reminds me I am safe, and I am in the here and now, and I am well and once I get this and create a habit, I’m able to walk in peace.