I’ve had a few more signposts of late. I haven’t so much spotted them as had them march up to me and stare into my face until I could no longer fail to acknowledge their existence…
It started with a quote, a Tweet from someone I follow, one of many that flow through my life. Some pass right through tipping their hats without stopping, some fail to even register and some snag on a twig in my consciousness and refuse to wriggle free again… This was one of the latter. I don’t remember to whom it was attributed, but a few seconds of internet research soon reveals that it’s much-quoted and very popular.
But I’d never heard or noticed it before.
“You aren’t obliged to attend every fight to which you’re invited.”
It would be hard to over-emphasise the impact of such a few words. I’ve been a fighter all my life, as though my very existence depended upon my ability to defend myself against attack, and every attack needed defending. Without exception. I’ve never been one for vengeance, but defence…? Hell, yes! “Let it go?” Never. Never.
Next I was listening, as I so often do in the few, rare peaceful moments in my life, to Dr Wayne Dyer reading his book (mentioned before, I know!): Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life. Plodding slowly through the verses, I’ve reached the 60s now. Indeed, this one was the 60th. And these are the words that pulled me up mid-laundry:
“Remember, it’s impossible to pick a fight with someone who refuses to fight! So your refusal to enter into battle is your most potent weapon against evil. You can change an angry person’s attempt to inflict harm by refusing to lower yourself to the level of their abusive thinking. From an enraged motorist’s curse, to the harsh words of a disgruntled clerk or upset family member, these outbursts are easily shifted when you stay centred inwardly. Become immune to such harmful thinking and action by knowing that none of this is about you…“
This, of course, ties in pretty neatly with the idea: “What you think of me is none of my business”. Again, such a simple concept but so powerful when you let it sink in, that the weight lifting from your shoulders, the anguish invested in someone else’s thinking leaving your sphere of concern, is pretty much palpable.
Then, in the 62nd verse, with my hands in the sink 🙂 I found I had stopped again. This time I was pulled up by the following words:
“Take Lao-tzu up on his advice for dealing with those who appear to be wicked people by mentally separating the individuals from their toxic behaviour. Remember that they […] simply believe that ego should control life. […] picture them as innocent children who are overstimulated by ego’s temporary stronghold.“
Nietzsche said “There is no such thing as conscious evil”. I tend to agree. Just lost souls who are terrified of being wrong, who have invested everything, including their own integrity, in being right. But if we do manage to see them as overstimulated, ego-invested children, doesn’t that bring a new perspective of hope? Every new moment, every new day brings a new possibility for humility, the dissipation of anger, the understanding that it is not about me, because without us, there is no ‘me’…!
Children learn. They grow. They throw their toys out of the pram. They test boundaries. And healthy boundaries are vitally important.
Don’t accept toxicity in your life, but don’t condemn the carrier.
Never give up hope, sure, but remember: everything happens for a reason. And this is all a part of the journey. 🙂