While it  can seem nice, to mutter and moan openly about things one doesn’t like, there’s a catch to living in a free country and being able to say what you think. That catch being that merely complaining about something, without doing anything constructive about it, makes you a conspirator in what you are complaining about.

In short: being negative about the world you live in, generates negative energy in return.
Let me try and explain this with an example.

Suppose someone in traffic for instance lifts the middle finger at you, and you, getting angry , lift the middle finger in return. What you’re left with is two people lifting middle fingers at each other, NOT making a pretty picture in the middle of traffic.
So what can you do to change that situation?

You could smile for one.  I’ve noticed it takes people completely of guard. By reacting the opposite way of how they feel, you take away their leading role in the situation.
A friendly wave is a very effective tool in that context as well.

Now, you perhaps think I must be getting a lot of middle fingers raised at me when I’m so knowledgeable about the subject,  but here’s the interesting thing;
Ever since I began to understand that getting angry in return only creates more adversity, I hardly have any problems in traffic, or in other situations for that matter, for I’ve learned to turn away from the source of my anxiety.

There’s this ancient wisdom in the legend of the Archangel Michael fighting the Dragon. While he effectively fights the dragon, he doesnt look him in the eye while he fights him. The dragon’s anger does not become Michael’s anger. Michael fights the Dragon but doesn’t merge with its state of mind.  Instead, he stands above it.  That is a piece of wisdom with huge consequences, not to be drawn into the negativity somebody else is trying to impose on you, resisting the temptation to be drawn into other peoples feelings. It’s a challenge, but possible.

Test it once when a friend blames you for something you think differently about or when a relative, boss or teacher showers you in reproach; ask yourself: “Is this what I want to be part of?”

I predict that even merely becoming conscious of the fact you’re being lured into the story line of somebody else, will summon up a smile.

Ingrid Schippers 8 March 2016

This blog is recorded as weekly end-note of Dutchbuzz.nl, the radio program for internationals, every Tuesday on The Hague FM from 10 to 11 pm. All programs are archived at Dutchbuzz.nl.