Once I started to purposefully remove myself from the people and personalities likely to create drama in my life, I saw that normal could be peaceful and that quiet was a choice.
Any daily disturbance now is generally provided by my two aggressive cats (one passive-aggressive and the other regular-aggressive). So, imagine my bewilderment recently after a talk with a neigboUr ended in him shouting commands at me as I smiled awkwardly and walked away.
I would like to use the popular phrase “not my circus, not my monkeys” but this IS my circus: I volunteered to be on my condo homeowners’ association board of directors.
Last weekend, I was enjoying a leisurely Sunday morning until I read another bullying email from this neighboUr to the board members. I noticed how I let it affect me—the feeling of frustration and the frenzy of thoughts on how I would best (kindly and honestly) reply.
I want to be brave, I want to help others, I want to resolve rather than ignore issues, and I don’t want to run away. I previously used a lot of energy avoiding confrontation and I am very aware of situations, particularly now because of my practice and taking the Bodhisattva Vow, where I need to push myself into conversations I find initially uncomfortable. It’s not always straightforward—I’m mindful not to act out of idiot compassion (like enabling unhealthy behavioUr in others) or at the expense of my own health.
I went for a walk, thinking about how to best deal with the issue and the answer became clear: do nothing. Not everyone has to like me and I don’t have to try to fix everything for everyone. I wasn’t running away or avoiding confrontation—I had tried previously to make the situation better, but the bullying continued. So I decided the thing to do THAT day, was simply nothing—nothing except wish for his happiness, see my reactive emotions as my choice, and not let it affect my day any further. I immediately felt better.
I guess sometimes no action is right action. This was an intentional decision to neither jump through the hoop nor add any fuel (even if I thought it was water) to the flames.
- Bodhisattva Vow: a formal commitment, in front of others, to aspire to be a Bodhisattva for the benefit of all sentient beings. For more info, see Chögyam Trungpa On the Meaning of the Bodhisattva Vow (source: Shambhala Sun)