I love this quote. This is a great reminder that we cannot control the actions of others, that we cannot make an unreasonable person become reasonable all of a sudden and we cannot make other people perceive the world in the way that we perceive it. Ultimately we can only control ourselves and how we react to the situations we face in our lives.
Unfortunately there are always going to be people who like to drain the energy of others, these are usually unhappy people who seek to project their own unhappiness onto those around them, particularly onto happy people, and this can manifest through unkind words or unkind behaviour towards other souls going about their own lives.
Alas, we cannot change other people. We either accept them as they are, remove ourselves from their presence (as much as possible) or realise the truth that we are in complete control of how we react to other people or situations. That nobody can make us feel anything (emotionally-speaking), that we are always in control of how we respond emotionally to any given situation. Not easy to do, of course, but entirely within the realms of possibility.
When someone tries to disturb your peace you will notice that your mind starts working overtime – replaying the unfortunate scenario over and over in your mind, recreating the scenario where perhaps you react in a different way and maybe even rehearsing future scenarios with the same person. Either way you begin to let your mind take over and by continuing to identify with and mull over a painful situation we allow the pain and accompanying painful emotions to persist.
Eckhart Tolle in his (amazing) book The Power of Now says “emotion is the body’s reaction to the mind” and this is so true. What we create in our minds we then feel in our bodies as emotion. So surely it stands to reason that if we were able to “reset” our minds, then we would be able to “reset” our emotions too.
I am just really reflecting on this idea, not offering concrete solutions. I strive to keep my world peaceful by keeping a calm inner and outer world and a calm mind and body. However, when I feel someone has disturbed my peace although my first reaction is to feel anger, annoyance, irritation and all these negative emotions which then proceeds to disturb my peace even further, I then realise I can decide how I react to that person and to their behaviour. They are not making me feel angry, annoyed or irritated, I am allowing their behaviour to affect me negatively and I am letting the anger, annoyance and irritation created in my mind to be felt in my body as an emotion. What if I consciously choose not to feel these negative emotions by gaining control of my mind first? What if the “calm” voice in my head says “I will not allow you to disturb my inner peace”, “I will not allow you to drain my energy”, “I will not allow you to project your negativity and the fact that you are in a negative place onto me”? How empowering to be able to react in this way.
But how can we achieve this?
I don’t claim to react in such a controlled way to every situation I can’t control but I strive to achieve this because I know this is the only way to preserve my sanity and the peaceful state of mind I work so hard to achieve. I believe that a meditation practice where we learn and practice to “control” our minds and gain mastery over our ever-wandering thoughts is a good place to start. In addition to giving us time for peace and time to still the mind, eventually we learn to block out the distracting thoughts that pop up continuously while we are trying to meditate and we learn to come back, for example, to the breath, to the body or to a mantra. In the same way, we can learn – through practice – to block out the distracting thoughts we have in daily life and continuously return to a positive affirmation, something that uplifts us and sets the mind back on a positive path. An affirmation such as the one above: “I will not let the behaviour of others destroy my inner peace”. This is still very much a work in progress for me but the secret is to keep trying, notice the situations in which your mind takes you somewhere negative and keep bringing it back to a positive place. In time it will become second nature to think positive thoughts over negative ones and no-one will be able to make us feel anything we don’t choose to.