I have lately been suffering from a bunch of negativity. One thing I have learned from some of the more kindly Buddhist writers is that we can and must choose what we pay attention to. This includes the thoughts in our mind. Thich Nhat Hanh says that we should water our seeds carefully – the seeds of good crops get water, but the seeds of weeds should be left to dry out.
So my mind is full of weeds. It’s actually a good thing that I’m noticing this in fact. I’m sure I went along for years with grumbly complaining negative thoughts in my mind without noticing this.
A chief thing I mentally gripe about is other people. I often feel angry about my past, especially my childhood and young adulthood, and find myself mentally lambasting my mother or my father. Lately my mother is coming in for a good dose of mental calling to account.
On the one hand, it’s good to give an account to ourselves of our past, and realize some of the bad things that happened and our feelings about that. Bad things happened to me, and my parents were of no help. In fact, they set the scene where these things could happen, and provided a family culture where nothing could be expressed. Some damage they did to me on their own steam.
On the other hand, continually raging and griping internally about the past does no one any good. Especially me. I know that continual negative chatter takes my energy and darkens my outlook. Allowing it to go on also encourages more of the same.
From thoughts about my mother, I then move on to a friendship that is going badly. I recall all the negative aspects of this friend, the mean things she’s said to me, our many differences. I’ve been debating whether to call her, as she is going through a tough time right now, but I don’t call. And I go over my grudges in my mind again.
Before I know it, everyone in my life, past and present, who ever hurt me, is present in my mind and I’m mentally telling them where to go.
Ack! Enough. I need to stop doing this. One way is to recall the positive and dwell on that. For instance, my mother did provide me with a home, cooked many very good meals, tried to be a peacekeeper, and passed on her love of reading to me. Reading has stood me in very good stead in rough times as a way to escape and to change perspective.
My friend does have good qualities and we did spend many interesting times together, doing arty type things and discussing books, films and politics.
Almost anyone can be looked at in a positive light. Why should I clutter up my mind with the negative? I have a pre-disposition for doing that, as you may have discovered by following my blog. I analyze and tear things apart. There is a place for that, but I don’t want that to be the main part of my life.
The practice of watering the good seeds is a little tricky of course. Blindly suppressing the dark side of life is not a good thing to do. But Thich Nhat Hanh does not say to stomp out the weeds, to exterminate them with weed killer. No, they are allowed to be. But we do not water them, we do not encourage them to thrive and choke out the good.
That has been my philosophizing lately. I hate to be stuck in negative ruminations. I want and need to think about the good side of people and not the dark one. They’re both there. I want to acknowledge the dark but encourage the light.