Practice What You Preach

March 21, 2018

I have the “preach” part down. I talk a lot about what I’ve learned and how I’ve overcome things. Every day lately seems to be a test. A test of patience, of resilience and of will. It’s not that I’ve been failing these tests, it’s more in the age-old school-report-style-observation “Laura could try harder.” I wrote in Anger x Action = Peace about what to do if we’re made angry by people in our lives. My advice was to:

“Love and trust more than ever.”

Great, but I’ve been finding it difficult to follow in practice.

The situation I’ve been struggling with is one where I’ve been let down by someone I was once close to. This individual turned out not to be the person I thought they were or wanted them to be and that realisation and their recent behaviour towards me has been distressing. I have tried to discuss it with them and resolve it, but something is still very much wedged in the way. We’ve gone from being best friends, having spent lots of time together, supporting each other and feeling like family to barely being acquaintances. The difficulty I’m finding is that I am a very loyal and caring friend. I believe in genuine relationships based on love and respect. When I invest in people, I expect a level of investment in return and when I don’t get that, or when it stops, I feel used and I get angry.

The anger plays on my mind and I’ve ended up putting negative energy about the person into the universe. I definitely haven’t been practicing what I preach. Any time their name is mentioned I’ll roll my eyes, I’ll tell my friends about what they said and what an arsehole they are being. Instead of sticking up for them like I used to, I delight in anything negative said about them and perpetuate and reinforce the bad reputation they seem to be building for themselves. It’s not nice, it’s not the person I want to be and none of it makes me feel any better.

One of our mutual friends called me out on it the other day. I was ready to launch into a “You’ll never guess what X has done now…” rant when he stopped me and questioned what I was doing. He’s right. What’s the use of getting frustrated? How I choose to respond to this person is up to me. If my advice is to love and trust more than ever, then it should apply to everyone. The Dalai Lama advocates focussing on inner peace and treating everyone with love and compassion. He recently tweeted:

“The only factor that can give protection from the destructive effects of anger and hatred is the practice of tolerance and patience.”

So where have my tolerance and patience been? Apparently taking a holiday. Well, vacation is over. Time to get to work (and let’s be honest tolerance and patience are hard work). So I spent a bit of time thinking about why this person might be treating me badly and there are lots of rational explanations. Not least because they aren’t in a good place in their lives. They are lost and frustrated and being around me reminds them of their flaws. It’s easier for them to be around less emotionally challenging people and keep everything at a basic level, so that’s what they’re doing and it’s totally understandable.

In my 20’s I wasn’t always a nice person and I didn’t always treat my friends well. I could be pretty selfish and destructive. I’m lucky that my friends stuck by me through this difficult period. So maybe this is karma coming back to me and the test is responding with love and compassion to someone who has treated me with disregard. So, I’ve reached out to this person and offered an ear should they need it. When they declined, I didn’t take it to heart. It’s not a rejection, it’s their choice. Maybe we’ll be friends in the future, maybe we won’t. What I’ve realised is, if I send good vibes to this person, I’m not rewarding bad behaviour, I’m just not putting out negative energy, which in the long run, only damages my mental health. All I can do is love and trust more than ever and try to be compassionate. Less preach, more practise.

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