Ouch! Deflecting Negativity & Throw Away Comments. ~ Kate Southward

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on Nov 10, 2012
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Do you know a negative-Nelly?

Most people I’ve discussed it with can attest to having some moody-Margaret in their life. The trouble I’ve had is identifying jealous-Jodie’s shit from my own shit and learning to let it go.

How often have you heard: When you react to something in somebody else, you are usually reacting to something that’s already in you? I have to admit to finding this difficult to swallow. But, after reading all of Eckharte Tolle’s books where he mentions it several hundred times, I was slowly persuaded.

This lesson is now on my drawing board and one I come back to time and time again.

Recently, I had the experience of working with a mean-Melissa: complain, rant, throw her toys, sigh and complain some more. The workplace and relationship became the Oxford dictionary definition of walking on egg shells. I allowed it to consume me—gossiping with colleagues in indirect languaging and a raised eyebrow. If only this person could be different: act appropriately, behave, grow up, listen more, be professional.

If I’m listening quietly, I’ll hear the little yogi in my mind say, Whoops! When did her shit turn in to my shit? It’s so tempting to get drawn in to the show and start playing out all those old habits—reacting out of past experiences, rather than living from the present moment, from the heart and in no judgement.

Lofty ideals? Maybe.

But, I do believe that the more we practice compassion and living from the heart—rather than the head—the less the catty-Kelly’s of the world will bring us down. There is loads of neuro-science research these days proving the health benefits of being compassionate. Science and yoga are slowly aligning.

Tapasya alert! For the next seven days, when I notice a strong aversion in a relationship, I’ll come back to myself rather than expect the other person to change. Perhaps a little tweak in attitude, or an adjustment in expectations will do the trick. Michael Jackson said, I’m starting with the man in the mirror—and that guy was usually right!

In yoga, the gurus talk about the transition to enlightenment—recognizing your self as the ocean, rather than the disjointed wave bobbing on top. I understand this in theory; I appreciate it in my heart. But, as I’m not in a constant state of euphoria, I don’t know if I quite believe it—yet.

I don’t think it’s a generalization to say that a lot of people walk around, day-to-day, under a cloud of moodiness. We have become so identified with the steady stream of thoughts in our own minds, and the hundreds of thousands of stories we tell, we have forgotten we are not our minds.

I’m a sensitive soul and I have been known to get caught up by the idlest of throwaway comments. Recently at a Mumford & Sons concert my beautiful, lovely, cheerful, sweetly-spirited flat mate Trudy made a throw away comment about my big eyes. Engrained memories of primary school bullies poking fun at my big, round, bug-like, frog-like, bird-like eyes (they seemed to have an affinity for animal similes) came rushing back and before I could be rational, I felt hurt.

I confessed to Trudy my silly secret. She was disappointed—Don’t listen to my throw away comments!  I understood what she meant, but it was still funny watching my immediate reaction to something that was so obviously deeply engrained in my tiny, little, mini-identity badge.

I employ us to observe our minds. The more we practice, the easier it gets. Let’s watch when we trail off with some story about so-and-so and the resulting impact on your mood for a day, or for god sake, sometimes years! Ultimately, our thoughts create our reality. We can speak to our mind as if it is a four year-old; ask it to play with you, make friends.

I can’t promise by practicing this all the annoying, negative, selfish, funny-bunnies of the world will go away; however, we might notice some big shifts in ourselves. 

Like the ability to recognize someone else’s shit over our shit—to giggle in the face of negativity and throw away comments, and enjoy an ever-growing self-confidence. 


Kate SouthwardNew Zealander  is the curator and founder of Yogi’s Basket, a holistic wellness  & yoga magazine inspiring access to ‘the good life’. A 500 hour Yoga Alliance accredited teacher, Kate was mentored by Australia’s Yoga Education Guru Mark Breadner. An intuitive teacher, Kate believes to overcome stress in modern day life we need to rest down and let in. Follow Kate’s wisdom at Yogi’s Basket  or Facebook or on Twitter.~Editor: Nikki Di Virgilio

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12 Responses to “Ouch! Deflecting Negativity & Throw Away Comments. ~ Kate Southward”

  1. greateacher says:

    You are right, but somehow I dont think you dealt wiht what else to do. I can change my expectations yes, but wiht a family member who consistently makes put downy comments and " well, I dont know. I hope it works out." with a tone of it won't .. what to do?/ Those kind of comments feel like a slug in the stomach.I have tried.. no comment, a slight smile, an " ok", an " well I am sur eof it. I do know" and yet and yet.. the feeling of UGH over-rides. Ideas?

  2. Kate Southward says:

    Mate! Thank you for commenting on my article 🙂 I completely understand where you are coming from, this situation has happened to me recently with a close friend who hasn't been very supportive of big changes I'm going through. It can be really hurtful. Although I still struggle with it, I am beginning to recognize other peoples shit and not get it confused with mine. People often react this way out of their own fear and insecurity, in a non patronizing way, we need to show compassion, hold the feeling of compassion close to our hearts when listening and interacting with them. I am surrounding myself with people who DO believe in what I want to do, in yoga we call this our 'sangha' – it is SO important to have good company in life. Our greatest samskaras (habits) will be around our family, because in them we invest our identity, from the earliest age. They are very strongly coloured habits/ideas!! If not THE strongest! The fastest way I can recommend to discolour samskaras is a regular meditation practice – also good reading is the Dalai Lama's Art of Happiness, which is basically a 'how to' of compassion.. Has this helped? Love Kate x

  3. greateacher says:

    yes, I do also, but it's a family member…….. I know meditation yoga etc. I hav ementioned to her about thyroid suppressing joy and energy. I get back underhanded comments. I had to stop talking to her fo rthe most part.. we dont live in same house but used to talk on phone a lot, now not. Thanks fo rgoing on with ideas. I was hoping fo r a fairy wand!

  4. lizzie says:

    Food for thought Kate!xx

  5. Foot-In-Mouth Flatmate! says:

    Hi Kate,

    Wonderfully written article as always!

    It is amazing the affect someone else’s mood can have over us, particularly when we have to work closely with them! I often find myself obsessing over what I have done to incite those moody-Margarets when in reality I cannot control what other people think and feel and can only hope to influence positivity through my own actions.

    To that end… those of us who have the dreaded foot-in-mouth disease need to apply our emotional intelligence skills far more purposefully on many occasions.

    To “know your audience” when speaking is so important as there is nothing more powerful than words (particularly those pesky throw away comments). Though, this article got me thinking about what sits in behind those comments and specifically in this case, what shapes our idea of physical beauty. We have all let our past experiences shape what we recognise as “beautiful” – big eyes are a link to childhood bullying for you whereas I associate that feature with gorgeous Disney characters and famous actresses who we buy all the fake lashes, eye liners, eye shadows, serums . . . .(I could go on and my poor bank accounts winces) to emulate. Whether said in a catty-Kelly way or without thinking, all that we say is a result of our history and everyone’s is different.

    For those times when those comments do come and go, the important thing to do is make sure we don’t hold onto them and let them turn us into a mean-Melissa. If we address those comments to get in behind them, as you did Kate, we don’t have to spend the next day, week or month “walking on egg shells”. This is a powerful skill and particularly tricky as we have to be vulnerable with other people to achieve, something that isn’t easy!

    With all that said, you know I think you are an incredibly intelligent, gorgeous and inspiring person and your beautiful sparkly eyes capture all of that!

    Maybe instead of a swear jar in our house, we can have a “throw away comments jar”; we may get another juicer out of it! 😉

    Much love!


  6. iambethanne says:

    I really love the article, especially the "throw away comments" phrase. I know I am a sensitive soul, too. Little zingers from my family especially seem to get me, so I will try thinking of their insensitive remarks as throw aways. Thanks for lots of good insight and advice in this article.

  7. Kate Southward says:

    Thanks everyone for your feedback, I really appreciate it and also reassuring to know that everyone deals with experiences like this in their lives from time to time. Isn't it funny that those that love us the most (family) are also the ones that can hurt us the most – I guess it's with them that we are our most vulnerable. I remember my teacher Mark telling a story about his guru in India who once told him "Whenever you think you're feeling particularly enlightened, go and spend a week with your family" – I can provide clear evidence of this! Haha. Much love xxx

  8. Joe Sparks says:

    Hi Kate, lot of what you talk about is early family "stuff." When we were vulnerable to these early hurts. They form the core of our hurt feelings today. We must go back to the earliest memory connected with the present day upset and feel, express, release these early upsets. This will give us a better perspective on the present situation. The only thing is, we cannot do it alone, because we were alone when we got hurt in the first place. Find someone you really like or trust who can direct you and remind you to go back and heal that little one.

  9. Kate Southward says:

    Thanks Joe! Yes I have been learning about this in my somatic therapy training this year – important stuff for anyone dealing with chakra 1 & 2 imbalances. Thank you for your kind words, I am making the journey. Love Kate xx

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