There is nothing worse then being attacked by someone being mean.
Being spewed at verbally, or even hurt physically by another human who doesn’t care for our well-being is one of the worst things about being human.
The truth is none of us always act kind, and this is why all of us are often the recipients of the opposite of kindness—meanness.
And I feel kinda bad about writing this trick title about getting mean people to stop being mean, because I think I might have given you the sense that there is something we can do about mean people.
And in a way there is something we can do about mean people—we can work with our own consciousness.
The hard truth each of us has to face everyday, is that the only person we can really have an influence on is ourselves.
I mean, sometimes, if we are really lucky through the loving responses we give to ourselves, people we come into contact with may be affected in a positive way, but this isn’t something we have control over, although it is one of the most beautiful things that can happen on the human journey.
A few years ago I went and spent a week at a monastery for Thai Buddhist monks. But while I was there I was dismayed to see that the monks weren’t growing any of their own food even though they lived on a big, beautiful swath of land. So, of course, I inquired.
What I was told was that the Buddha instructed monks that they could not grow or prepare their own food. This is because monks were going off into the mountains, growing their own food, and never coming back into contact with people again. The Buddha saw that this was not a good condition for spiritual development because we need have our subconscious triggered through the interaction with others. This is what pulls out all the ugly stuff hiding under there.
All the hate, revenge, jealousy, rage, shame—this is important stuff. Important stuff to find in our internal systems and clear out.
And there is nothing like the wrath of a mean person to help us find every last bit of the darkness within us.
Being around meanness is an opportunity, like everything else on the human journey. It isn’t fun, nice or comfortable but it is going to happen.
Wishing with all of our hearts that people would stop being mean and just start loving each other isn’t going to work (I know, I wish it would, too).
But really seeing meanness, seeing the ugliness of it and the sting it leaves and then not joining into it, this is a powerful choice.
Feeling the meanness in our bones.
Looking closely at how the meanness makes us wonder what is even the point to this human journey and why do we even bother to try is an amazing clarifying opportunity.
Seeing the defensiveness that comes up in us when we are exposed to meanness and watching how we want to lash back and show the perpetrators we are better then them, smarter and kinder, shows us more about our own ego than being around love and kindness ever could.
It is amazing to observe how we trash ourselves and then trash the people being mean when we get into these difficult situations.
The simple act of observing how we try to find a standpoint that feels true and real in the face of having the rug of our identity pulled out from under us by the person attacking our character, way of being, or the way we look or think teaches us so much.
Oh, the meanness can really stir us up.
And this is the gift, becoming stirred up, because then we get to practice working with being all stirred up.
Our heart breaks a little and this brings us closer to our own heart.
This is when we can make a choice to reach for compassion.
Good ol’ compassion that is always there for us, always an option.
Sometimes it is really hard to find the compassion, and we need to search hard to bring it in at a cellular level. This is a good practice.
When we search for the alignment of compassion we see that the revenge thoughts and the throwing mud back thoughts and the defensiveness thoughts have a very different feeling quality than compassion.
Seeing this difference brings us a lot of insight.
And then we find that the compassion can have a very neutral quality. We don’t need to pity the people being mean, or feel sorry for them, instead we can reach for the global love button that we all have inside of ourselves and feel the pull to send love to all sentient beings.
We can start with ourselves, and feel the pain of being treated badly, and show ourselves kindness by acknowledging that meanness hurts.
Then this acknowledgement can grow into our own willingness to set an intention to do our best not to become part of the global pain of attack and blame.
Sitting quietly helps. Letting the restlessness of anger and revenge just slip away while we sit quietly for a few minutes and settle into the sanity of the moment where a gentle, neutral compassion is available to be first embodied and then shared.
As Ms. Swift tells us, “The haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”
But perhaps instead of just shaking it off we can come closer to the pain for the purpose of coming closer to our own love.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Travis May