So far we’ve learned that life is like a flower garden, and we are the one’s who plant the seeds. We either unconsciously let the garden get overrun with weeds of dissatisfaction or we can consciously take control of our garden, planting beautiful flowers of happiness. We’ve practiced changing the way we respond to life and gained awareness of how our thoughts and attention can be used as a tool for creating a life of joy and peace.
The next step involves exploring the concept that everyone has their own separate flower garden. Each garden is as personal as the person who tends it. Not everyone’s garden will be a floral work of art. As a matter of fact, most people’s gardens are filled with weeds of unhappiness, choking the life out of a few happy moments in their life..
One of the most challenging aspects of owning a garden is keeping out the weeds. When people who have neglected their garden interact with others, they spread their weeds. This is not intentional. This is never personal. They are not trying to ruin your happy state of being. They aren’t even aware that they have a garden, or that they should pay attention to it. They believe that life is filled with unhappy events, that some days are good and some days are bad, and that they have no control over any of it. They have learned to focus on the unhappy events and to share them repeatedly throughout the day.
You can’t change people. Their weeds have been building up over a lifetime and actually the only one who is capable of weeding is the one who owns the garden. Even though you can’t change people you can change how you respond to them. When someone is taking their frustrations out on you, Instead of re-acting, being upset yourself, you can choose to act with awareness. Your response may be to just ignore the comment, it might be to respond in a positive way, or it might be just telling them you don’t want to hear about it. Take a moment to have compassion on them, because they are filled with unhappiness in that moment. See them for what they are; unhappy people just letting off steam. It’s never personal.
When people say negative things to you, you can make sure they don’t take root in your garden. To do this you have to realize that what people say and do are a result of their own state mind at the time. It actually doesn’t have anything to do with you. It’s never personal. When people complain about life they are just expressing their unhappy thoughts that have built up. The unhappy thoughts germinate into unhappy moods. All the negative thoughts create negative energy that needs to be discharged. If we realize that what they are saying isn’t personal, it is just a result of a garden filled with unhappy weeds, then you will see that what they say has nothing to do with you. It is no more personal than if your neighbor's dandelion seeds spread onto your lawn at home.
It is very important not to let those weeds germinate in your garden. You won’t be able to keep the weeds from spreading to your garden if you allow them to take seed. The first step is to be aware when the weeds are blowing your way. Once you notice them, you will be able to change the flow of the wind so that they just fly past your garden.
So what are these weeds that people blow our way every day? It’s all the negative things people say to you. It’s listening to their complaints. It’s when your spouse snaps at you because he can’t find his keys. It’s your boss yelling at you because she’s in a bad mood. It’s the guy who just cut you off in traffic and then beeped at you like it was your fault. It’s your Mom when she comes home in a bad mood and starts in on you because your homework isn’t done. It’s all the negatively charged emotions that are verbalized at you all day.
Everyone has their own garden, some are full of the weeds of stress and unhappiness. Don’t let other people’s weeds take root in your garden!
This week bring your attention to your interactions with people. If they try to spread their unhappiness with you, respond with awareness instead of re-act. Take a breathe, and bring your full attention on remaining calm. When you see the weeds blowing your way, see them for what they are. Remind yourself that it isn’t personal. They are just expressing their unhappiness. Keep your focus on having compassion for them, because they are suffering from their own bad mood. Let those weeds fly right by your beautiful flower garden, and go about your day as if it never happened.
If you find yourself becoming upset, and repeating the negative interaction over and over in your mind, then the weed has taken root. It’s not too late. When you notice that your mind is dwelling on negative thoughts, the sooner you stop it the easier it will be to uproot. Gently bring your attention back to the present moment. Take a deep breath and pay attention to where you are now, what you are doing now. Bring your full attention to whatever you are doing in the moment. Each time the negative train of thought comes to mind, don't pay attention to it. Let it flow right through. Do not jump on any train of thought that will bring you to an unhappy destination. The more you practice this, the easier it will be to let the thoughts flow with out getting your attention hooked. Again, don't judge your efforts. It took a lifetime to build the habit of jumping on every train of thought without question. It will take some time to break the habit. Every tiny bit of awareness that you bring to this endeavor will pay off.