I had the most uncomfortable dinner one Saturday night. I was meeting friends for dinner at the Knickerbocker restaurant on 9th and University in NYC. One of those friends is a 60-year old psychologist with quite an established practice in the city.
We were talking about a recent positive event in my life and for whatever reason he felt protective and didn’t want me to be too excited or happy. He started to psychoanalyze me, knowing some of my psychology, warning me of possible problems that could occur, playing Devil’s advocate, and questioning the validity of my hopes and wishes.
I started shrinking down into my chair.
As soon as I felt the light being sucked out of me, I told myself to not allow it to go out and contain it. I charged up my heart. I imagined a bright globe of sun filling me and replacing whatever had already leaked out.
Although this friend was crossing many of my boundaries, I was also aware that his husband had cancer and was dying. This was the first time he had left his home, where he had been tending for his sick partner, in weeks and he was frightened, tired and grieving.
I knew that much of what he was saying to me had nothing to do with me but his own fears that something catastrophic was looming and, because he was suffering, it was too hard for him to celebrate another’s happiness.
The work is to not take it personally.
I decided that rather than get angry at him or get up and leave, possibly making him feel abandoned, which was actually his fear in the first place, I’d send him love and compassion.
I’m not saying I wasn’t pissed. I was. I felt my anxiety rise up. Part of me starting getting caught up in his negativity, thinking maybe some of the things he was saying to me were true and for a moment I started questioning myself.
What’s necessary is to trust ourselves, not giving our power away to someone else.
I knew that whatever he was triggering in me was mine to shift myself. If he was hitting up against some of my own fears then my job was to send that fear the same love and compassion to myself that I was offering to him.
Another friend who was with us interrupted him and told him to stop. She felt the need to stand up for me. But I didn’t need her to.
I remained silent. I listened as best as I could. I stayed present. I actually forced a light smile, to create a sense of lightness to the heaviness that was overwhelming the table.
I allowed the toxic and negative energy to deflect in the light I was invoking. Rather than run, push away, or fight it, I opened my heart. Again, it wasn’t about me.
Matching negativity only increases our suffering.
The opportunity is to use each interaction, even if it’s toxic, as an opportunity to rise up our heart—not just for another but for ourselves. To use every negative situation as a continuous way to cultivate more understanding, love and compassion.
I’m no angel, that’s for damn sure. But it felt good to try to bring some kindness to a situation that could have turned out to be far worse.
Wishing you light, love, positivity and good vibes!