Cynicism, irony, causticity, gossip… they are all not exactly the same, but they are all somewhere nearby. This month, I am engaged in the prevention (as well as treatment) of thoughts and feelings, and I think a lot about how bad words and evil thoughts pervade our lives, sometimes remaining unnoticed, or even being elevated to the rank of valor.
Here is self-irony – is that wonderful, sort of? And an ironic attitude towards others is kind of not very good, right? And cynicism? It helps to separate the wheat from the chaff, helps not to be deceived, and it also interferes with noticing the good and collecting it bit by bit, and that also offends people, for example. What about wit? When does it overstep boundaries and become violent? What about gossip? Is it just an exchange of news and opinions and, in general, “a little even useful” or more often it is a spiteful, envious and unproductive way to spend your and other people’s time?
I have a long personal history of cynicism and acrimony. I still remember a conversation with my mother that I had when I was 7 years old and which really set the vector for my behavior and attitude towards people for many years. I went to first or second grade and was not the most popular child – I studied well, grabbed everything on the fly, did not really like to give cheats to idlers (only those who studied well and just accidentally got into a difficult situation, I gave them), in general, relationships did not add up to all. And sometimes they said some unpleasant, childishly evil words to me, and also threw pieces of paper and something there is still not the cutest of the arsenal of schoolchildren.
I shared my experiences with my mother, and my mother, the kindest, most tender person, as well as a divorced woman, who raised me the most difficult preschool years alone, while working, living separately from my parents and trying to be independent in everything and protect herself, said: “Why are you silent in response? After all, you can hit with a word much more painful than with your fists.” And she gave me a couple of sharp answers for my offenders as an example.
Lesson learned, as they say. Seven-year-old girl learned a five-plus lesson, like most lessons of that time. Those words laid on fertile ground. And away we go. I enjoyed how caustically I can respond and how painful it is to pry. And many became afraid of getting caught on my tongue. I wasn’t rude, I wasn’t rude, I sniped at the sore spots, and, apparently, I succeeded. The enemies crawled away and rarely crawled again. Probably, it will be superfluous to add that I had no more friends, although, in fairness, not everyone got my bile, and, of course, I also had close people, but, of course, there were not many of them.
When I was already over 20, many friends turned to me with questions, what to answer in some difficult dialogues and situations, how to “shake off” the offender, how to put him in his place – such was my reputation. This is how I lived – defending myself at the behest of my mother, even when there was no need to defend myself, biting reflexively so as not to bite me.
It is very difficult for these patterns to break in my head, but at some point, I began to think more about expediency and the “trace” that I leave in society, for example. Then I began to bite my tongue more often, and the ability to see weaknesses, apparently, tried to process into criticism, which seemed to me a constructive and kind gesture, as opposed to just humiliation. I have already written a lot about this. In general, I went through a period of “hard truth” and “absolute honesty with those who are important to me.” I’m trying to get out of all this and shift the focus to good, positive and worthy development.
You know, there is such an experiment, I do not remember who conducted it, but the point was that people who learned to speak in public read their speeches in front of the group, and the group noted the advantages and did not criticize at all. Then they repeated the speech, taking into account the feedback, and each time their speech became better, the accents moved by themselves to the right places, and the deficiencies were corrected.
I’m not sure if this is a 100% recipe for success for any person in the world. Some of us are ready to take feedback with any sign and even with any intention to work and use it as a resource for growth. But I’m also not sure that criticism is not just another mask of anger and bile. What can we say about undisguised anger? It seems to me that such conversations are highly toxic, and to maintain them is to steal from yourself.
In most of us, at the level of reflexes, it is laid down to discuss and gossip – this is how we explore the world; this is how we “check our watches” with friends and new acquaintances, checking whether our ideas about good and evil agree. But what makes us spend hours, days and years selflessly discussing others in search of the dubious truth about the real state of affairs in life and the head of someone other than ourselves?
As if on purpose, lately, discussions of different people have begun to catch my eye more and more often. I even managed to overhear a couple of New York gossip at the adjacent cafe tables. Some of the characters under discussion are clearly closer to me than the ones who are discussing, someone I do not know at all. But this does not change the essence at all. Regardless of whether I agree with the voiced opinions or not, I see only one thing in this: a monstrous waste of time and energy on grinding something that has nothing to do with you and does not affect you in any way, except to poison you from the inside.
And no matter how people revel in funny and precise formulations, funny and prickly jokes addressed to others and how accurately they noticed something and how skillfully put their observations into words, at this time their own life stands still, and their soul rotting a little more. It doesn’t matter if it is said to your face, over tea with a girlfriend or in a secret corner on the Internet, is it worth stealing time from your own life without bringing anything tangible and worthwhile into the real world?
In general, following my own intention to see and pedal the pluses, I admit that these people still do something good – every time, wanting to open their mouths or even just move their brain a little towards other people’s supposedly shortcomings and punctures, I imagine this croaking, witty swamp of gossips and I see myself timidly jumping from bump to bump. And the mouth somehow closes itself, and thoughts are happily redirected somewhere else, more creative side. I believe that it does not affect me alone.
Well, and most importantly – if we are not kind to others, if we do not know how to be merciful, if we don’t want to understand or we cannot retreat from what we cannot understand, how we will be kind to ourselves, how we will forgive ourselves for our own imperfection, about which we know much better than the imperfection of others?
How will others be kind to us? Should we expect more generosity from them than what we ourselves are capable of? Can we seriously expect that in exchange for our malice we will receive good? It happens, of course, and this, but it also happens vice versa. But for some reason I want to believe in “higher mathematics”, in the law of karma, if you like, in the fact that sooner or later everything will fall into place.
But even if it doesn’t work, it’s more pleasant for me to live with the knowledge that I am open to the world and do not do harm, at least on purpose. It’s a long journey without end, and every day I start by refreshing new attitudes in my memory, and then time after time I break into the usual movements. But this is part of the process that generates such reflections, for example, and this is also a blessing.
These are the interim thoughts for this month. And what about your “toxic” type of thinking? And yet, if someone got to the end of the post, please advise books or blogs that support in you a kind and conscious attitude towards the world and people. I would like to read something new and purifying consciousness.