Zen Sneak Thieves – Negativity

The Double-Headed Zen Crook

It may seem contradictory, a person with a blog titled ‘Zen anything’ admitting to a negative personality, but it’s far more widespread than one might think. Individuals who wake up every morning with a half-full glass of water don’t need to find their Zen. They already have it. They probably can’t articulate to you how they are so Zen because they just are. They’re the people who tell you, “C’mon, don’t be upset, everything will be okay,” when you’re a hot melted mess on the floor.

And then you ask them, “How?”

“Because everything works out for the best in the end,” they’ll answer spitting rainbows at your black tar blanket of gloom.

People like them don’t need mantras and meditations and affirmations for being happy and calm. No, the people who need to find their Zen are the people who meltdown over any of life’s upsets. They’re the doomsday people who think the worst is always bound to happen. The often carry self-doubt, have low self-esteem, or worse, they are self-loathing.

You know who I’m talking about. They’re running late to work and they panic because they believe they’re going to be fired. The car doesn’t start, and they’re crying over the cost to replace the engine before they’ve checked the battery. If you don’t answer their text right away, they call within minutes frantic over why you’re ignoring them.

Maybe this is you?

It used to be me. And sometimes, when life is hectic, and the Zen thieves sneak their way into my life, it still is.

People like us do need our mantras and meditations and affirmations, and I turn to them often nowadays. Plus I have all the lessons I’ve learned from the times I stayed calm, and the sh*t didn’t end up hitting the fan. (It may have flown past and hit the wall beyond it, but more often than not, there was no spinning sh*t show.)

I’ve done a lot of work to retrain my naturally cynical mind. I gave myself a no complaining challenge. The goal was to make it twenty-one days. I tweaked my rules to make it more realistic so that if I complained I had to find a solution to the problem or else I had to start my count over. In other words, if I were in my car and I said, “I hate traffic!” In order not to lose my time, I had to follow up with a resolution, e.g., “I hate traffic, so I should leave for work earlier to avoid it or take a different route.” I told all my friends and family about the challenge and asked them to catch me if I slipped. The outcome was learning to reframe a negative thought with a positive result. I can’t control the traffic, but I can choose to leave earlier and not deal with it.

I bought the Calm app and gave myself a 21-day meditation challenge that lasted 71 days which remains my longest continuous streak. I prefer guided meditations, and Calm is full of those with relevant themes like “Self-love,” and “Loving Kindness” and programs like, “21 Days to Calm,” “7 Days to Happiness,” “7 Days of Calming Anxiety.” I have my favorites, which is the one about letting go and forgiveness.

From the app I learned many affirmations, May I be calm, May I be happy, May I be love, etc. And I invented my own, May I accept that kids suck.

And I have my mantras. Reminding myself, number 1, to accept that which cannot be changed is crucial for my inner control freak. 99% of my anxiety and stress comes from feeling helpless to fix what’s wrong. My favorite way of making a mantra for what I need to accept is to identify it as sucking. Like, how sometimes, parenting is hard because kids suck, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Or work sucks, people suck, traffic sucks, etc. but all that suckiness (the Buddha called it suffering) is a part of life and we have to accept it to move on. Or else we’re just stewing in it and that will steal your Zen, for sure.

Now that I’ve found my Zen (or at least can see it way off in the distance), I more aware when I’m around complainers. The people who are always sending their food back because the cheese was too crispy instead of being grateful for a meal many in the world would kill for. The ones who are quick to blame their spouse, friend, colleague, boss, or anyone else for their perpetual bad mood because it’s always someone else’s fault. 

I recognize the naysayers who want to tear down my ambitions because they themselves aren’t ambitious. More often than not, they failed at something in their life and either don’t believe others are capable or don’t want to see others succeed.

I’m now sensitive to judgemental tendencies of others and how easily I fall into their groove when I’m with them and not careful.

Many of these people are friends or family, and it’s become difficult to be around them without feeling sucked in. Not only does their negativity leech my good mood away, but they’re also accustomed to my camaraderie down in the naysaying judgemental pits of whiners, and when I don’t join them, it’s tense enough you need a chainsaw to cut through.

A wise friend of mine once told me, “Don’t subtract, simply add.” So rather than jump to eliminating relationships, I’ve simply spent the last few years adding in more positive people. With my positivity bolstered by others who want to drink the water they have rather than cry over what’s missing in the glass, it gets easier to protect myself against the negativity of others, and even my own.

Do you have a mantra helping you be a zen mama? Contact me if you’re interested in sharing it here on Zen Mama Mantras.

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