Tuesday, September 13, 2005

"So many talk about the purification of heart, and so few really know what it is. "
Hazrat Inayat Khan

In the early 80’s Majida and I lived on 14th St and 2nd Ave in Manhattan. At that time 14th St had not yet been given the face lift it subsequently received later in the decade so the native life was colorful to say the least. Never the less, most mornings I would venture forth to buy a Times. One morning I returned, spread the Times on the kitchen table and glanced at the front page while putting some bread in the toaster. I did a genuine double take and looked at the front page closer. For the first time in my memory of numberless front pages of countless newspapers, from cities all over the world, every single headline was positive, said something nice or talked about something pleasant. I was stunned, well not stunned exactly, charmed would be a better word. Ever since, which would be for the last 25 years, I have looked for a similar front page mostly in the Times but in other papers as well but it never happened again. In fact the opposite is much more likely, front pages full of horrible events, with nary a pleasant headline to be seen. Why is this?
One reason I suppose is to believe that nothing nice ever does happen. I suspect that lots of people think that way, about themselves and about the world. It is very common to meet someone you know and to listen to them launch into a litany of their ills. Often this will be a long list of resentments or disappointments. In fact you may find yourself agreeing and supplying your own list. Then you can compete to see whose list is the most potent. Or, you can complain about the current state of the government, its many short comings and what you think would make things better, though probably things will not get better because someone will interfere.
I think we can all recognize ourselves here. I am certainly as prone to this sort of response as anyone. For the free-thinker, the question then becomes what to do about it. My solution tends to be noticing. I endeavor to notice when I am supporting my negative responses and see if I can redirect my thoughts. Often this is a big struggle because all of those around me are not doing this. For instance I happened to say to someone the other day that I thought that Geo. Bush was probably sincere in his version of Christianity and did try to be as genuine as possible. This someone refused to accept that anything nice could be said about Mr. Bush and proceeded to prove to me with various allegations that it was all an act. I kept quiet and let her rant. There was no point but I did file it away as another example of the need to see all as awful, especially to demonize someone who has become the archetype of what we feel is wrong with everything.
I am very curious to know what others think about the above. Do you notice when you get caught up in resentment and disappointment? If so, what do you do about it?
I am looking forward to your comments.
Love & Blessings, Musawwir


molly said...

Dear Musawwir,

It looks as though you have a few thoughts in your essay. The idea that the media publishes mostly negative headlines seems true. my opinion is that media knows that drama sells. they want to provide the biggest emotional jolt for more papers to sell.

The thought that Bush is authentic or not seems secondary to the issue that the woman wasn't open to hearing anything neutral or positive. Most people seem to base their opinions on media and what other people say, not forming their own opinions based upon personal accounts.

When i get caught up in resentment and disappointment, which has happened to me recently, i really try to delve deeply into that emotion. Why suppress it? I want to learn as much as i can about why i feel that way. I want to take responsibility for all of my emotions. when i was growning up, anger, resentment, disappointment, hate, etc. weren't considered "nice" emotions, and expressing them is frowned upon. My belief is that continual suppression can lead to disease. I am learning how to express them in a safe, healthy way. How can i own love, bliss, and other strong emotions if i can't own some of the other strong ones as well? To me, that's the journey of becoming whole and authentic.

Noor Allah said...

Dear One,
What a great inquiry! When I feel resentment and disappointment, I look at first how I am reacting beneath that -- the layer of withdrawal of feeling, and thought from that person OR the possible lashing out in an outburst of anger or criticism. Once I get past all these fireworks to assess the source of the resentment and disappointment, I usually see, bottomline, that my expectations or desires or needs are not being met. I either talk with the person to ascertain if my wants can be met, and if not, inquire of myself if I can lovingly or at the least peacefully, resign myself to accepting the situation as is -- letting go of my want being satisfied the way I think this person or organization should satisfy it. I also look to see what actions I and/or they might be able to take to resolve the inharmony. Love, NoorAllah

Love you,

Els said...

What if there were no resentment and disappointment ... how would we be able to grow? To be honest, how boring would that be? There are always reasons to burst out into some kind of deep anger or to make a drama. And then you wonder why it happened, what triggered this situation. I've noticed that sometimes it is healthy to let it all out, other times I notice fast enough that my behavior isn't really going anywhere. The thing is, I always try to keep a smile on my face and see the absurdity of it all, because in the end, everything is going to be alright.

Beatrix Kiddo said...

Angst & Griping. Could we exist without them? Imprisoning all the days bumps in the road withing our psyche with no venting from time to time could lead to an explosion of frustration fueled distructive actions. Instead we let off steam, get it all out. Kind of like purging the bad stuff from our healthy mind.
Ofcourse to wallow like a pig in the mudbath selfpity cannot lead to anything positive. A happy medium is the goal in this daily dilema. Go ahead , expel all of today's woe's while keeping a reign on over-reaction to small stuff and keep the chains tight on that drama queen role we all can so easily find ourselves becoming.
Volcano's vent a little here and there this keeps the top from blowing off destroying istelf and all around it.

majida said...

Such an interesting question and responses!
This morning I've been examining resentment as a habit. So, I've embarked on an experiment to examine and change all my habits, where possible. Shifting little habits, regardless of how small, may lead me to tackle the bigger ones like resentments or any habitual negative response. I'll let you know how it goes. So, far I've had to be very aware and careful not to have automatic responses to anything.

molly said...

your response is cool.
i had to look at that myself. i became aware that my habitual response to my kids was to say, "no". wow. since i have become aware of that, things are shifting slowly. it's not easy to change some habits...but it can be done. awareness seems to be the first step.

Shakti said...

My whole life was once caught up in both resentment and disappointment. I sometimes journey back to the person I once was or thought I was and work on certain parts bit by bit. I am constantly learning from day to day who I am and boy do I like me. :)
I use to allow myself to become very hurt in life situations, if someone didnt smile at me I had to find out why and always had to be the fixer upper when a problem occurred, mind you it would work for so long then things fired up again.

I battled with myself for the past 2 years wondering just why I would become disappointed in others for their lack of understanding in me, then resentment kicked in full force for them not allowing me to be me. I've learned a BIG lesson, it wasnt them that was lacking, it was me. As I learned to slowly shift my thoughts towards myself things gently eased into place on my knowlegde of others.

Struggles today and tomorrow, laughter now and later, thats the way life goes, etc, etc. It's all in how we see out with the eye's we are given. When I was going through a major shift in my life not long ago I would find myself very sad whenever I was around others that were laughing and such, for I was disappointed in the laughter I knew was merely a struggle and showed the mask they hid behind. I hung with such people that struggled more than I could count and being the person I am I became attached to their pain. Now I can understand their pain and go on from there, with whatever I feel needs to be done with myself and if they ask for my help I sigh silently and carefully listen as we both learn something new.
Jumping over fences is a pass time I gave up, instead I gaze over the fields of beauty and watch where they take me. Thats the strength I have for not allowing myself to get caught up in the resentment and disappointment.

Go In Love~ Shakti

Sarala said...

Dear Musawwir and all,

My response to the negativity and the manipulation of various sources of 'news' is to avoid them as much as possible, to isolate myself from their influence. No newspapers, no TV news, and altho I subscribe to a number of special interest e-letters, I mostly delete them without reading them. It feels as tho daily interaction with individuals is the only true forum for change and influence for me right now. Politics, corporacracy, corruption, seem out of reach. Sometimes people see this as a 'holier than thou' attitude but isn't it really just escapism? Candide.

Even so I experience the resentment and disappointment you speak of. Living in center city Philadelphia, I feel bombarded by anger, territorialism, violence, selfishness, by simply riding my bicycle down the street or going grocery shopping. I try to "notice" and intellectualize that I 'should' be identifying with the heart in these actors, but I rarely get beyond the self-scolding to truly feel it. I rationalize that my feelings are a direct result of what I experience in this city. I find it's easier to talk about it than to do it and much easier to apply it to headlines that are beyond my personal reach than to my day to day experience, where, right now, I feel I could make a difference.
So a direct answer to your question, Musawwir, yes I notice... what do I do about it? I haven't come to a satisfactory resolution.

Nurelhuda said...

I have learnt to voice out my resentments in the home and I think I now try to put it positively.As for politicians, I always take them with a pinch of salt and indeed I know they all think they re right , which makes them sincere over the *good* that they think they are doing.As it says in the Quran , with people who make a mess of the World etc, you ask them , why are you destroying and making a mess of things..and they reply, why we are doing a lot of good here...
Point taken though, I will be present to my negative thoughts and resentments even more from now..

Nurelhuda said...

PS: There is another point I wanted to add. I do not like to read grouses about the government but I realise that there need to be people who have the stomach to dig out the dirt and set things right.Resentments are symptoms of a problem and rather than trying not to have them, I think a better way would be to ask why am I resentful over this ? And in answering the why questions we get to the bottom of the whole matter. For example, I have a workstation but my children will use my workstation when they are home and sometimes this means I cannot do my work . Patience would be a good thing but then I realise also I like to work when my mood to work is there and my inspirations will disappear when I do not get to do those things. I had let myself seeth over this for ages, causing a lot of tension in my family with my constant nagging and then finally I announced I wanted a workstation in my bedroom and I found everybody jumping to help me set up one..since I do have more than one computer and I was going to leave one for the family ..they already have one other one...but since I have 5 children ....that was not enough...