I was reflecting on the practice of making New Year’s resolutions, and wondered if there was one that was powerful enough to send ripples of change throughout our world, yet simple enough that everyone could manage it.
It didn’t take long for an answer to come. What if we all resolved to only speak positively about other people? What if we ceased all judgement and criticism, and viewed the negative behavior of others with some compassion, recognizing that those who behave negatively are essentially unhappy with themselves? What if we accepted that all of us are doing the best that we can given our current level of awareness, and that those who are the least pleasant to be around are the ones who require the most love and encouragement?
What if, when we had a problem with another person, we gently confronted them and asked how we could work out the problem so that we could have a good relationship, instead of getting on the telephone to report the sordid details to a co-conspirator in the gossip mill?
This would mean teaching our children that it creates negative energy when we say mean things about others, and being a positive model for them. It would mean dealing with issues openly in families, rather than taking sides and ganging up against the “bad guy”, it would also mean refusing to gossip about others, and letting others know that you are not interested in listening to gossip.
It might also mean not creating or participating in alignments in the workplace, but rather remaining sincerely cordial and professional in all of your work relationships. It would involve developing an awareness of our own processes, and what it is we are needing when we participate in negative processes. Having a common enemy can make two people feel closer to one another, but is this any basis for cementing a friendship? If much of your interaction with someone is based on discussing a third party, perhaps there is not enough good stuff to sustain the relationship.
I cannot think of anything else that is this simple, yet so profound in its potential impact. The amazing thing is that if only one person makes this resolution and sticks to it, a process of positive change will be set in motion.
This is a little like cleaning up our social and emotional environments. Let’s stop littering our lives with negativity, and polluting our social environments with unnecessary garbage. We’ll all breathe easier, and it will be much better for our children.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit www.gwen.ca