Several months ago, I found myself palgued by negative thoughts and pointless drama. A couple people from MacGyver and my pasts had popped into our lives for no apparent reason other than to spread discontent and drama. I started hearing gossip that involved me from military personnel I barely knew. It wasn't anything too particularly vitriolic or slanderous, but that made it all the more annoying. Though this may seem like a contradiction (given this blog), I am a very private person and I can't stand people talking about me (or my loved ones) behind my back.
I don't know if there actually was more gossip going on, or if I had simply been made more aware of it by certain new acquaintences, but I quickly became increasingly more frustrated with the situation until finally my frustration built up into anger. One day, I found myself railing angrily inside my head, "Why the eff can't people who have no business in our live - be they from the past or just not really close to us - just mind thier own mother-effing business?" "How can a person who has done X and Y, who is so blatantly selfish and immoral presume to say anything about me?"
And I stopped. And I was a little shocked. And a little disturbed. These are NOT the type of thoughts I think. I do not think that I am better than anyone else. When people strike out pointlessly against me, I ignore them and allow their own vitriole and hatred to consume them. I don't get sucked into other people's petty, childish games. And I do not tear people down just for the sake of it. I may disapprove of people's actions, and I may even say so (or blog so, as the case may be), but I DO NOT individually attack people and tear them down. I, in short, don't think thoughts like I caught myself thinking.
I felt like I was being pulled down by the negative, petty people in our lives (and there were a few of them - it was almost like there was one in every single arena of our lives - like they were planted there to test me - not that I'm megalomaniacal enough to believe that ;-)), and I did not like it. So at Samhain, I cast these things away. I promised myself I would not get dragged down anymore. I would avoid these negative forces at all costs. I cut a bunch of people out of my social networks. I avoided a couple people at events. I felt immensly better.
Sure, there have been a couple of slip-ups. Gossip I tried to avoid reached me anyway a couple times, and though I fought it, there were twinges of annoyance and frustration. But not much. It didn't result in anything more than a little kvetching on my part.
But soon, I started to feel like maybe just ignoring this negativity wasn't the whole answer. Suddenly, I started to feel like I was getting a very clear message from the Universe that it was time for me to do a whole lot more than ignoring things. It was time to overcome my annoyance, frustration, preoccupation, and anger - and the insecurities that coincide with them. There are many more details on this "message" from the Universe here.
The key to that message from the Universe was the book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong. After reading the book just once, I was completely won over. This was the answer I was looking for. This was the beginning of my journey. Starting in January, I would spend approximately one month on each of the 12 steps, which I believe will be a solid foundation for a journey I expect to last many years - probably a lifetime.