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Co-Written By Mirza Yawar Baig, Steven Earl Salmony and Sally Dugman

According to Yawar:

Change the Script

We have reached a stage in our development (if I dare to call it that) as human beings where our world seems to run on hatred, not love. I think we all know the many reasons for this and how the flames are fanned. I remind myself and you that all fire burns and the result is always ash. It doesn’t matter why the fire was set. If it was set, it will burn everything that lies in its path and turn it to ash. Is this what we want with our lives? Ashes?

If not, I have a solution and here it is.“If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got. If you want to get what you never had, you have to do what you never did.”

Many times we find ourselves stuck in a negative cycle, especially with respect to certain people; parents, spouses, parents-in-law, friends; where with great regularity we find ourselves miserable, angry or otherwise in pain. Every time this happens we tell ourselves, ‘Never again. I will never let that happen again.’ But lo and behold we find that the next time around, in the same entirely predictable way we are enacting the same script all over again.

I don’t know how many of you have seen the play, ‘The Mousetrap’; the longest running play in London. It has been running for several decades. Naturally many of the original actors have retired. Some have died. Many new actors have come into the roles. But you know something; very strangely, the ending is always the same. Now isn’t that strange??

‘Ha!! Ha!!’ you laugh. ‘How can you call it strange?’ you ask. ‘After all the script is the same. So how can the ending be different?’

‘Ha!! Ha!! Indeed’, I say to you. ‘Apply the same logic to your life, Sir or Madam. Remind yourself that if you want a different ending, changing actors is no use. You must change the script. See?’

Cut to your real life’s negative cycles – many people change actors. They get divorces, marry again, change jobs, change friends, cut off relations with parents (… they can’t change those can they?) and so on. And a couple of years into the new relationship, they find that the same problems have resurfaced. And they are surprised.

I always tell them to go and watch ‘The Mousetrap’. Not perhaps for the usual reason but to drive home the point that the problem is not with the actors but with the script.

So, what can you do?

Well here’s my solution.

I call it my 3 – step solution:

  1. Stop dead in your tracks.
  2. Take back the control into your own hands.
  3. Then do the opposite of what you normally do.

 

  1. Stop dead in your tracks

Remember that until you are in the cycle, it will move in the same direction it always did. So, get off. Stop in your tracks. Break the cycle. How? Tape your mouth. Say nothing. Leave the room. Pretend you are having a heart attack. Go to the toilet. Knock over the water – do anything but don’t say that thing which is on the tip of your tongue. DO NOT REACT.

2. Take back the control into your own hands

DO NOT REACT: Remember that when you are reacting you are merely demonstrating that you are a puppet on a string. You are moving in whichever direction the puppet master pulls the string. So, break the string.

Let him pull it whichever way he wants to. Since it is not connected to you, it will not affect you. Remind yourself that NOBODY CAN MAKE YOU FEEL ANYTHING. People do whatever they want to. YOU DECIDE HOW TO REACT. Stop reacting. Instead RESPOND. What is the difference?

Responding is what you consciously choose to do. Reacting is what someone else makes you do. So instead of reacting, respond. What does that entail? Well, for one thing, it requires that you stop (refer to step 1 above) and think about what is happening. Then it requires that you think of what the best way is, to deal with it. Not what is the ‘natural way’ or the ‘instinctive way’ but ‘the best way.’

Remember that what is instinctive or natural is not always what is best. Emotional maturity is to act deliberately and consciously — to do what may not be natural but is wise, useful and productive. To do that, you have to ask yourself another question, ‘What is the result that I want from this interaction?’ Then do that which will get you that result — not what you are dying to do to score some cheap point. So, stopping in your tracks is essential. Remember, anger is natural. Controlling it is not.

  1. Then do the opposite of what you normally do

There is a famous story of President Harry Truman (I think it is about him. Forgive me, please, if I’ve gotten the wrong president) who was locked in an argument with someone. It got to a point that when he was about to say something, the other man said, ‘Don’t even bother. I know exactly what you will do.’ Harry Truman stood up, did a somersault on the carpet of the Oval Office and said, ‘I bet you didn’t think I’d do that?’ That broke the cycle.

Do the opposite. Suddenly hug your mother-in-law and kiss her. Maybe she will have a heart attack and your problem will be solved. Or even better she will see the error of her ways.

Do the opposite of what you normally do. A good way is to be especially nice to those who are nasty to us. Be good to them. Serve them. Be especially thoughtful. And do it sincerely. That is important. Insincerity always shows up and causes more problems. Acting can’t be sustained. Be sincere. And be consistent. Don’t be nice only once. Be nice always. Not because of them, but because of you. Make being nice your brand.

The Prophet Muhammadﷺ said, ‘I guarantee a palace in the middle of Paradise to the person who has the right but gives up his right for his brother.’ He said that because that is tough to do. Do the opposite. What is the best ‘opposite’ for you to do? Well, it is your life, see? So, think about it for yourself. One rule though – it must be the best that you can do — not simply something to score points against the other person.

… because remember the fundamental rule? When life presents a problem for us to solve, if we solve it, we go ahead. If we don’t, the same problem will come back to us again and again until we solve it. Complaining changes nothing. The problem must be solved to show that we learnt our lesson. After all there is a reason for the problem to come in the first place, see? Nothing is without purpose.

We need to graduate from one class to the next. Until we are in the same class, no matter how many schools we change, it is still the same class, same exams, same books, same lessons; until we pass the exam. Only then will we be permitted to move to a higher class. The sooner we demonstrate that we learnt our lesson, the sooner will be our graduation.

In conclusion, remember it is not about changing actors but about changing the script. You are the director. It is your play. But you are not the audience. So, you must act.

According to Steven:

In human experience there are psychological and emotional energy sources that animate behavior. One source is aggressive instincts. The most general expression of aggressive instincts is signified by the word anger. When a person asserts oneself, that assertion is a social acceptable way of expressing aggressive instincts. Hatred is an extreme, antisocial expression of anger. Human beings express their aggressive instincts in different ways.

For example, the act of rape appears superficially to be an expression of sexual instincts, the other source of behavioral animation. But despite the appearance of rape as a sexual act, it is deeply associated with the expression of aggression.

There are also reasons for the expression of hatred. Fear of ‘the stranger,’ or else fear of aspects of one’s own personality that are unconsciously rejected and then projected onto ‘the other,’ is one instance.

Behavior is animated by sexual and aggressive instincts, thought of colloquially as expressions of love and hate. From this perspective behaviors can be placed in two categories: expressions of hate and love. We associate acts of love with goodness and light; whereas, hateful behavior is associated with evil and darkness.

“Tend your spark. Take time to tend it. Become playful in your every day life and look for opportunities to make something. Put one rock on another rock, and then put those rocks on a tree branch, and take photos of the people looking up at them wondering how they got there. Write a little love letter on the wall that you happening to be looking at, to the next person who happens to be looking at it. Gather a poesy of flowers and found objects. Put it in a vessel in front of your television so the light makes shapes on the wall. Draw the shapes. Hide them from your mother.” – journalist, Caitlin Johnstone.


According to Sally Dugman:

We are hardwired as a species to see everything in our experience as a duality with a baseline somewhere between the two ends of the opposite extremes. For example, Paul Bloom, psychologist and philosopher at Yale University, discovered that his two year old son had dualistic thinking, such as is found in hate vs love.

I couldn’t find the link to that paper, but did find another one on the topic. It is at

NATURAL-BORN DUALISTS, A Talk with Paul Bloom [5.11.04]. I also found:

Sensory Dualism – YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WR1hyyYLOO8

The notion that we are ‘natural born dualists’ (advanced by Paul Bloom and others) accounts for the sense that we are ephemeral minds in material bodies. This dualism is repeated across the other dualities which distinguish lived experience: self/world, mind/brain, spirit/body etc. The aim of some contemplative practises is ..

The existence of a self-concept seems to me to bring with it the inevitable duality of self and other, or self and world, or at the very least self and not-self, and causes us to be what Paul Bloom calls ‘natural born dualists’. It does seem to be possible to gain glimpses of how the world might appear if we did not have this …

So we have up/down, light/dark, good/bad and so much more on qualitative and quantitative continuums wherein somewhere in the middle is a neutral or a half and half space. So Steven seems right to me in posing love and hate as polar opposites. Yet they are intimately connected. Yawar is right that we have to keep reacting out of them.

For example what I love (i.e., love morality) automatically defines that which I hate (i.e., immorality and amorality as a subset of immorality in that a morality is not morality).

Now we can try to stand outside of the system of duality. Sometimes we can do it when we have a spiritual awakening or whatever one wants to name it when one envisions life as all is one and unified. It seems a rare and fleeting perspective, I would think.

In any case, I do know what hatred is and it that which I do not love. And I can’t love all. For example, I can’t, not by any stretch of the imagination, love Mengele. I truly hate him and seethe in hatred for what he had wrought as a malignant narcissist.

And I have several ways to deal with hatred when I experience it in others.

1., You band together to stop that which you hate such as banding together to stop hate speech as 40,000 MA residents did in their march:

Boston Rally: Thousands March Against White Nationalism | Time

time.com › U.S. › Massachusetts

By Katie Reilly/Boston, Mass. Updated: August 19, 2017 8:05 PM ET. Thousands of counter-protesters marched through Boston on Saturday in response to a right-wing “free speech” rally, one week after deadly clashes erupted at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., …

2., You fight it singularly. You forcefully confront the haters and you educate them as my sister did with teens, who were strangers to her. The event is described here: The Good Sister, A Model For US All!

  1. You can teach love and reconciliation. This pathway forward has the elements of restorative justice, restitution and conflict resolution. It can be undertaken with imprisoned murderers in relation to the relatives of people murdered (where this process has been used). It can be employed (and has been) in Rwanda wherein people butchered each other over land and resource conflicts. It can be used between street gangs (and has been). It can be used in conflicts between nations and communities (which the Quakers do as work out of their office at the UN building and from other locations).

My friends, now dead, developed the process and we can apply this model everywhere across societies. It is:

Alternatives to Violence (AVP) – Quakers in the World

www.quakersintheworld.org/quakers-in-action/42/-Alternatives-to-Violence-AVP

Alternatives to Violence (AVP). AVP was initiated by US Quakers in 1975, in response to requests for help from inmates in Greenhaven Prison, New York. It is now an international movement independent from Quakers, though many Friends are actively involved in AVP groups in many countries. Although it began in a prison …

Influential Quakers in Crime and Justice in North America in modern …

www.quakersintheworld.org/quakers…/Influential-Quakers-in-Crime-and-Justice-in-N...

Larry Apsey (1902 – 1997) was a New York Quaker who was a key founder of AVP in 1975. AVP grew out of the 1960s ‘Quaker Project on Community Conflict’ (QPCC), which Larry guided for several years. Its initial aim was to train civil rights demonstrators in nonviolent approaches. In 1964 Larry went to Mississippi as a …

Alternatives to Violence Project: AVP-USA, Inc.

https://avpusa.org/

An AVP Workshop facilitator’s view:“AVP is about people from all different backgrounds coming together to be in community. When I see participants making themselves vulnerable by sharing and being open to change, I am inspired to manage my own conflict better. We are all transformed, and that transformation ripples …

The fact is that we can have universal love and brother/sisterhood if people are trained properly. The fact that we have to be selfish to tend to our own biological needs, those of our families and the social groups with which we identify doesn’t mean that we have to do othering to people and other species to which we don’t closely identify.

The Problem of Othering: Towards Inclusiveness and Belonging …

www.otheringandbelonging.org/the-problem-of-othering/

Introduction. The problem of the twenty-first century is the problem of “othering.” In a world beset by seemingly intractable and overwhelming challenges, virtually every global, national, and regional conflict is wrapped within or organized around one or more dimension of group-based difference. Othering undergirds …
We have to start training the children in younger years to not “other” and not to bully. My daughter, as the only guidance counselor, is training educators, parents and children in an elementary school of 350 children whose age starts at age five to apply the golden rule — to do unto others as you would have them do to you, along with other lessons.

This sense of caring and mutuality certainly beats out hatred and acts of hostility:

She makes very interesting projects for the children since she is dedicated to creating a peaceful, non-hateful school and society in general. Here’s one of them. She told me:

I also want to have them [the children – S. D.] make a wall of friendship. They can each draw on a [paper – S.D.] “brick” one thing they can do to be a good friend. I will also use a sentence starter at the bottom that says “A good friend…” I will have choices and they can write one of these answers or make up one of their own to illustrate the concept of caring and mutual support…

A good friend shares
a good friend plays
a good friend is nice
a good friend tells you a joke
a good friend gives compliments

a good friend doesn’t cut in line

a good friend smiles

a good friend holds the door.

Here’s the alternative to her plan for improvements. Frankly, we threesome writers here prefer our thoughts over the dysfunctionality that is wrought upon another person portrayed here in this short video. We can stop it, along with people like my daughter, if we try very, very hard.

 

Mirza Yawar Baig is based in Hyderabad, India and is the founder and President of Yawar Baig & Associates; an international leadership consulting organization. He can be reached at yawar@yawarbaig.com

Steven Earl Salmony, Ph.D., M.P.A. is a writer in Fearrington Village, NC, USA.

Sally Dugman is a writer in MA, USA.

 

 

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