Following the ray of light that leads us to change, we often run into others’ problems or challenges that inadvertently affect our being able to feel happy in whatever life situation we choose to be in. This is often the case when one decides to
- marry or partner with someone who has young children from another marriage/union
- take on a job that seems overwhelming with a difficult situation(s) or person(s) involved
- engage in a new way of being that appears daunting, which involves interacting with others not so harmonious, either belligerent, ignorant, mean, depressed, etc.
- this list of dealing with difficulties goes on … and includes situations/people we have not chosen to be with or have dealings with
Virtually every time we leave the safety of our own home we have to face others.
Most of the time we, as social beings, are polite and interact with respect and practice kindness, at least I’d like to think so. We can all always improve in that regard.
What I’m talking about here is a situation one finds oneself in, for example, when one is either considering marrying or already has, a life-partner who turns out to have a difficult ex-wife, a conflicting life-philosophy, or even a challenging child involved. Another example is when one has taken on a job that instead of being a good choice turns out to be the exact, or so it appears, opposite case. Dealing with other’s karma happens a lot. It can happen in our own families. When we find we’re in an intimate, family-oriented (or day-to-day business scenario, or other up-close-and-personal situation) where in order to continue being involved we have to make a choice, that choice is …
We either must learn to accept that the difficult person or circumstance exists, and accept it, her or him — or — we must leave for our sanity’s sake.
It comes down to simply that.
But sometimes we can’t leave, and our only choice is to accept. So instead of losing our minds (literally) or drink, drug, or rampage over “it” we have to choose to accept our difficult life circumstances. But how to do this without absorbing someone else’s negative, or unresolved karma. The Sanskrit word karma I’m using in this case here, is to describe the manner in which as person’s life is affected by what has comes previously; the result on how one’s current attitudes and manner of living is affected by actions either taken, not taken, or received beforehand. Please keep in mind that in the Eastern tradition, karma is always reversible if one so chooses to do the work necessary to do so. Karma is not set in stone.
In order to not be affected by others’ karma and still remain in a comfortable, ease-ful relationship with them, and still be a happy person, we need to practice detachment (we’ll speak more about detachment later). Here, we’re simply discussing that part of detachment that includes choosing to accept another’s weird karma. Of course you may choose to disengage from the relationship or situation, after weighing your choices. Once a person has had the Awareness (usually over and over) that the situation at hand is adversely affected by others’ disrupting behavior, attitudes, or circumstances — and Acceptance is the choice already made (“I’m staying because I love him that much!” “It means a lot to mean to keep trying!”) we now go into the Action mode of “how to” accept others’ negative karma.
If the situation is anything like what I faced in my marriage to Carter, that of his dangerous ex-spouse (she’d already falsely reported me to the authorities for unspeakable atrocities of immoral abuse upon her two kids), compounded by the eventual, unnervingly irritation of a difficult child (all step-families can attest this more common than not) — and again, I chose to stay and share my life with the husband I adored, not wanting to end our marriage because of others’ karma) — I then had to, over and over, as each circumstance arose anew, to choose to learn how to dance with others’ karmic tugs and pulls.
What do I mean by dance with others’ karma?
I mean just that. When one swirls and shimmies on a dance floor, you accept your partner’s funny quirks and rhythms, allowing for personality, peculiar idiosyncrasies, and note that a person’s flamboyance, style, or regional, cultural differences make that person the unique he or she they are. To dance with someone is not to undertake a mission to change that person. It means you simply agree, for however short or long the dance lasts, to choose to engage intimately with them. To dance. Sometimes cheek-to-cheek. But you are not joined at the hip, and the dance does not continue for eternity. And you can always leave, if you so wish. If one’s challenge is coming from the spouse or relationship-partner him- or her-self … well, this is a more challenging task, but not an impossible one. The same method of Awareness-Acceptance-Action applies to any situation one faces.
I’ll give the for instance of my darling Carter’s unfortunate habit of slovenliness. No matter how hard I tried to remedy this character defect of his, I finally came to the realization that messiness is simply his karma. Over the course of our 20+ year marriage I’ve gone through every bump and hole, pleading with him to try to change his ingrown habit. I came to understand that it was taught to him by parents who never expected their male children to do any domestic chores at all. Yes, I have silently cursed Carter’s upbringing for this nasty karma he brought into our marriage. But — how have I learned to not let my own mate’s distasteful karmic actions affect my own happiness?
First, I had the awareness that socks and underwear registered a big nothing on Carter’s consciousness screen. I’ll give him credit that today he does at least make an effort. But at the beginning of our partnering he chose to live with the pile of clothes I simply threw on his side of our bed that was conveniently camouflaged from the rest of the room, and others’ sight, until he got around to dealing with his own mess. I never allowed myself to be dragged INTO his bad karma with slovenliness along with him. It was HIS karma, not mine. I simply designed a way (arranging the room, getting him out of using drawers that he never could close, karmic-ally, and instead, using hidden-away shelves tucked away in a never-seen-by-others’ closet). To live with this man whom I love immeasurably, I had to accept he wasn’t ready (and perhaps was incapable) to address this strange karmic blip he’d come into the marriage with. And I certainly didn’t want to leave him for a pile of dirty clothes.
Can you imagine how ludicrous it would be for me to be approaching the judge to say, as I petitioned for divorce, “Well Your Honor, he simply won’t pick his clothes up — but everything else about our marriage is just great!”
We’ll talk about how to accept having a difficult child later on.