Can your rudeness keep a person awake? Can his rudeness keep you awake? Yes. A recent research done at the Portland State University in the US says it most certainly can and does. Sarcasm, put-downs and abuses, prick, hurt, wound. The mind continually replays the hurt more than even the words. You can get up at midnight even if you’ve finally fallen into an exhausted sleep, troubled by your seething emotions. Apparently, rudeness doesn’t keep only you staring at the ceiling all night from your bed, it keeps your partner awake as well.
I remember that years ago, when I was sarcastic to somebody, she said gently, pleadingly, “Don’t say tha-a-t!” That soft reproach went straight to my heart. The need for the shield of sarcasm fell away. From then on I watch my words and tone. When I slip, I feel uneasy and ask myself, “Which part of me did that come from?” While the question itself serves as a self-controlling mechanism, it is interesting to really learn from exactly where, it came from.
A wave in the ocean. Fascinatingly, Albert Einstein wrote how by falling into the delusion of being separate from one another — separation being an “optical illusion of our consciousness” — we see things only in that limited framework. That is, when I am rude, I become like the deluded wave in the ocean barking at another wave, “You are blocking my view!!@@**! Get out of my way.” Similarly, when I feel my ways or values are being disrespected, I get disconnected from my larger sense of self and react rudely from my smaller sense of self.
Once I knew where my rudeness came from — my smallness, I could justify my sarcasm self-righteously, but I’d only go deeper into my smallness. It’s not a good place to be in —there’s pain there, numbness, denial, a crying without tears, isolation, fear, brittle hardness, tension and depression. All these put tons of unnecessary strain and suffering on our biology.
Thankfully, my friend’s “Don’t say tha-a-t!” led me to a better place. Before I said anything that could be construed as remotely rude, I questioned my intentions. Such a self-reflective stroll within oneself is very pleasant. You come across a wordless teaching that illuminates by showing you your better silent self. You deeply understand that silence is golden and speech can be too. Ever since, I’ve entered a new life of gentle peacefulness, well… at least, most of the time!
Be humble, be gentle. The renowned philosopher J Krishnamurti (JK) was a great example of genuine courtesy, grace and refined behaviour. When he was erroneously greeted by his chef Michael Krohnen at 1.15 in the afternoon with a “Good morning, Krishnaji,” JK replied politely, “Good morning, Michael.” And when JK accidentally spilled water on the kitchen floor, he exclaimed with spontaneous remorse to Michael, “Oh, I’m sorry.
I spilled some water. I’m so sorry, sir. I’ll wipe it.”
Humility is one of the most beautiful seeds present in all of us. It keeps us calm, composed and dignified. When we are rude, we inject spiteful, petty, presumptuous vibrations in the universe and mess it up. When we are humble, we emit vibrations that are gentle, sweet, unassuming that freshen the atmosphere. To be humble is an art — you expect nothing, you appreciate and are thankful for everything. Even the mighty ocean waits with hushed humility for the rivers to flow into it. We could be coming across an attitude of rudeness daily. Here, it is important to know that it is drawn to you when you resonate to it. Consequently, towards the end of the day, you may find yourself feeling disgruntled and irritable. Rather than raise more negative vibrations by blaming others, it is more effective to become aware that we need to do something about our button being pressed because it is there. Our mental system has to be healthy for our physical immune system to be healthy. And we have to be watchful to ensure that the uneasy, unpleasant feeling does not trigger a serious health issue.
Step back from drama. There are two beautiful ways to stop ourselves from being rude or being affected by another’s rudeness. One, mentally take a few steps back, detach yourself from the drama so that you are not a part of it. We grow through love, not through abuse. When we step back, the strong urge to be scathing or retaliate fades. It keeps you free of angry palpitations inside and it keeps the atmosphere free of unpleasantness. When only one hand claps, it can only touch silence. In stepping back, you give love and all that’s good and healthy and whole to step forward. When you remember this, the stepping-back becomes more spontaneous, more natural.
The second way is to simply offer all the rudeness we carry in us to a higher, greatly intelligent idea — in our mind — like peace. It helps to experience peace, to taste the sweetness of serenity flowing like ambrosia through you.
For me, it was a progression: I didn’t like my heart palpitating to my agitations. This was followed by intensely wanting life to be simple, for somehow, simple seemed synonymous with peace… as I understood vividly that even in simplifying life, conflicts still continued and marred the peace, I longed for harmony — and, yes, I backed off from drama and remained there… It’s an incredibly quiet and reassuring inner place to be in.
Finally, practise the lovely art of paying attention every now and then to the things that you appreciate in life. Researchers in Boulder Creek, California, say that this practice allows positive emotions to emerge and slows the heart rate to a healing rhythm. It also makes the brain release beneficial neurotransmitters. The Dalai Lama often pauses in his busy day to gaze at the picturesque scenery outside the window. Whenever JK returned to his Pine Cottage in Ojai, California, he’d gaze with tender affection at the different coloured flowers swaying on the walkway. He’d gently hold an open, crimson blossom in his cupped palms and breathe in its perfume. I read about a wheelchair-bound person who “attaches” his mind to thoughts on “God and fairy tales”. That’s also a terrific idea, truly a wonderful way to live. After all, you can’t be rude to a sweet, little, delicate fairy, can you?
The writers are authors of Fitness for Life and Simply Spiritual – You Are Naturally Divine and teachers of the Fitness for Life programme.