Kill ’em With Kindness!

That’s what my mother used to say when I was being bullied. The theory was that they would lose interest if I didn’t react. At least, that was the theory and it worked for her.

Me: not so much.

I live with someone who is very difficult (I think!), and I’ve vowed to overcome the difficulties with Zen meditation and practice. I am looking closely at what I do to set her off and to minimize that behavior, so she doesn’t have the opportunity to explode. (Shades of Skinner’s Behavior Modification!)

I am also listening to what she’s trying to tell me when she’s angry and not reacting to her outbursts. And I am trying to be thoughtful whenever I can be (small birthday and Christmas gifts, for example, without expecting anything back). (Mom’s “kill-’em-with-kindness” policy).

And you know what? It works! Not as behavior modification per se, but as a way to create harmony in a crazy world. Might even work for Obama and Ahmadinejad!

I keep the “Empty Rowboat” story (see Home page) in mind and clean up after her when necessary, ignoring the voice that wants to play the “blame game” while I do it.

The end result is that we are living in peace in a way that I never would have believed possible. And she’s modified my behavior for the better! We are becoming more of a team with fewer ego clashes; and even if I don’t ask her, she has eliminated many of the things that used to irritate me (such as making lots of noise — or doing laundry in the apartment — after midnight when I had to get up early).

This was my practice for this fall, and it seems to be working. Now if I could just remember to use these tactics when I’m caught off balance out in the so-called “real” world . . .


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