The Scott Shaw Blog

Be Positive

In the Presence of Your Enemy

For those of you who know me, or have been reading me, (or for those of you just reading this now), you know I have been an aquarium enthusiast for… Well, pretty much forever… I have long focused on the freshwater fish of the African variety. Particularly Cichlids have been my primary focus through the years. The problem with Cichlid is, however, they tend to be very aggressive. The aquarium community will be fine for a time and then one day one decides to get all bad ass and starts killing his (or her) tank mates. More recently, my focus has shifted to African Leaf Fish. Of the same variety as Cichlids but far less aggressive. Thus, no murder.

So, that’s all fine and good but then I added an Upside Down Catfish. A few months later, I added another. When they were small all was well with the world—their world. Now, they are like eight inches long and the one is a total bully over the other one. The smaller/newer one has to spend his (or her) life in hiding as the moment he (or she) reveals itself the other one goes on the attack. This has left me very perplexed as to what to do. And, it has been like this for a couple of years.

I actually bought the second one so the first one would have a friend. But, as many good intentions go, all it did was create havoc and chaos, especially for the life of the smaller fish.

I’ve had cats for the past three decades plus of my life. The first two I bought very close to the same time. They were kittens and they loved each other throughout their life. So much so that when one died many-many years later, the other one was so devastated she too die shorty there after. But, it hasn’t always been like that. In some cases, some of my cats really disliked each other. But, there they were, they were put together and forced to live in the same space. Living in constant conflict and most probably unhappiness about having to be in cohabitation with that other Persian Cat.

I never had much of a family—being an only child and all. In fact, I really had no family, so I can’t attest to exactly how this is. But, I have known some people who have brothers and sisters that they really hate. They really don’t get along. But, there they are, (at least when they are young), they have to live in the same small space. What does this cause? I guess, a lot of very negative emotions and probably some dastardly deeds.

I know sometimes when people work in a specific environment they are forced to interact with people they don’t really like. But, they need that pay check, so what can they do? They have to, at least, play nice or simply avoid that other person as much as possible.

Why does life have to be like this? I guess, for many it is not. Some can simply separate from those they do not like—they can walk away. But, in other circumstances, like the case of my Upside Down Catfish, they are cast to living a life defined by the distasteful attacking actions of that someone else that they have no way to run away from.

From a philosophic perspective, one could argue that it is simply your self-perception, your projected-definition, your desire for people to be the way you want them to be that causes you to like or dislike anyone in the first place. Sure! That may be true. But, there are a lot of people who simply do not care what you feel, why you feel, or what their doing does to your life. Thus, if you are forces to interact or even live with them what are you left with? A life defined by conflict: internally, psychologically, and possibly even physically.

I can say, as most anyone would, leave those situations if you can. But, like my fish and some of the cases of my cats in the past, sometimes there is just no way out. Then what?

The only answer is, understand your definitions.

All of your life is a projection of your interpretation of this moment and/or that person. If you love hell it becomes heaven.

I used to play this mental game with girls that I would meet when I was young. Maybe I liked them, maybe I didn’t, but I would turn this switch on, inside my brain, and I would decided to love them. I would actually allow My Self to feel that feeling of love. What I realized is that you can, if you choose to, actually turn that emotion of love on and off. Meaning, if you can turn that emotion on and off, you can turn any emotion on and off. Thus, even if you do not like the person you are forced to interact with, you can consciously choose to change the emotion you have towards them.

Now, this is not a technique for everybody. But, it is a technique that anyone can employee if they choose to.

You can decide how you feel about anyone. You do not have to let their actions and/or the who they are be the only defining factor in your love or your hate relationship.

So, next time you find yourself trapped with a person that you do not really like, instead of allowing that interaction to churn up all kinds of negative emotions in you, turn it around, take control, decide how you feel and make yourself feel the way you want to feel.

This may not ultimately change who a person is and what a person does but at least you will have the control over yourself to not let them be the only deciding factor for your life.