Our world is mired by change and volatility. While in the midst of accelerating sixth mass extinction, we are also facing issues on human rights due to different views on what is equality to an ongoing coronavirus pandemic. According to psychologist Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi, whose train was attacked during World War 2 when he was fleeing Budapest at age 10 thought, “Grown-ups had really no idea how to live.” He is very much right. Even today, adults don’t seem to get along and the conflict is deepening globally. Our world today is getting more polarised, as it was during the Second World War when Fascism, Democracy, and Communism fought one another. Perhaps what we all need is to cultivate friendliness amidst a polarised world.
We are responsible for our feelings
Some of us tend towards the idea of developing an unconditional love for one another. If not unconditional love for all, at least in the relationships we have. However, unconditional love may be a tall order. Because we do not clearly understand what is conditioned and what is unconditioned. However, friendliness is something we can learn to develop. To live in a world where we can respect and be friendly to one another, we have to change ourselves.
But many of us attribute our pain, anxiety and sufferings on external situations. We often blame others for how we feel. Thoughts such as, “why can’t he or she be nicer to what’s wrong with them when I’m so giving?” comes to mind. We neglect to see that others are not responsible to how we feel. Our wellbeing is our own responsibility because how we experience life is so important, we should not give anyone that power.
Friendliness Comes from Within
Friendliness is a feeling. Forgiveness is also a feeling and it comes with friendliness. We find it hard to always be friendly to others. That is because we all have our biases. If we are unable to be friendly to everyone, we cannot expect the same of others. If we can remember to forgive ourselves and to forgive others, it might be easier to be friendly most of the time. Forgiveness is an open and soft feeling. In order to be able to forgive others, we have to look within ourselves. Why? Because if we cannot forgive ourselves for perhaps being rude, hurtful, or being a push-over, we can’t forgive another who does the same things to us.
How to develop friendliness?
What is the key to developing friendliness amidst a polarised world? Since hostility, the opposite of friendliness is also a feeling, it would make sense to learn about our own feelings. In a previous post, we talked about labeling our feelings is important in order not to suppress our emotions. The consequence of suppressing emotions is self-harm. Unfortunately, most of us are unclear about the feelings we experience moment to moment. We only known unpleasant feelings and instead of being clear about them, we run away from them.
We can learn to see feelings as if they are babies crying for help, or looking to be acknowledged. To acknowledge feelings, which is a key part of our inner experience, we need to learn to pay attention. Friendliness is a key component of Mindfulness-Based Strategic Awareness Training (MBSAT), an 8-week mindfulness protocol for the non-clinical population. MBSAT cultivates attention to our body sensations, emotions, thoughts, and action impulse (BETA) so we can clearly see our inner experience and learn to work with them instead of avoiding them.
MBSAT is recognised by the Switzerland Mindfulness Association. The program is available for the workplace, open enrolment, and online. Contact us for more information.