Being with friends at the weekend was good for my mental well-being as they support me and take me for who I am. It was from this weekend that I got to thinking about the word ‘karma’ and how my friends had used this word to support them and me to feel better. Most people these days have used this word and it’s often seen in posts on social media. But, the way it is used often seems to be in the form of an attack. The idea being that if someone did something wrong then they will get this back tenfold.

My friends were using this word to help, thinking that if I thought someone who had done me wrong was going to get their just desserts then this would help me feel better about the person, the situation and myself.

Oh how wrong we are

Attacking someone else or wishing them hurt because they have hurt us does not make us feel better. It might seem that way for a bit, but the anger, hurt, resentment…stick in here whatever feeling it was that came up for you…that feeling, those emotions, they are inside of you, at your core, in your head, wherever you feel they reside, but they are internal. They are within you, no one else. And the internal things that go on, well we have control of that. Honestly, we do.

Whatever goes on in our environment outside of us, the external, is something we do not have control over.

So if someone comes along who presses your buttons, who can say a word or give you a look and make you feel bad, unhappy, less of a person…stick in here whatever the emotion is that you feel. Having an emotion that is not a welcome one, that is going to happen at some point. Wishing ‘karma’ on them doesn’t stop them from doing it. In fact, the person is going to be, who they are going to be. What affect this has on you is probably not something they are even aware of but even if they were they won’t necessarily stop doing it. They will be who they will be.

So how can you stop this?

Well how we stop is actually what karma is about.

Karma isn’t about getting someone back. It is not about someone doing something negative so they will then find this comes back to them. We use karma in a totally different way to how it is usually thought about.

What Karma really means is energy. It is our intentional thoughts and actions, not a reward or punishment.

I love this definition of karma:
“Karma is an action, not a result. The future is not set in stone. You can change the course of your life right now by changing your volitional (intentional) acts and self-destructive patterns.”
                                                                                                   Barbara O’Brien of the buddhism.about.com

So to put it another way, whatever you think about in regards to emotions is what will grow. So, if you are constantly angry with life, the more angry you will be, as you are nurturing this without even knowing it. Just as, if you come at life, and people, with peace and calm, you will grow and nurture peace and calm in your mind, heart the internal world.

If we really think about how people generally use the word karma, it is all about getting back at someone. How can this help us find peace and harmony for ourselves? It can’t. Whilst you are angry at what they said, they have left and gone about their lives whilst you sit and fester on this or why your thoughts are still all caught up in them and how this made you feel. The only person who is causing you discontent and hurt emotionally there, is you.

And this is the real issue – this is how we can make the change, take that control.

Dealing with ourselves is hard work. We are so used to just going through the motions, even when it does not feel like we are. Someone says or does something, that triggers an emotion, then we act from that emotion, that thought.

We can only change ourselves and while this can be hard, if we practice and keep trying, we can build those progressive habits that can support us to manage how we view things. This is how we take control.

We have to start somewhere and it will take time. The emotions will still come but through practice we can learn from the emotion and then make a choice with how we respond to that.

This is karma – that energy that you put into yourself. To make your own internal world positive, supportive, and a loving environment. Working on this will bring more of it about. You will have your own karma that will lift and enlighten you.

That is how you stop others having control of your emotions, how you stop emotions having control of your thoughts and how you get back that control. All of which supports your overall mental well-being.

What karma do you wish for yourself? Go find that.