Overcoming Hostility


Playing the “Hostile” Card.

I wanted to do a series that embraced all 20 cards from mood-measuring Moodscope (see http://www.moodscope.com).  Today, it’s the turn of the “Hostile” card, which Moodscope defines as, “feeling unfriendly towards others.”

The root of the word is strongly associated with Latin and Middle French for “belonging to an enemy”… however it is also related to “guest” in its original meaning of “guest; enemy; stranger”.  Perhaps this root can help us.  There is a natural, even sensible fear of ‘strangers’ and that which is ‘strange’.  This fear puts us on our guard, and thus we appear and often are ‘unfriendly’.

When life is tough, we can sometimes begrudge others their apparent happiness.  They are ‘outside’ our circle of experience.  When others are joyful and we are sad, it seems so unfair.  All too easily, this can begin the slide down into the unfriendly territory of hostility.  We can snap at them, and treat them as a ‘hostile’!  Clearly, most people in peace-time are not hostiles.  Perhaps then we can turn our own hostility on hostility itself.  If “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” we could see fear or jealousy or bitterness or disappointment as the real (root) enemy, and transform our opinion of others and their good fortune.  It can even come down to something as simple as assuming the best intention behind the behaviour of others – the so called, “benefit of the doubt”.

With a little bit of emotional alchemy, we can usually find something fascinating or charming about others.  It is then a matter of fighting hostility on two fronts – appreciating our new ‘friends’ so that we become outwardly more friendly, and turning the strength of our own hostility on hostility itself.

In my experience, emotions often follow behaviours.  If we behave in a friendly manner towards ‘strangers’, any sense of hostility towards them diminishes, and the victory over hostility is assured.  By welcoming others to join us ‘inside’ our circle, we can often be delighted by the gifts they may well bring with them: laughter, joy, insight, kindness, and friendship.

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