Can You Learn To Focus On Love Over Hate?

In a yoga recent Manifestation Yoga retreat led by Jen Pastiloff, she asked us to consider a question. If you were in a room of 100 people and 99 of them loved you, but one of them hated you, who would you focus on?

Ninety-nine are happy for you, loving, and openly share their admiration for you. But that one person is there. She never seems to be happy for you. It’s almost as if she's delighted when you trip or make a mistake. Maybe she makes an offhand comment that you unfortunately overhear. How would it affect you? Would you return your focus to the compliments, the praise, the love? Or would the cacophony of love and praise be lost in the cutting remarks?

This question really stuck in my mind over the next week so or so. I kept asking myself, who would I focus on? Of course I know the answer should be the 99, but I know that’s not how my mind works. I had this internal struggle about why I would choose the one over the 99; was I deficient? Was the one right? Were the 99 wrong? As I continued to ponder this question, the universe decided it was time for me to have a real-life opportunity to settle this debate once and for all.

A few weeks after the yoga retreat I was contacted by the American Cancer Society. They invited me out to lunch to discuss the work I'd done over the last four years to support cancer patients and survivors through my MovingOn rehabilitative exercise program. They informed me they had contacted my doctors, who spoke highly of me. They contacted hospital administrative staff, who share the same lovely sentiments. Based on the information they gathered, that they feel I exemplify cancer survivorship, which is why they named me the 2013 recipient of the Luster for Life award. These two women said so many nice things about me I asked if they would read my eulogy.

They went on to tell me I'll receive this award at a black tie ball, the ACS’s biggest fund raiser of the year. At this ball, I'll be surrounded by my family, friends and medical professionals who cured my cancer. I'll be surrounded by people who love me at a very public event.

Ironically, during the same week I found out about this award, I learned that someone who I thought would be my friend for life had other plans. With no warning other than a very cold shoulder, I realized I'd been uninvited from this person's life. No conversation, just dropped like a hot potato.

The rejection I felt was overwhelming. I don’t know what I did or didn’t do to cause this, and it was clear I wasn't going to have the opportunity to find out. It had been decided that whatever crime I committed, the judge and jury decided I was guilty and would be sentenced to rejection. My heart was broken. Any kind words spoken about me or to me earlier in the week were immediately forgotten.

Again, Jen's question came to mind. The universe sent me this literal situation about the 99 love and one hate. And, I’m sad to say, I focused on the one. The award and all the positive attention became irrelevant to me. Once again I found evidence that I’m not lovable.

As I shared the irony of this situation with two friends, they kindly reminded me that I have a story about not being lovable that I've built over a lifetime of living with alcoholic, abusive parents. This is just what I do. It's easier for me to focus on the negative rather than the positive. Again, I'm reminded that at times like this I can choose to empower my unlovable story or I can let it go and focus on the folks who love and support me.

It took a while, but I’m shifting my focus to the 99. There are too many people out there who will or won't love me. My story will always show up with both groups of people. When it does, I have the opportunity to choose love or rejection.

So I'll repeat Jen Pastiloff's profound question in the hopes that you get as much out of it as I did. If you were in a room of 100 people and you knew 99 of them loved you, but one hated you, who would you focus on?

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