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I’m not a big proponent of New Year’s Resolutions. I feel like they place too much emphasis on one day (rather than that you can change your life and yourself at any point), and they set people up to fail (too much change at once rarely succeeds), and then you feel like you’ve got to wait until January 1st to roll around again for a do-over.

But I can’t help thinking about more subtle changes that I might like to manifest — not necessarily because it’s a new year, but because I’ve had some days off to pause and reflect — and one of the things my mind keeps returning to is the concept of ahimsa.

Ahimsa, quite literally, is the principle of nonviolence towards all living things, yourself and those around you. Deeper than that, it advocates compassion, again, towards yourself and those around you. Not merely about actions, Ahimsa emphasizes thought, as well, to think, as well as act, with compassion and nonviolence.

One of the reasons this has been on my mind is that, in my not-so-distant past, I dated someone who enjoyed pain. So I learned how to deliver it. I’m unclear about whether I also learned to enjoy delivering it, or I merely enjoyed the pleasure my delivering it caused, but I definitely enjoyed something about the process. I learned to cause pain, and I learned various ways in which to be creative about my delivery, which meant I also spent time thinking about the pain I was causing and how to cause more of it.

I enjoyed it, because, as I’ve said before, I’m a people pleaser, so I enjoy pleasing. I naturally enjoy watching and hearing satisfaction. And part of me, the introspective part, also enjoyed tapping into this utterly new and foreign side of myself, curious for where it would lead and what it could create. It was a whole new world, since, like most civilized people, and especially civilized girls, I’d been taught to be nice. Specifically, I’d been told not to be impatient or bossy or cruel.

So there was a thrill to exploring the forbidden, the rude, the mean — the impatient, the bossy, and the cruel.

But then I realized that this was a rabbit hole I did not need to fall down. That I was not interested in expanding those parts of my personality. That I did not want to encourage those dark aspects of my personality, and that I was disturbed by the pleasure I had received from causing pain to a loved one. I was disturbed by how well I did it, and by the dark places it was so easy for me to explore.

Just because something comes to us easily does not mean it is a good thing. In fact, perhaps the opposite is true. I’m not interested in indulging that side of myself, strengthening it, allowing it to seep into other aspects of my life and my dreams. I’m not good with boundaries. I can’t do one thing one moment and then switch it off. I’m all about Pandora’s Box, and once it is opened, I don’t know if there’s a going back.

So instead, for 2015, I would like to focus on Ahimsa. I would like to focus on being kinder and more loving and more patient and more giving. I would like to be better and not darker. I would like to love with pleasure and not with pain. I don’t know that I can ever really be less impatient, but I hope I can be less bossy and cruel.

ahimsa

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