Nobody likes to be around someone who thinks they are somebody who is more important than everybody else.
But, everyone likes to be around someone who makes them feel like a somebody.
A really cool thing; even on the days when I feel like a nobody, I still have the power to make somebody else feel like a somebody. (Knowing what it feels like to be a nobody helps me remember the importance of doing this.)
The even cooler thing; we are all broken yet still somebody. And, if I know I am a somebody, but no more of a somebody than you, and you are a somebody but no more of a somebody than me, that’s the perfect condition to make the most of our somebodyness…together.
My work is mostly about unraveling misunderstandings between people.
So many accusations. So many disappointments. So many troubled relationships.
I’ve found that one of the most helpful ways to deal with how people disappoint us is to remember that we are a “people” too, disappointing others just as others have disappointed us. Kipling’s quote below is harsh but contains so much truth.
When I quit defending myself long enough to admit my own dishonesty, disguising parts of myself I think others won’t like, I can forgive others for the same.
Accepting the crazy part of being human sure makes it easier to believe that others are doing the best they can, as well.
Wholesale condemnation, even though it makes me feel temporarily better about myself, only makes it worse for everyone in the long run.
The people I enjoy being around the most have learned not to…
- spout one-sided declarations
- pontificate about everything
- pronounce judgement on people they dislike
- be so black and white about themselves, others, and life
They own their faults yet remain high in self-esteem.
They are honest about who they are yet at work on their dark side.
They can be repelled by what someone does yet still care about the one who did it.
They get angry at someone yet remain loving toward them.
They can see the worst possibilities and yet remain hopeful.
They can be generous and yet remain self-nurturing.
They can be afraid yet capable of acting.
These people are neither black nor white. They are real.
(inspired by David Richo)
Sometimes, we have to leave the narrow confines of our own neighborhood in order to remember that what we have is an awful lot.
I had a “slap-me-back-to-reality” experience when I showed up to do a training session for a non-profit agency. The poorest of the poor were all waiting around the entrance as I got out of my nice car and walked up. For the sake of sensitivity to their glaring needs, the outfit and accessories that I had taken pains to coordinate, I now wanted to hide. I was ashamed that I had forgotten the poor.
Having abundance is nothing to be ashamed of…as long as we…
- don’t feel entitled
- beware of every form of greed
1. Ignore small offences.
2. Boycott ruffled feathers.
3. Don’t stay in any conversation that starts with, “Can you believe he/she did….” or, “You’re not gonna believe this…”
4. Ban eye-rolling.
5. Forbid finger-pointing.
6. Don’t feel obligated to defend your point of view.
7. Give all bosses, politicians, relatives, and co-workers the benefit of a doubt.
See what this does for your personality and your blood-pressure.
Seek ye first the good things of the mind, and the rest will either be supplied or its loss will not be felt. – Francis Bacon
…and your friends…
Choose your companions from the best; Who draws a bucket with the rest soon topples down the hill. – William Butler Yeats
There’s another (more accurate) option in the middle.
Yesterday I got upset because I didn’t know how to handle a situation and made a mess of a conversation. My internal dialog said, You’re a total screw-up. You’re a big failure.
I went from A (Great) to C (Worthless) in nothing flat. I skipped right over option B (Learning).
It seems that when we evaluate conflict with our emotions, often B gets TOTALLY skipped:
Either they were A (Caring) or C (Selfish). Option B: Struggling
Either I’m A (Nice and get walked on) or C (Mean and make enemies). Option B: I set boundaries and communicate honestly
Either my life A (Is Cool) or C (Sucks). Option B: An emerging Miracle
Life is so much kinder if we remember B.
My last two years of high school I was allowed to do a “daily devotion” on the intercom along with friend, Jackie, who did the announcements…until we had an on-the-air, full-blown argument about the necessity of baptism for salvation. Oops!
At that point, our principal came tearing down the hall with a look of horror on his face. After he ripped the microphone away from us, we were banned from the school intercom forever.
At the time, we thought he was such an insensitive, atheistic jerk! 🙂 (How little credit rational authority figures receive!)
Now I know how desperately I need “principals like him” in the form of critics, rejection letters, bosses and various recalcitrant relatives to add balance and maturity to my life.
What insight they can bring!
Awareness requires a rupture with the world we take for granted; then old categories of experience are called into question and revised. – Shoshana Zuboff (American Educator)
I like the word “rupture” that Zuboff uses here because it accurately reflects the violence of awareness. When I first made a commitment to a higher level of awareness, my foundations crumbled around me; the world was not as tidy and easily defined as I had formerly imagined and I was no longer separate from anyone else. Everyone mattered.
Then, because I cared more, I had to fight off despair over the depth of pain and suffering in the world.
The balance I found was to, first, approach the world with joy. There I received the energy needed to sustain compassion.