While working as a middle manager I was very irritated with my boss for not giving me the recognition I deserved until…in an awkward transaction, I realized my employees were irritated with me for the very same reason.
Since then, I have noticed how easy it is for me to totally blast away at someone else’s cluelessness while completely missing my own.
The following routine helps me be less of a nincompoop:
- Before I open my mouth with a swift condemnation for someone else, I ask myself (with the excruciating humility it takes to be completely honest), “Have I ever done anything similar?”
- If the answer is “Yes.” or, “I don’t know,” I postpone judgement. In most cases, my memory will pull up something embarrassing within a few hours. Then, I decide to show mercy to the offender (as I hope others will show mercy to me) before I move ahead.
- If the answer is no. I thank God that I dodged that bullet, ask myself if I can address the issue proactively, and then, show mercy to the offender. (I never know when I’ll need some mercy in the future.)
When I am with someone who says something critical about another person or group, I immediately;
1) Regret the times I have spoken harshly about others (without giving them an opportunity for rebuttal or explanation)
2) Feel compassion for the person or group being criticized
3) Feel compassion for the person criticizing
4) Hope for a more generous world where tolerance and the benefit of a doubt are readily available
If we only say things about others, in a manner that we wouldn’t mind someone saying the same about us, what a big shift in the airspace there would be…
When I am preoccupied with the faults of exes, politicians, competitors, or relatives, I may be with the majority, but it is the mediocre majority.
When I am preoccupied with the faults of others, I will be tied and bound to ineffectiveness, derailed from happiness, and blind to my own culpability.
When I am preoccupied with the faults of anyone, I will miss the best opportunities of my life while groveling for my own self-worth at the muddy feet of jealousy.
And even worse, by my example, I will pull others down with me, to wallow in the smug and dirty alleys of vanity.
In a recent, vivid dream, I was being treated with great care and attention in opulent surroundings. I loved the special feeling this gave me, yet, in the dream, I also knew the lavish treatment was frighteningly subject to change; based completely upon my money and allegiance.
On the other hand, in real life, I can be okay with “third-class treatment” if I am detached from others’ opinions of me. Not in-your-face, making-a-statement detached: instead, a healthy independence where I care about people simply to care about people (not to influence what I might get in return).
This is the purest state of peace I have ever known.
“To be angry at people means that one considers their acts to be important. It is imperative to cease to feel that way. The acts of humans cannot be important enough to offset our unchangeable encounter with infinity.” – Carlos Castaneda
Okay, I know these are radical statements, especially for those who suffer unspeakable injustices. Yet, Castaneda’s point warrants consideration in this political climate of hatred and fear, and in our personal lives where certain people drive us mad.
Even if you don’t agree with Castaneda, no one in their right mind can deny…
- it is difficult to take ourselves so seriously when we consider how temporary it all is
- inevitable death puts everything in perspective
- arguing with what is is useless
Save your energy. Be a change agent not a victim.
A little late for a revelation, I admit it, but recently, I ran smack into the truth that I was quite an over-reactor when it came to slights and insults. While all this time I thought…
- I was pretty mature
- People were wrong when they told me to chill
- Flying off the handle or collapsing into self-pity were legitimate ways to stand up for myself
Being aware of my hot-buttons and their origin (usually my ego) is quite an effective “coolant,” along with apologizing to offended parties, even though it is excruciatingly humiliating to own my pettiness and insecurities.
Occasionally, my nightmares illuminate my character, slapping me in the face with awareness; i.e., those dreams where I have the opportunity to save others’ lives, but, I chose to run and save my own skin instead. Or, when confronted with threats, I panic, turn into jelly, lie, or freak out.
Those dreams are alarms, letting me know that I have work to do on my inner life.
It is easy, and much more convenient to think that I am better than I really am, yet, dreams such as these put a stop to that nonsense.
Pronouncing our disgust with others and their decisions is easy.
Giving the benefit of the doubt until we know all of the facts is hard.
Have you ever felt the pain of being misunderstood?
Has someone you loved ever jumped to the wrong conclusion?
Has a stranger ever assumed you were less than what you were?
Been talked about behind your back?
Remembering this pain can motivate us to be more merciful…
…in our conversations
…on social media
…in our actions
…when reacting to the media and to gossip
An unwillingness to own the fallibility of our judgment is a source of much pain in this world; of innocent people being incarcerated and punished, and, of the ugliest bigotry and discrimination.
We have many opportunities to be bigger than that.
I thought I was communicating. Everyone else thought I was just talking.
You thought you were confident. They thought you were arrogant.
I thought I was being flexible. He thought I was indecisive.
You thought it was humility. She thought you were weak.
I thought I was showing self-respect. They thought it was annoying self-pity.
He thought it was candor. You thought it was painful criticism.
She thought it was cooperation. He saw it as compromise.
She thought she was helping. You thought she was interfering.
You thought it was love. She thought it was co-dependency.
By failing to define the fine line between these character traits, we invariably put our relationships, career, happiness, and productivity at risk.
Only the wise
the other side.