How calloused of me to expect human beings to be “normal” when most of us have gone through debilitating pain.
How naïve of me to expect people to be “mature” when most of us were raised by flawed and confused adults.
How short-sighted of me to be intolerant of people who are trying their hardest to make sense of their own crazy circumstances.
I swatted unsuccessfully at a fly in my house. Two days later, the fly was still following me around like a pet. In a few more days he would be dead on the windowsill, so I tried to lead him to the door, which, of course, did not work.
The fly reminded me of me as a corporate employee:
- I got swatted a couple of times for stupid stuff.
- Afterwards, I pretended to be a friend of management (while bad-mouthing them behind their backs).
- Unable to forget the swats, I resisted their efforts to help me (which were legitimate).
- Eventually, I would end up in the “corporate graveyard.”
We so often resist those who offer us insight: bosses, exes, family, friends, authority figures, teachers, co-workers, etc., while flitting around with frantic, clueless self-preservation efforts.
No one is listening when we…
But, we keep doing it, with irrational hope, ignorance, or annoying arrogance.
Suggested alternatives (only if we want to be heard):
- Ask more questions.
- Mirror emotions.
- Listen without interrupting.
- Drop our agenda and just be present.
While teaching a management class, one of the participants continuously spouted off condemnations against his boss, his company, stupid coworkers, and the “tragically unmotivated younger generation.” When solutions were offered for one of his complaints, he shut it down with a standard reply; “It won’t work. Tried that. You can’t fix stupid.”
He reminded me of me; of the times I refused to listen to anyone who challenged me to take responsibility for change.
As much as we hate a Know-It-All, sometimes the Know-It-All is us.
To keep myself from throwing cold water on others’ suggestions, I am learning to say:
Tell me more about that.
What am I missing?
By disabling my shut-down switch, I listen, learn, and grow up.
“If you have time to whine and complain about something, then you have the time to do something about it.”
That might sound trite…until we calculate the astonishing amount of time that we have wasted whining and complaining.
With just a little of that wasted time, I have found that I can…
- Ask the Universe for wisdom and help
- Offer what I do have without complaining about what I don’t
- Seek out mentors and inspiration to counteract my feeling of helplessness
- Decide to do what I don’t want to do
- Take a baby-step toward something meaningful
Probably worth the discipline it takes to watch what I say…
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.