This Michael Jackson lyric has been in my mind all week long. It’s really a powerful thought if we are open to it – everything that pisses us off about someone else… is just another part of ourselves that we have disowned in some way. Every other person, their behavior that triggers us, is just another part of ourselves.
It’s much harder to read the label on the bottle from the inside. In other words, it’s a whole lot easier to spot the projection in another person than it is to see in ourselves. Just this week I witnessed someone snipe defensively with blame at another person, and then within minutes – do the same exact thing they had jumped the other person for doing and they never caught it that they were repeating what they had just minutes earlier criticized. When we can become awake and aware of our own shit – it’s really quite entertaining!
The holidays are upon us and this means we may be exposed to family members that we don’t see all that often or maybe we see them regularly. Family can certainly bring up a wide range of emotions! In this scenario, the realization that relatives are literally, genetically, “just another part of me” can help us let them off the hook and in doing so, let ourselves off the hook emotionally as well.
Sometimes other people simply show us what or who we DON’T want to be. No need to judge, blame, point out their faults. We can instead just observe. Notice. And choose another route. I’m not saying you will be able to do this 100% of the time, but even 51% of the time means you are empowered and staying on your own side of the emotional street where you can actually make a difference.
If you consider the example of Jesus… he looked past the things we humans label as “flaws”, shortcomings, wrong-doing. His example of seeing only the light in everyone is really what leadership is about. Leaders look for potential, the positive intent, what’s “right” about people and their positive aspects. By doing this they bring out the best in others and also in themselves. And when they see that a person or situation is not living up to it's potential - they do what they can to help move things in that direction.
This sounds so much simpler than it plays out! What we stumble on is the fact that in order to look for only the positive aspects in others – we’d first have to do that same thing towards ourselves. We zero in on what we deem unacceptable about others because that is exactly what we do to ourselves. We talk about our “flaws” our shortcomings, how our bodies are unacceptable in some way, what we aren't great at, how we don't measure up, bla, bla, bla.
You’re going to hear yourself either mentally or verbally weighing in on the “flaws” of others in the next couple of weeks. I know this, because it's part of the human condition. Just know that is as normal as apple pie. The unfocused mind has a biological thing called “negative bias” and if you aren’t focusing your mental state, your survival instinct of negative bias is running the show. Seeking out what’s the worst in people, situations, and yourself. If this sounds like a horrible way to live, consider that most of the world operates without focusing their perspective. This means that most of the world is running on negative bias. Looking for what is the worst in themselves, other people and situations.
When you hear this chatter, don’t try to stop it. It's simply information for you – just notice that it’s happening. You might just be repeating a pattern of behavior or response from your past unconsciously and unintentionally. Terri Cole suggests that you ask yourself three questions:
1. Where have I felt like this before?
2. Why is this dynamic familiar to me?
3. Who does this person (or people) remind me of?
You might also ask yourself – this behavior in the other person that is getting to me... 4. Where do I do this same thing? The tricky part is that the reason for this question is NOT to blame yourself or be a martyr or a victim. It is to see what possible lesson is being served up for you in this person or circumstance. I know for me, recently I felt as though the other person was pointing out all my shortcomings, even telling me how I oughtta be different. When I took a breath and looked at it, I knew that I had actually not only done that same thing to that person – but it’s EXACTLY what the chatter in my head towards myself looks and sounds like much of the time. The lesson, quite frankly, is almost always that you need to love more. Either yourself, or others, or most likely...BOTH.
I don’t make new year’s resolutions. Probably because I am constantly test driving new ideas and personal growth stuff on myself 24/7, 365 days a year! I very recently had some dark days and the level of that darkness was matched by an equal level of clarity and realizations on the other side of it. What I can see clearly is that what I most need to give myself, is also what I most desire to give to others a window into seeing within their own journey…
So, it’s Christmas. The celebratory season of the birth of Jesus – who provided the ultimate great example of making the choice to just love. To focus your view (and mind) on the positive aspects and the love of us. We certainly strive as human beings to give this to others, and I am asking you to also (even more importantly) give it to yourself. Focus your gaze on what is amazing about you, the gifts you were given to share, like your smile, your love, your light.
I recently heard Fr. Richard Rohr explaining why we light trees for Christmas – “to show that everything, even the trees, are lit from within and full of light.” Give yourself the gift this season to let your light shine. Big and bright for all to see what is within you. This will almost automatically focus you on looking for the light in others. And if you look – you will find it, because it's there in all of us.
Sandy Edie Hansen
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