We form opinions, mistrust, make assumptions and even make up stories to explain other people's attitude and behavior in order for them to make sense to us. He was born with a silver spoon. Her husband doesn't pay attention to her; he must be cheating and she knows it. That kid is trouble; he is probably off his meds. She has a chip on her shoulder. He thinks he's better than everyone else. These are some of the tales we make up – and spread – based on our limited interpretation of others. We even take it further. We look at others with squinty eyes looking for their hidden intentions. We become defensive and create doubt in our interactions. We assume we are being lied to, taken advantage of, that the other wants to win one over us or take something from us.
We fail to see that the other is just as confused, fearful and insecure as we are. They may sound sure of themselves. They may even act it. That's because they want to create what they think is a good impression, do not want their insecurity to come through or believe that this is the way they should act. We respond in ego in return. This clash of egos creates more cynicism, misunderstanding and separation. It is us versus them mentality. There can be no real collaboration as long as we continue to think this way. While we think the other wants something and we in turn want something ourselves we will not fully come to peaceful solutions to business negotiations, changes that must be implemented in our communities, disagreements between neighbors, conflicts between nations, tugs-of-war between divorced parents, discord in employee relations, standstills, opposition between groups that want the same thing, disharmony among family members and friction in every day interactions with others. We will not give rise to the most creative solutions we are capable of. We limit what we offer. We can't do better because to reach our level best ideas requires openness of mind and of heart, it requires giving up egoic thinking, fairness, that we see through the eyes of the other and that we revise our intentions to include well-being for all involved.
Today is a good day to stop ourselves at the point of criticism and try to understand the other. If we can't, then let's stop there and admit that we are judging and ask for guidance and help. A silent request of surrender and willingness. Aid will come. As will grace and a feeling of peace. Let us not take others so personally. Let us today come without defensiveness, see with fresh eyes, act from a place of gratitude, a willingness to participate in making things better and enjoy what we give and what we receive in terms of growth, expansion of our spirits and increased well-being.
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