So much of life is about relationships. Even when we aren’t thinking about it we are totally immersed in relationship. You may go to the store to buy eggs all by yourself but in that act you are in no way alone. There are the store owners, the store workers, the truck drivers who bring in the eggs, the farmers who keep the chickens, the people who provide the chicken feed – heck, even the chickens! Heck, heck, even the worms that grow the food the chickens wind up eating!
Our whole existence really is about relationships. And the quality of our lives is HUGELY affected by the quality of our relationships. And here’s what’s really amazing, challenging and useful: Every feeling we have about our “out there” relationships reflects WHERE WE’RE At in RELATIONSHIP TO OURSELVES!
You know how sometimes that trip to the store for eggs is just great and maybe you even have a nice chat with the checker or another shopper? And then the next time the trip is a chore and everything seems delayed and you get irritated and cranky? Usually the differences in those experiences have way less to do with what’s going on at the grocery store than what’s going on inside of you!
Relationships with others mirror what we’re feeling about ourselves. Was the checker really that bad or were you preoccupied and worried about something that had nothing to do with eggs?
Nowhere is this more clear, and powerful, than in those relationships with family, friends, co-workers – anyone that really matters to us. And when those relationships are in difficulty the mirrors are the clearest and most informative.
I’ll give you a personal example. Recently I had a run in with a family member that bothered me for weeks. I asked for a personal favor and was turned down because this person thought I ought to be trying to handle the problem differently. I felt judged, rejected and embarrassed for being in a position to need to ask for help in the first place.
I was so uncomfortable about it all that I pulled back from the entire relationship and ran the events over and over in my mind. I was angry and hurt, and annoyed that I kept thinking about it! It’s said rejection leads to obsession and I was basically obsessing.
Finally, determined to let it go, I had a breakthrough. I realized the negative judgment hurt so much because I partially believed it about myself! I felt like a failure for needing to ask for help. I felt vulnerable. I felt rejected and disempowered. By focusing on what wasn’t working in my life instead of the 90% that was going great I had amped my own insecurity and critical self-judgment to such a point that I bought into the rejection from someone who didn’t even really know the situation. THE ONLY THING THAT GAVE THAT PERSON’S NEGATIVE OPINION ANY WEIGHT WAS MY OWN NEGATIVE OPINION ABOUT MYSELF!
I am now hugely grateful for this outer relationship irritation and discomfort because it helped me better understand and improve my self-relationship – and, at the end of the day NOTHING has a bigger impact on our lives than that. If there is anything I know for sure, it’s that NOTHING HAS A GREATER IMPACT ON OUR HAPPINESS or torment, our hope or despair, our success of failure than our true, deep beliefs about, and how we interact with, our Selves (Capital “S” intended).
There’s a story about how a man named Akkosa was hurling terrible insults and criticism at the Buddha. Buddha was unmoved by the barrage of nastiness and calmly asked, “You know how people sometimes give gifts?” Akkosa snapped that yes of course he did. Then Buddha calmly asked, “If the person doesn’t accept that gift who does it belong to then?” “Well, it still belongs to the giver of course!”, Akkosa snorted. Buddha then replied, “Well, I do not accept the insults and abuse you have tried to give me today, so who really owns them?”
AND NO ONE CAN MAKE US FEEL ANY CERTAIN WAY. Only we choose how we will feel about the other person’s action or reaction to us. Even that oh-so-awful feeling of rejection is something we choose to take on or not. Taking responsibility for our feelings takes back our power.
Glass mirrors reflect our outer appearance. RELATIONSHIPS REFLECT OUR VIEWS ABOUT OURSELVES. Only we have the power to decide how we see, feel about and project those reflections.
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