Sunday, April 3, 2016

4/4/16—Stepping Outside Our Story

Being objective—taking yourself out of the equation and seeing things through fair and balanced eyes—is, I think, one of the hardest things people learn on their spiritual path. 

There are two contexts I'll use to illustrate why. Of course this depends on peoples' beliefs, but I'd venture to say most people reading this will agree:

  1. We are all here for a reason and we walk different paths based on that reason... and we all come here with different struggles to overcome and pains to heal. 
  2. There is a higher power that is good and is the one true higher power.  
Now, while most people can agree on those points, many of us struggle to find our balance, fairness and impartiality on those points. Because when something happens that involves us, we often "complete the story" in our minds. Our brain likes answers and we give them to it. And those answers usually involve ourselves because we see the thing as happening TO ourselves, rather than something that someone did BECAUSE OF their own issues. Here's what I mean.

Let's pretend you have a "mean" and "immature" boss. Well if you believe we're all here for a reason, that boss is on a path just like you are, and they're just in a different place along that path. They may be ahead of you in, say, manifesting success and behind you in treating everyone like a beloved lamb of God, for example. And maybe you allow them that, because you understand that's their path. 
But let's say they make you take the blame for something they did at work. In that moment (and all moments afterward, probably) you might have a tendency to dehumanize them. They are no longer on a path and struggling just like you. They have been after you for years, stealing all your ideas. They are a monster, demented, abusive and something must be done about them. Bad monster! MEAN monster!!!! SICK MONSTER!!!!

OK, that example is a little dramatic, but admit it. You do that. You've done that. We all have.

Being objective in our beliefs requires us to move past that kind of "us and them" thinking. Having integrity in the belief that all humans are here on a spiritual path that is uniquely their own and not for us to judge, means allowing the "monster" their imperfection. It means understanding that your vulnerabilities may have been triggered, but not in some plot to undermine you. When you see the boss as someone who is so pained by insecurity that they can't take responsibility for their actions, well gosh, haven't we all been there at some point in our lives? Aren't we kind of there in that moment of dehumanizing them?

Being fair means realizing that others struggle just like we do. It means looking into that person's eyes and seeing yourself, even if their lessons are not yours to learn in this lifetime and even if they're way behind schedule learning it and even if they hurt you in the process. Because, let's face it, we all have something crappy to deal with on our plate that someone else skates effortlessly past. For me, one of those things is my struggle with my weight. Something so easy for many of you—moderate diet and exercise—is something I feel powerless against and overwhelmed by. 

Being fair and balanced is allowing everyone else their own crap, even if they are a serial killer. Yes. Even if they're a serial killer. It doesn't mean you have to be their friend. Doesn't mean you have to approve of their behavior. And it doesn't mean their actions don't hurt or piss you off. It just means that if you believe we're all here for a reason and can't judge another's path, then you can't judge their path and label them a monster. You can't continue to see them as something separate from you. Because they're not. They ARE you. They're a spirit struggling in their human skin, just as you are. They're simply learning different lessons and having different difficulties than you in this lifetime. 

If you believe in reincarnation, you will, in one lifetime or another, do something so heinous that you will be reviled, too. We all have it in us. Thank god only a few of us have to go there this time around. And thank God their issues aren't your cross to bear this time around. Your issues are the ones triggered by their behavior and it's not their fault you were triggered. Your issues are your responsibility, just as theirs are theirs. Your feelings are a byproduct of what they did, but the fact that you see the situation as "them vs me" is all on you. THAT is why you feel hurt and taken advantage of. You see it as something they did to you rather than something that emanated out of their own pain and unhealedness. It was about them, not you. Being able to see that is the "distance" both healing and objectivity give you. 

And yes, it's really hard to remove yourself from the situation. But it is possible. For example, being dumb isn't one of my insecurities. So if someone accuses me of just not having the intelligence to grasp a concept, it won't poke at something unhealed within me. I can freely admit when I'm ignorant about something or when something is over my head, because I know I'm a smart person. So I can remove myself from the situation much easier because I don't have any fears around that part of my being. 

Allowing others their stuff is a hard one and probably one we'll always have to work on. So is the next one...the one about God is good and there is only one God.

Years back I had a terrible dislike of anything Christian. I saw Christians, in general, as misguided hypocrites who talk about Christ like he's his Father (I still don't understand that one) and preach about forgiveness and non-judgment in the same breath as they tell you you're going to burn in hell for being a non-believer. Certainly that was my experience, as seen through my lens at the time.

Meanwhile, I would talk about MY god and how MY god was the SAME god as their god, but MY god was nicer and wouldn't burn anyone in hell. And I'd wonder, "why can't those hypocrites see that my god and their god are the same god, but we just see him through different eyes?"

I should have been asking that question of myself, right? Because if I was fair and balanced in my assessment that there is only one god—a god adept enough to show itself to us in different flavors to accommodate the free will we have here on earth—then I would love their god, too. Because there is no "my" god and "their" god. There is only one god. And instead of looking for the hypocrisy within their beliefs, I'd look in their eyes and see that the love and reverence and hope they had Him all wrapped up in was the exact same as mine. If I were truly fair and balanced and impartial and walking in integrity with my belief, I would allow them their god and their beliefs and their struggles on their paths with their beliefs, rather than see them as something outside of me, different than me, less than me.

It doesn't mean I don't still see hypocrisies and inconsistencies in the beliefs of others, just as my earlier point doesn't mean I don't see when people are acting unkindly or unfairly. What it means is that I'm honest enough to see the hypocrisies and inconsistencies in my own beliefs and behaviors—no belief system is bullet proof. And I'm fair enough in my assessment of others to see that they're struggling and in pain just like me. Just with different stuff. And, of course, there are still times when something hits on something unhealed within me and I lose my objectivity. But now I at least know when I'm doing that.

So those are the two examples I can think of on the spiritual path where people think they're being fair and impartial and good and right and are totally missing the mark. We're quick to recognize it when it's "them" that's doing it, but not so quick when it's us. And while you may not believe as I do, but I'll bet you can apply this to your beliefs, as well.

Years back, I was told that anything that causes an immediate and emotional reaction from me is something I need to look at further, because there is something left unhealed. You've probably heard that, too. I have found over time, that it's a) very true and b) hard to see the truth of when we're embroiled in the moment and still emotional. Sometimes people are trying to offend us, right? Sure. But it is still only about them...unless they hit on something where we're unhealed, then we *make* it about us. When we step back and understand that we're a completing an unknown story in such a way that it offends our sensibilities, rather than in a way that see the situation as being all about the other person, that's when we know we're on the path to healing.