I once met a man who acted exactly like me and I couldn’t stand him. This is the God’s honest truth. As I stood there slack-jawed, watching this person complain, blame, and throw a tantrum, I was both amused and horrified. His behavior was not just disruptive to his own agenda, it was interfering with the duties of those around him. As he flailed about it dawned upon me that all of his energy was being used on the opposite of what he said he wanted; getting the job done. I was a year and a half past my most self destructive behavior when this happened, and I was grateful for having witnessed it. I’d never been so stunned in my life. I was this man; selfish, self-centered, and looking for excuses in my environment that could perpetuate my behavior. I felt sick. I also felt fortunate.
Do I really feel we see ourselves in others? Yes. There is a way to use this observation to great advantage, and it’s probably not what you think it is. Most people don’t want to openly admit their mistakes or flaws, preferring instead to keep a mental note of what not to repeat should similar situations arise. Fair enough, though the benefits of humility, trust, and respect will flourish when one is quick to admit error to those it has inconvenienced. Since it is rather painful to look at what annoys us the most and try to find that part of ourselves that aligns with what needs purged, I would suggest an entirely different path. Look instead to everyone around you and seek out what is good, beautiful, perfect, and pleasant. In turn you will subconsciously elevate those same qualities in yourself. There is no need to evaluate the “bad” in others when observing the “good” will benefit you more. Don’t get me wrong, just as the beginning of this essay pointed out, I was glad to discover what needed changed. I think it’s easy to see that if I were to be in constant (negative) judgment, and then go on to justify this state of mind by announcing that I was in search of myself, my ego would simply take over and I would revert to thinking I couldn’t be nearly as “broken” as those I was witness to.
Do not the best of us also see nothing but the best in others? Do not the most negative see nothing but an imperfect and broken world? Think about that for a moment. History has its examples just as our own families and colleagues provide theirs. Consider this, I believe that redemption is available to the worst of us; because if it isn’t available to the worst of us, then is isn’t available to any of us. What this means to me is that there is good in everyone, and I mean EVERYONE. The harder we look for it in others the more we must express it in our own lives. This practice lends itself to a life of love, tolerance, forgiveness, compassion, and empathy. All of man’s struggles seem to arise from the absence of these five qualities. Let’s not let the opposite determine our actions..
With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood