A couple of days ago, I listened to a spiritual leader talk about how we “terrorize” our minds by building up a case against people we don’t like or don’t see eye to eye with. She said, “It’s not them but it’s our thoughts about them that terrorize us.” It could be your next door neighbour, your local politician, a family member, or a colleague. Plainly put, it’s the idea of the “other”, ie, anyone whom we consider to be our adversary, that she was referring to. You may want to think of someone in your life that you think of as your adversary as you read the rest of this post, and see if you can change your relationship with that person by changing your mind.
I know many of us work with people that, for one reason or another, we don’t get along with. We spend inordinate amounts of time trying to justify this dislike or resentment and end up creating “terror” in our minds about that person. Wouldn’t it be better if we recognized that the “other”, whomever she or he may be, is just “another kid on the playground”? A kid who wants the same things I want: to be respected, included, recognized, valued, and loved? When the spiritual leader spoke these words I had a big aha moment. I recognized myself as the “terrorist” of my own mind. Unfortunately, I’ve been living this way for quite some time. Although I’ve tried to change my thinking before, I realize now that I’ve gone about it the wrong way. When I put the other person (I am thinking of someone specific here) in the perspective of just “another kid on the playground” who, like me, is looking for approval, my feelings towards that person soften; I realize I can change my mind, literally and figuratively, and let go of resentments and bad feelings. What’s amazing about this is that once you start thinking in this way you feel liberated from your negative thoughts, which carry a lot of dead weight and energy. They burden our minds and occupy our hearts and don’t do anybody, including ourselves, a bit of good.
By the way, this doesn’t mean that you now have to “love” this person. Rather, it is a recognition of the potential for good inherent in all people. The fact that some people can achieve “good” and others can’t doesn’t mean the latter aren’t capable of it. It simply means that they don’t know how to get what they want and need. If it helps place this in a concrete perspective, think Maslow and the hierarchy of needs. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs for more information.
I have written this post in a very abstract way. That is, I haven’t given any specific examples but I don’t feel I have to because I know we can all give a name to the “kid on the playground”. Try it. Think of someone you aren’t getting along with and try this simple exercise of thinking about him/her as just “another kid on the playground” who’s looking for the same things you are. It’s amazing but it works! If you try it out, please leave a comment about how it went.