It came to my attention that I very much do the things that I judge wrong in others. Opening up to this arrogance and actually making statements such as “I can’t say I don’t do that” or asking myself, “Where do I do that in my life?” has deepened my understanding of myself. This in turn brings a deeper quality to my relationships with others as I am now able to be with them and not the perceived pictures I have formed in my mind of who they are, based on their actions. My actions may not be the same as others, but when I ask, “Where do I do that?’’, I am asking about the feeling of the action and if that action also plays out in my life. Chances are that if I am reacting to another person’s actions then I am in some way doing the same thing, OR I have done the same but have yet to learn the full impact of what that choice has on others.
- I may feel angry towards someone trying to show off, yet I sometimes show off in other parts of my life.
- I may get upset when a person is acting small and not standing up for what they feel, yet I shrink in areas of my life and play small. Asking myself, “Why do I do this – what is it that I am getting out of playing small?” allows me to come to terms with, understand and accept my choices, then make the adjustments that are required to change my stance.
- I may feel angry with someone who barges into a situation like they know everything when they haven’t gotten to know how things work. At first, I may react, but once I ask myself, “Where do I do that?” I often remember a previous situation where I did exactly the same thing… coming in like I knew everything. I then get to feel the flipside of the situation. And I can also see this play out every time I give advice that comes with any sort of judgment towards the person, in thinking that I know everything – it is the same thing.
When I ask myself “Where do I do that?”, there is a magic at play that is perfectly ordered and arranged for me to experience a situation in life that answers the question – such as the memory of how I was in a previously similar situation, or simply by the moment coming around again, but this time my catching it rather than examining the reaction in hindsight. Wherever we place our focus it’s like that part of life starts to become magnified, – like playing ‘Spot the Mini (or any other type of car)’ game where once you start looking, you see Mini cars everywhere, – and this is no different for self-reflection.
What I am learning now is that remaining in the arrogance of “I don’t do that!” feels horrible within my body when compared to the openness, curiosity and willingness to understand myself that asking “Where do I do that?” brings.
Trying to hold onto the fact that I am an individual that is separate from the actions of others is very exhausting and becomes a strain on all relationships. Acting individual also prevents me from appreciating the reflections and lessons I am receiving from others. And yet sadly “I don’t do that!” is a stance that is generally accepted in life. Making comments about another person’s abilities for example, comes with this tone of “I don’t do that” and “I am better thus have the right to comment.”
The fact is we are human and no one is perfect. There can at times be a ruffling of feathers, but there is an ease within me that comes from the understanding I now have. I understand that it’s not pleasant facing your own reflection from the “I don’t do that” stance to looking into the “I actually do that as well” mirror. This is where acceptance, allowing and the appreciation of being willing to see our imperfections can be of great support.
The more I understand why I do something, the less I react to other people – and the deeper I appreciate them for being in my life, the more I am willing to look into the mirror. I absolutely love it as I stop judging myself for that behaviour and I equally stop judging others. They may continue the behaviour but it doesn’t affect me like it used to.
I have learnt so much from the reflection of others and it has been a deeply beautiful experience to stop and look at myself in another – to see and feel the behaviours and energy that make up me in another. It has shown me that we are not truly individual and that we are connected. If I am ever confused or annoyed about something in another, every time now I take it back to myself, there is so much more understanding and then I am not constantly living in reaction, blame or judgment of myself or anyone else. The less reaction and judgment in my life, the greater the appreciation for others and for allowing myself to be a student of life and being open to learning what life is presenting for me and all of us to learn.
By Leigh Matson, London, UK