August 8, 2022- The masked man snapped, “Don’t be smiling at ME, mister!”, as I went to pass him and his friend, the Feeding Coordinator at a local church, while cleaning up after helping serve a meal for the homeless. The hapless woman introduced us, in hope of de-escalating the matter, then scrunched her face and walked away. Masked Man then got his walking stick and left without another word. My smile was because I felt happy, nothing more.
I am reading Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements”, before passing it on to a family member, who I think could also benefit from his premises. The agreements discussed are those we make with society, which cloud our judgment and limit our thinking.
The one I read today was regarding taking things personally. Don Miguel correctly, in my view, points out that taking offense at someone’s adverse comments or actions is rooted in self-centeredness. If someone calls me “stupid”, it only works its dark magic if I already doubt my own intelligence. What a person says, or does to, another is really reflective of her/himself, and own issues, rather than of the recipient.
I am quite steady, anymore, through either sunshine or rain. It wasn’t always that way. I could easily come unglued, if someone made negative comments about me or acted as if I were a lesser being. That all gradually came to an end, over the past four years, with the realization of exactly what Don Miguel discusses in this book. What is about me, is how I view myself, independently of anyone else’s input. The crucible was the intrusion into my life of a viciously judgmental individual, for whom the smallest error was grounds for a screaming dressing-down. After being physically injured by the individual,albeit through psychic energy, it came to me that only completely cutting off all contact-which I was so quick to advise others to do, over the course of my career, would guarantee my safety.
That was an extreme case, and my cutting off contact with the individual did not meet with the approval of a few friends, but no matter. My greater task, indeed the greater task of all of us, is to work towards full potential, to develop those attributes that will sustain the soul in the world beyond.
The woman at the church tersely thanked me for having helped, this once, and said “See you…around”. My efforts were at the behest of another friend, who asked me to help there once before. That appearance also ended on a sour note-but that’s another story. I may go back and help, next Monday, just because I believe in the effort being made. If I get the same response as this evening’s, maybe it’ll be better to leave the group to themselves-but at least I will know, it’s not me who has the problem.
Absolute truth. The view of others concerning me is theirs not mine. And as such does not concern me. Having survived a hostile work environment, I learned that I could not allow others to dictate my opinion of myself nor let them determine my mood or attitude. I took ownership of my emotions and my reactions. It was a life saver!
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Most of the time, it is coming from people who were abused and neglected in their own childhoods. This is something that may well be with us, for a good long time, but I do see more kids who are well-adjusted and who take an active role in ensuring their own well-being.
Our own reactions are so important in our well-being. I recently learned the hard way that if somebody tries to shame me into a particular action, my response is the exact opposite of that which was intended.I know it’s a lesson I should have learned years ago, but I think it’s a mistake I won’t now continue to make!
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Exactly-Let none of us be slaves to the whims of others.