Seeing with fresh eyes

A sweet old photograph that I found in a second-hand shop

One of the things that I’ve noticed (both in myself and others) is when we’re trying to figure out why someone is acting in a way (that we don’t like) and we come up with all sorts of ideas defining them and their life: labels, diagnoses, and theories, then we can be sure that we’re the ones who are not happy in that moment.

Unhappy people are by far the most critical. Unhappy people are the most judgemental. Unhappy people are the most suspicious. Unhappy people try to figure out what is wrong with someone/something else, to feel superior themselves.

So when I catch myself thinking critical, judgemental, or suspicious thoughts, I stop the thought and ask myself what is happening with me in the moment, and then I try to become conscious of my own thinking, sometimes turning my mind away from the “troubling” person or situation, over and over until I am in a better state.

Everyone is mult-faceted. If I can only see the negative, then I’m the one I need to focus on. I’m the one who needs the help to change.

As we head into this holiday season and may be spending more time with people who we’ve had a tendency to see in “the same old way” (or at least will be thinking about them more than usual) it will be very helpful to watch our own thinking and feelings and even ask ourselves, “How can I see everyone and everything through happier, kinder, more generous eyes.” (and remember to put yourself at the top of that list!)

“Happy or unhappy, families are all mysterious. We have only to imagine how differently we would be described – and will be, after our deaths – by each of the family members who believe they know us”. Gloria Steinem

12 thoughts on “Seeing with fresh eyes

  1. Hi Mary,

    I’m close to someone who is much like you describe. A beautiful person with a very tough inner judge that is expressed through criticism of others.

    When I’m the target of the criticism, I’m learning to say “oof” right away, lightly, with a smile.

    I’m not saying, “You are a bad person.” I’m saying, “Ouch. I just got scratched.”

    I don’t wait until so much has been heaped on me that I am injured. I keep saying “oof” until I might have to say “enough” gently.

    Do you have any thoughts on how to help another person come to awareness that their inner judge is acting up? Without judging the judge?

    Love & Light,

    Valerie

    • Pages could be written about this Valerie, but what I’ve found (with some people who were like this on a regular basis) is that I slowly came to expect that they would be difficult (or critical) and so found myself “preparing” ahead of time how I would react to them. …since we get what we expect, the barbs kept coming. It always comes back to changing ourselves (sometimes that means taking a break from critical people who we’ve been in long-standing difficult situations with) so we can get a clearer center ourselves and then we go back as changed people. Once we’ve changed, no person (or situation) can stay the same around us.

  2. Mary, both your initial post and your response to Valerie, with whom I share very similar if not exact feelings with a child whom I raised as as a step-parent, I woke up this morning following an email from her yesterday in which I felt the old sense of frustration welling up in me and wondering why it is that I feel this way, what can I do about it, how do I respond. It is about how I am handling myself and truthfully, I have no answers. I feel that I need to understand why I feel frustrated with her behaviour and so far, I can’t get past the frustrated part. I have backed away over this past year to give myself some space but feel that if I can identify the reasons from my frustration, I may be better equipped to deal with her. I don’t know how to handle behaviour that keeps cropping up time and again and if I name it to her, I get blamed for not letting the past go. That, to me, translates into not accepting responsibility for her own behaviour. But also it translates into me copping out not being able to clearly identify my own frustration. I’m going around in circles like a hampster on a wheel.
    So, I’m still scratching my head, Mary, over this relationship. It’s sure challenging me.
    I’m trusting this doesn’t come in twice, as a blip occured in trying to post this.
    SandyP in Canada

  3. I love this post and it is something that I like/need to hear over and over again when I begin to slip into judging another. Because I know that the more awake I am, the less I do the judging and the less I feel slighted, disrespected, criticized, judged. I learned from you recently not to give the past new life…to free and clear my energy field of the past…my past as well as others past…living in THIS moment and expecting and visualizing a ‘new’ snapshot. And like you said recently, holding that thought and vision consistently and not just before an interaction with someone. Ive also learned from you that I don’t give up on relationships easily…hmmmm, perhaps I have never given up on a relationship…but I have learned to distance myself and in one case ‘let someone go’…and what a difference it has made…less heart space, less emotional turmoil, and a happier me! Thank you Mary! Thank you! XOXO

  4. Perhaps the key is in putting ourselves at the top of that list. I think the hardest part is having the awareness and making that adjustment in our attitudes. We may want to be happier, kinder and more generous, but old habits die hard, and we may beat ourselves up for not doing this “perfectly”. Also, relationships are often entrenched with their own inertia and it does take a commitment and constant vigilance to stay on track.
    Sometimes humor can do wonders.
    Also asking the question: How important is it?

  5. Great post, Mary. I’ll be thinking of this as I drive a couple of hours today to see my family. Like you, I’ve discovered that I tend to be petty and judgmental when unhappy, often when anticipating the criticism of others. It’s taken me many years, but I believe I’m finally learning to let those bad thoughts go, just a little! But you’re so right, looking into the mirror to see where they’re coming from within yourself is a worthy path to follow.

  6. Dear Mary. Thanks for reminding us to put ourselves at the top of the list for patience and understanding! So often, I catch myself being critical of others (and work to free myself and them of those judgements), but let slide the judging voice which finds fault with me. It really does all start with our own center of love and acceptance…loving myself is my biggest challenge.

  7. Good Morning Mary and WFF followers! I’ve been away for awhile, wrapped up in my daughter’s wedding. It was a beautiful event, and now I’m back to my morning routine. Thank you Mary, for reminding me, it starts with me.

  8. Such a sweet photo. Living in the moment.So very peaceful.I would have picked this up too! Thanks for the wonderful post Mary.

  9. Wow Mary, what timing of this (I’m reading it a few days late)…my Mom was with me visiting for the past week and only left yesterday. Of all the people in my family and life, she remains the most difficult to deal with…personality, opinions, negativity, etc…I know the key is remembering that I control how I react to what others say and do. While she arrived cranky, she left with a smile on her face…I like to think I had a positive effect on her…hope it stays with her for awhile.
    Everyone’s comments on this were so helpful and I love the quote!
    xoxo Marian

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