The desire to psychoanalyze people; to figure out why they are the way that they are, why they do or say, or don’t do or say, certain things, is quite possibly one of the most destructive habits that I’ve engaged in….and it used to be one of my favorite things to do. I cannot even bear to think of the untold hours I’ve spent in this useless activity of the little mind.
And of all of the hours, days, and years that I spent in this frivolous mind-activity, very few were spent thinking, “I wonder why that person is so kind, happy, considerate, honest, helpful, generous, thoughtful, giving, non-defensive, open, lovely….!?”
No. Most of my psychoanalysis was trying to figure out why they were not the kind of person that I thought they “should” be.
I saw one day, that even though this way of thinking made my egoic mind happy for a little while (“We’ve figured that one out”! it would say, feeling so smart and smug) it wasn’t a lasting thing…since it wasn’t the Truth. It was just a little box that made my little, fear-filled, mind feel secure for a few minutes. If I imagined that someone didn’t treat me well, or didn’t act in a way that I found acceptable, then I could separate them from myself by putting them in a little box, labeled, “Messed Up”, and if I couldn’t figure out what was specifically wrong with them (in that moment) then the generic label was fine…. I’d come back to them later, possibly at 2 a.m. when I couldn’t sleep and was feeling desperate and needed to search for the cause of my misery.
This approach to life never leads to more happiness. Looking for what is wrong with others only leads to seeing more of what is wrong with them, and with ourselves….then we think we need to find new people who won’t hurt, offend, or take advantage, of us. We think we’ll be happy when we find “them”….but we never find them, since we are searching for their opposites.
I can’t say that I have turned this old habit of mine (habit of mind!) completely around, but I’m much quicker at catching it and saying, “I don’t go there anymore”, to my mind when it wants to dissect someone’s life or some situation that I’m unhappy about. It is my intention to get so good, at never looking for the bad, that I will someday be amazed that I ever did it….and I love this thought.
“The sun shines and warms and lights us and we have no curiosity to know why this is so; but we ask the reason of all evil, of pain, and hunger, and mosquitoes and silly people“. Ralph Waldo Emerson