The other day, I was talking with a family member who was going on about how unfairly excluded his wife had been from his family. He said the last straw was when she wrote a letter to the one family member, who had originally been welcoming to her, but this woman had also, in the end, snubbed her. He and his wife were genuinely confused and angry by what they saw as such unfriendly and “exclusive” behaviour on the part of his entire family. He said, “I know we haven’t been the best people, but we aren’t the worst either.”
And yet, seeing from a more detached perspective, it is clear that they both are only experiencing (in the apparent behaviour of “others”) an outpicturing of their own minds. What they see on the outside is truly what they feel about themselves,… and how they behave toward others. They are afraid of getting snubbed, so they don’t attend family functions, even when invited, and blame others for their isolation. They never believe that anyone truly loves or likes them since they really don’t like themselves. Both feel a lot of guilt (even though this is well-hidden) for years of heavy drinking and all of the “unseemly” behaviour and lack of clear judgement that went along with that lifestyle.
They have been harshly judged, but nothing can compare to the judgement they have lived with in their own minds….but they aren’t able or willing to see this yet, so they push it out and it comes back multiplied, in the behaviour of others. They think they need to protect themselves from any more insults and hurts, and in response, their world gets smaller, tighter, and actually more painful, since they are shutting themselves up with their own clouded, critical minds.
I don’t know why is seems so much easier to blame others than to look at ourselves. Blaming anyone (including ourselves) is hell. Treating the world like a huge, friendly, kind, mirror, designed to show us where we are contracting (by believing a victim’s story) or expanding into a larger, happier, more joy-filled life, is an exciting way to live….and it can save years of therapy, misery, pain, and loss of relationship.
What I think is being done to me, I am doing to myself. What I think about others, I am really thinking about myself. Once I accepted this Truth, life opened up to me in what seemed like miraculous ways.
I still trip up, still find myself blaming people for what I am feeling, at times still feel like an innocent victim, still listen to the very unhappy, rejected, angry, stories that my mind tosses up to me, wondering if I’ll grab onto one and run with it. Just yesterday, I called a friend but he didn’t return my call and my mind started to say, “I’m not sure he is that great a friend. I am always available when he wants to talk but when I need help…..” I stopped myself, sat down, and said out loud, “This is an unhappy story. Do you really want to entertain it Mary?” This question made me smile. I said to my mind, “You are a pain in the ass sometimes! Do you know that?”…and it laughed.
My friend called back an hour later.
The weekend is here again. What would it be like if you refused to believe any unhappy story for just 72 hrs? What if you just noticed your mind trying to get you to believe some tale of woe, and you refused to join it? What if you held fast to your image of heaven, and refused to traipse into hell, just because you were invited?
“Man surrounds himself with the true image of himself. Every spirit builds itself a house and beyond its house a world, and beyond its world a heaven. Know then that the world exists for you. …What we are, that only can we see.” Ralph Waldo Emerson