I’ve never considered myself easy to get along with. I’m not sure if this was something I was told as a young child, and then just grew to believe or what, but I’ve always been strong-willed and opinionated, and it seemed to me that people like this were more challenging to be around.
Anyway, I was talking to a family member about this a while back and he said, “You are much better than you used to be.” Then he added, “I like the way I am. I’ve always been easy-going.” I bit my lip and said nothing, but I wanted to yell, “Are you kidding?!” Then he asked, “Don’t you think I’m easy going?” I answered, “Well, you’re a lot better than you used to be.” We both laughed, but neither laugh was genuine.
Later that evening, I thought about what I’d said to him and even though it was the truth, he was much easier to be around, I’d really wanted to say, “You may be easier now but in the past you have been incredibly difficult, opinionated, bossy, rigid…” But as I thought about this, another thought came to mind, “He really is different now. He is much easier to be around, so why do I want him to acknowledge that he wasn’t like this in the past? What difference does that make?”
I could see that I was dragging the past into the present. There was a part of me that didn’t want to see him through new eyes. I didn’t want to let him off the hook. I was oddly invested in keeping our entire past history active in my mind, even though a lot of it was difficult (for both of us) and even though I wanted him to see me as changed. It is no wonder that I’ve felt conflict in our relationship. It also became clear that I’d been keeping myself on that hook too, stubbornly holding onto many of the same hurtful memories about my own shortcomings.
If I want to feel harmony, peace, and happiness within but insist on holding onto past judgments, prejudices, resentments, and hurts, I am going to continue to have those two sides (of me) battling. Jane Roberts coined the phrase, “The point of power is in the Now”, over 30 years ago, but it is a spiritual truth that has been taught for thousands of years. Practically speaking, I believe this means that we have the ability to see and to experience ourselves, and everyone else, as who and what we are in this moment.
A question that I ask myself, when I’m experiencing a conflict, is, “Are you so sure that you are seeing this person/situation accurately?” If I’m honest with myself, the answer is always, “No”, because the next question is, “Are you willing to see them/it differently?” When I answer, “No”, that is a sure sign that I am living in the past. But when I say, “Yes” (even when I cannot imagine a perspective different from the one I am currently holding onto) I begin to feel a new kind of peace and openness. I don’t even need to see what that new perspective is because I can sense it. Sometimes the conflict just falls away and I forget it. At other times, a more expanded vision takes the place of the old, but either way, I am free. I am living in the NOW.
“Living in the past is a failure method and a violation of spiritual law.” pp.31 The Game of Life and How to Play It, Florence Scovel Shinn