When you point your finger away from yourself, you'd better be looking in a mirror.
What we see surrounding us, what we see in the actions of others is a direct reflection of what we see and feel about ourselves. This can be a tough pill to swallow sometimes. How can the rude woman on her phone in the checkout line reflect how I feel about myself? Well, we could begin by looking at the assumptions we are making as to why she is using her phone. Perhaps her child is sick. Maybe her dog just got hit by a car. This call could be urgent.
"No,"comes your retort,"I've just heard her talking about what happened last night on the latest episode of (insert reality tv show here)." Again, question your assumptions. How are you judging her choice of entertainment? Why does it matter to you how a complete stranger spends their free time? And why are you listening to her conversation so closely? What do the answers to these questions say about you? Growth happens one question at a time.
Are you getting the hang of this? Let's look at another common scenario; well, common to me: dinner time.
You've planned all of the meals for the week. You've made a list of the needed ingredients. You've inconveniently hiked the kids through the grocery store on a weekday evening out of necessity to fill an empty fridge. You've had to promise them to look at toys or purchase treats to reward their good behavior as you trudge under glaring fluorescent lights, amongst rows of sugary, salty snacks that leave your kids begging for their purchase. Your "No, honey. Lets keep going" grows sharper and less accommodating with each plea for Go-Gurt and Goldfish crackers. And you haven't even gotten to the milk. Or the bread. Or the eggs. Stuck in the middle somewhere, you head towards the toy aisle early because the hour is getting late. And the subsequent meal - tacos again because they are a family favorite - is the result of this previous drudgery.
Planned, prepared and placed on the table. Getting cold. Waiting for your partner to get home. Even though your agreed-upon schedule suggests an ETA around 5pm, even though this tardiness is commonplace in your home, even though you've planned dinner for 5:30 "just in case," you are still surprised, shocked and hurt when he arrives at 5:40.
How can a partner's inconsiderate attitude towards timeliness be a fault of your own?
The situations in which we find ourselves are the result of the choices we've made up to this moment. Have you set aside time to tell your partner about your struggle with their lack of time management skills? Or have you only expressed your animosity with a sharp look and a sharp tongue? Do they know that behind your resentful stare is a well of tears? And digging deeper still, we find the strength to ask why we accept this treatment from the one we love. What does this say about our compassion and understanding for ourselves and for what we need? Why have you placed yourself in the center of someone else's life rather than at the center of your own?
I stuggle with this oscillation of looking out in order to look within. When I stare into the mirror I come face to face with all that I am. The reflections are a compass pointing to a road map for growth. Those who I meet along the way are reminders of where I am going, where I have been and where I find myself now. We truly are one.
So the question is, "where do you want to go?" and "how are your experiences affecting your journey to get there?"