Our relationships with one another are often a source of distress. And, speaking in general terms, most of the conflict we experience with others has to do with some form of consideration that we feel they are not giving to us. We often suffer from thoughts like these: “She is not being respectful enough.” “He is not as kind as I want him to be.” “They just don’t care as deeply as I do.” However, if we will be courageous enough to see the truth of the next insight — admit its finding into our heart and mind — something new and wonderful can happen within us: we can release ourselves from this dissatisfaction we feel in our relationship with others, along with the conflict it generates between us:
Many times the very thing we want from those we are with — for example, respect, patience, or a just little tenderness — is the very thing that we ourselves either lack at the moment or otherwise somehow are withholding from them.
The “catch” here is that we are mostly clueless about our own actual impoverished condition in these moments because — quietly tucked away in the depths of us are certain clever “self-concealing devices.” The continuing presence of these unconscious parts of us ensures we never realize that it is we who run in debt because of how quickly they point out the inadequacies of those they judge. Each time our attention is successfully diverted in this way, here’s what unfolds: not only are we kept from coming awake to ourselves, but in this engineered spiritual sleep we are rendered unable to realize that the very quality we judge as missing in the person before us is actually lacking in ourselves!
Some needed inner light reveals the truth of our actual condition. We almost always place certain character demands upon others, but rarely see that the part of us making these demands is without the very substance it cries out as missing in them. No wonder the cycle of human disharmony rolls on as it does; this spiritual sleep is not just the breeding ground of the contempt we feel for the insensitivity of others, it is the source of it!
What’s to be done? How can we transform ourselves and, at the same time, serve as an agent for change in the lives of all those we meet along the Way?
The true Friends of God have always known the law of reciprocal Divine Love: whatever we give our love to, gives us that love back according to the extent of our giving.
With this idea in mind, let’s apply it to our need to open our hearts and stop judging others for what we see as missing in them. Here is the great principle that makes possible true harmony between all human beings: giving to others what we ask for from them is how we receive what we wish. Stated another way: we must learn to give to others what we hope to get from them. Here now are a few simple suggestions for how we can get started with enacting our new understanding.
Before we ask for someone’s attention, let us first lend that person our own.
Before we look to him or her for an act of consideration, let us offer one from ourselves.
If we wish for kindness, let it begin with our own. Otherwise all we give each other are unconscious demands followed by judgment and disappointment.
We must learn to take the true conscious initiative with each other and then — based in our understanding of this great spiritual law that governs harmonious relationships — make the effort to be to others what we wish them to be for us.
Question: I recently found out that my husband of 21 years has been unfaithful. I should have picked up on the signs long ago, but what do I do now? Do I go out and find another love? I feel there is no purpose in life. Can you help me find a way through this?
Answer: You must work hard now, within yourself, to be watchful for these wrong parts of you that want to punish you with feelings of frustration, despair, or depression. As hard as it is for us to understand, negative states such as these that have come into your heart just now have no right, none, to define you and then confine you to their limited view of the moment. It’s these states that really hold us captive, and not the condition (or person) they blame for that bitterness. As best you can, for a while, be still and watchful of yourself instead of allowing these angry parts to tell you what you need to do to feel “better.” We want to learn from these shocks, discover the truth of ourselves (and those around us) in a way that can’t cause any further pain (to anyone). By learning to embrace what is light and true we slowly transform the “dark” parts (in us) that first set us up for these “falls” and that then sees to it we trip. Everything about our lives can and will change for the better, but only as we allow Life to teach us the hard-earned lessons it would have us understand.