It’s All About You

Some time ago, I found myself in the middle of a fight between two friends. Greg was visibly angry because of something Maria had said in a meeting. His face turned red and his eyes blazed as he shouted across the room at Maria. Maria also started to yell back and the rest of us had to keep the two of them from going at each other because they were on their feet and about to advance on each other.

I told the others to take care of Maria while I quickly ushered Greg into an adjoining room.

“Ok, calm down. Breathe,” I said.

“But…” he started.

“Shhh…don’t talk. I’ll give you time to talk. Take a minute to cool your head first,” I said.

After a minute, I said, “Ok, so what happened back there?”

“You know, she’s so careless with her words. She acts like such a know-it-all and says this and that,” Greg goes on and on ranting for a couple of minutes. Then he stops.

“Are you done?” I asked.

He thinks for a minute, then says, “Yeah, I’m done.”

“Can I talk now?” I said.

“Yeah, sure,” he said.

Greg and I had recently attended a seminar and I thought it was quite relevant to remind him of something we learned there.

“Do you remember that talk we attended? Where the speaker talked about being more aware of our own thoughts and feelings, and that when we dislike another person, it’s usually because we dislike the very same thing in ourselves. Well, I’m not going to say who’s wrong or who’s right between the two of you, but why don’t you take this chance to see why you dislike her so much? Maybe it’s not about her at all but about you,” I said.

The speaker was actually drawing on something that German novelist Hermann Hesse said, “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”

So I talked with Greg for the next 30 minutes or so, and every time he went on a finger-pointing mode, I gently pointed him back to himself. “Look, I said, she has her own issues to deal with. I understand why you don’t like her but it’s a more difficult task to change the way she is. What is more doable is to change the way you look at her and the situation. If you understand what it is about her that you hate about yourself, then you can move forward from there, and perhaps even understand her a bit better.”

His eyes lit up as he slowly understood what I was driving at. After an hour, I had the two of them apologize to each other and they were on more amicable terms after that.

These days, I still see a lot of hate going around on Facebook, Twitter and so on. Why don’t you take some time to ask yourselves — what is it about Rodrigo Duterte that I don’t like in myself? What is it about Leni that I don’t like in myself? What is it about Mocha Uson, Loida Lewis, Tito Sotto, Manny Pacquaio, Edgar Matobato, the Dutertards, the Yellowtards,  and so on and so forth, that I don’t like about myself?

This only works if you take an honest look at yourself. Don’t try to apply this to others. Don’t say, “Oh, so and so should read this and do it.” No, do it yourself.

It’s all about you.


Originally published in Sunstar Davao.

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One thought on “It’s All About You”

  1. haha thanks Andy, since November I sit in this chorus in the US about Trump, every last one gets on the bandwagon and I keep making this exact point, with zero recognition, except for from you here. the most thoughtful people look annoyed when i say it, and grumble “i’ll have to think about that”.

    today was international labyrinth day; at one pm local time worldwide, people did the meditative walk through the switchback paths toward a central space and then back out., through theses meditative spaces of ancient design.

    for me it was about connection, not only connection to the universe through nature or to those I know through love, but to all beings, even the one’s typically far outside my “circle”, a feeling of being here on behalf of everyone, for everyone.

    watching my peers pass me on their own path that might be pointing in the opposite direction on the sentry-like switchbacks of the labyrinth, but knowing we were all headed for the same center, i realized it was another way of looking at people that seem to be at odds with your own path. our sentry walks all protect the same center, and those out in another ring might be suffering, struggling, fighting harder than i am or than i have to at my particular point on the path; looking at it this way, the only reaction to my peers in those positions, is gratitude.


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