If you accidentally burn your hand by touching a flame, do you blame yourself or the flame? Why then do we continually blame the things that someone else did or said to us for how we are feeling, for upsetting us, for putting us in a bad mood? No one else has the power to change how you are feeling unless you give yourself permission to be affected. It is never about the other person; it is about the thoughts that we have about the other person and what they said or did to us that upsets us, and not the person themselves.
One of the biggest causes of all our suffering, anger, hurt, and upset is wanting other people to be more like us, to act in the same way we would act, and to share our beliefs, our dreams, and our desires. Logically we can understand that this is impossible, we know that everyone has their own unique belief system built up since their birth and based on all their own individual life events, thoughts, and emotions they have had over their lifetime. Everything we have read, watched and every person we have interacted with will all leave a mark on our belief system, positive or negative. Our past will also affect how we act in any given situation.
If we can understand how unique and individual we are then it opens the door to understanding that every other person is unique as well with their own individual set of beliefs that create their reality.
It can feel a bit like everyone is wearing different virtual reality glasses and we are all looking at the world in a different way, and that is because we are. Only by putting on another person’s virtual reality glasses would we even begin to understand their life and their story.
When we come up against someone who has different beliefs it can create emotions that vary from fear, anger, annoyance, and bewilderment. It can divide whole societies into them and us, both sides believing that they are right. Just spend some time on Twitter and see the anger that is generated when someone expresses an opinion and everyone who does not agree with that opinion piles in, sometimes with a reasoned counterargument and sometimes with insults. Every person believes strongly that their view of the world is the right one.
We believe that the way we see the world is right and therefore anyone who doesn’t agree with our view must be wrong.
But right according to whom? It all depends on the virtual reality glasses that you are wearing, and the world that you have created over your lifetime.
Our life is the way it is because of the thoughts we have, and as we travel through life, we continue to create our life through each new thought that arrives. Continually reinforcing what we already believe to be true and ignoring anything that goes against our beliefs. When we read a newspaper, we concentrate on articles that say positive things about our chosen political party, our sports team or our favourite hobby and ignore any articles that are negative or support the opposing political party or team.
For the most part, we are not even aware we are doing this, and even if we are aware that it is our own thinking that is creating our reality, we can still find it difficult to read anything negative about our chosen sports team or anything else that challenges the reality of the world as we see it.
It is when we can begin to understand that other people are also convinced, that they are 100% right that we can stop taking everything so seriously and start to see that reality all depends on the individual.
Underneath all the thought-created reality is the real person, the person that has not been influenced to believe strongly in one thing or another. If we can see the person underneath, we can begin to see them with compassion and kindness and not in a judgmental way.
Just imagine if you were born in a different country to different parents and with different siblings, what beliefs would you have now? It would all depend on the thoughts your different life had created.
We can remove a lot of our unhappiness when we can understand that each person lives in a unique, thought-created separate reality and if we can accept that just as we have created our own reality through a lifetime of thoughts that are unique to us, so every other person creates their own unique reality and belief system.
It is also one of the root causes of all our bad habits, addictions, and negative emotions. How many times has the way someone else has behaved caused you to head for the shops to treat yourself to those new shoes, have an after-work drink, or eat too much of the wrong foods? How often have you felt angry because of what someone else has done? Having a bad day at the office or an argument with a partner or child are classic excuses that we give ourselves to act out our bad habits. But, if we can realise that a lot of the arguments and bad days come from not understanding that the world, the universe, and everything in it is a creation of our own minds, and our minds are identical to everyone else’s at birth but as we travelled through life everyone created a different reality, a unique way they see the world. At the end of the day, despite all our differences, we are more alike than different, and we all are living in the same universe.
How do you react when a car comes racing up behind you and the driver begins to toot their horn, before pulling into the slower lane speeding up and overtaking you before cutting in front of you causing you to break? Do you shout and swear, get yourself worked up to anger that you can use to justify that stiff drink when you get home? Or do you think that the driver must be really unhappy, and wonder what has happened in their life to make them believe that it is ok to act in this way? When we can then feel sympathy for the person, this is an antidote to our anger. It doesn’t excuse the behaviour of the driver, but it stops your life from being affected negatively by the actions of other people.
“When you learn to forgive, you see with clarity the ignorance and the innocence of those who trespass against you”Sydney Banks
When we stop wanting people to change or to act in a way that we would prefer, then we can stop using our bad habits and addictions as a short-term fix to cure all bad emotions and feelings that arise from events outside ourselves and start to appreciate that everyone is unique. Who do you see when your manager at work upsets you with their bad behaviour, angry words or snide comments? The person in front of you or the person underneath? How another person acts is never about you, it is always about them. What pain is going on in their life that makes them act this way?
When we can understand that each one of us is living in a separate reality then we will be unable to let go of our annoyance, upset, and sadness that the other person is acting in a way that goes against our beliefs. When we can see the person underneath with sympathetic and understanding eyes then we can stop using our addictive habits as medicine to heal our emotions.
If we remain fixed firmly in our own beliefs and inflexible to other people’s realities, we will never find the peace and contentment we all seek.
- Just take a few minutes to close your eyes and focus on your breathing for a few moments.
- Breathing in for a count of three, pause, and breathe out for a count of 5. Repeat 3 times.
- Then taking one person at a time, family and friends bring a picture of them into your mind’s eye and wish them well, wish for their happiness and their health.
- Then do the same for the person who has upset you.
- Then finish with wishing yourself well.
Try to feel the sense of wishing someone well coming from your heart, not from your head. Understanding and forgiveness is the easiest way to restore your peace of mind.