Whatever annoys you most in a person, is in you.
How dare you say that I’m like that person. I’m so much better than that.
Several years ago when I went through a period of seeking for answers due to infertility, I read a lot of self-help and spiritual books. When I first read this philosophy about me being like someone who annoys me, I was appalled. At the time, I was dealing with family members who were terribly insensitive to our infertility struggle. I knew for a fact that I was not an insensitive person and would never treat a hurting, grieving person the way they treated me.
It’s true, I would not have said or done the things they did, but I soon realized that I needed to dig deeper inside myself to find the similarity.
One example an author gave was about a woman she counseled who was annoyed by fake people. She insisted she would never act fake. She didn’t wear makeup. She let her gray hairs protrude through the brunette strands. She always behaved genuinely from what she believed. Then one day it hit her. In the lunch room at work, she always ate healthy, to appear health-conscious in front of coworkers. Except, hidden in her desk (and at home) she snacked on every unhealthy item she loved.
After reading that, I kept aware of my behavior to be on the lookout, and sure enough, I found a particular instance where I behaved like them. This helped me to forgive them and to work on myself.
Wasn’t it Gandhi who said, “If you want to change the world, start with yourself?”
The palpable hatred for a particular person in our world today is enormous, but what if this person emerged as a reflection of our own behavior?
But, but, but . . . a leader should never behave that way.
But, but, but . . . I say, why are we exempt? Why do we excuse ourselves certain behavior, because we aren’t the leader of a country, or an organization, or a job? Shouldn’t we be considering our behavior towards others instead of focusing on someone else?
If I asked some of these unabashed haters to find inside themselves the similarity between them and this person they hate, how might they respond?
Not so well, I’d imagine.
As for me, I’ll stick to looking inside my own behavior, and as a result, maybe something positive will ripple out into the world.