One of the greatest sources of our angst, pain, and suffering is our relationships with other people. Whether it’s a beloved, a family member, a stranger at a nearby table, or someone who lives thousands of miles away who we see on the news, people have a way of getting under our skin.
Of course, it’s not what those people do or say that’s the problem; what causes our pain is how we respond — or, more accurately in many cases, how we react — to their words and actions, and the meaning we give what they do or say — or what their did or said in the past.
There are some core principles I try to remember about people and how they act. I do my best to remember these things daily, as a pre-emptive measure to prevent reaction.
I’m not always successful. Although with practice I find it takes less time to remember than it used to.
When I do remember them, I am less likely to take things personally, I can let go and forgive with greater ease, and I find myself more compassionate, kind, and generous to others, and to myself. I am better able to stay connected to my truth.
As we enter the season of the Jewish New Year, the season of forgiveness, and a heated political climate in the United States, and as the disease of blame continues to spread like the wildfires on the West Coast, I hope these principles help you stay connected to your truth.
Here are 5 of the principles:
- Everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have available to them.
- Everything we see in the world around us and in the people around us is a reflection of what exists within us. Triggers are messages directing us to look within.
- The first function of any system is to protect itself. Most people are walking around in protection mode. As Tara Brach says, everyone is like a dog who has its leg in a trap.
- Inputs become outputs. Most people are products of their environment. Whether it’s the environment they were raised in or the ones they choose to create for themselves now, their actions and words are shaped by what they watch, read, and who they hang out with.
- People interpret what you say through the filters of their experience. You cannot force someone to hear or see something a certain way if they aren’t willing to release the filter.