“We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.” – Anais Nin
You know what I hate most about becoming more self-aware? That I’m responsible for every situation (not that I create the weather or whatever’s happening but it is my choice in how I respond).
Some days I would really like to just rail at something, or someone, and scream, “You’re a jerk! It’s all YOUR fault!” But there is always this next pompous-assed voice that pops up somewhere in a little chunk of my brain, that says, “Nice try, Colleen. Are you ready to really look at the situation?”
The deal, as I see it, is this… the very things I find annoying in others, are the things that I don’t want to look at in myself (Insert sigh here. Very big sigh).
In my defense, I think some of the annoying situations are really overwrought versions of my worst traits. So, even though these people are helping me to learn and to see my own ‘stuff’, I still think they’re taking the whole thing too far.
For example…someone gets on the Canada Line talking loudly on their cellphone, bumping into everyone with their overstuffed backpack and then rudely pushing their way through the crowded train.
I have a couple of choices here. I can be indignant and blather on about the event to myself or to any poor sod that makes the mistake of talking to me, or I can think about times when I have been less than stellar in my approach to the world, realize my teacher has just arrived, and immediately start practising patience.
Hello!! Who better than me needs to practise patience and tolerance?
So. I reframe the situation and send myself (and that aforementioned buffoon) some calm and happy thoughts (this will be the part that’s a bit of a stretch).
Then I tell myself, “Hey Colleen, you said you wanted to learn to be more patient. What a great opportunity to practise!” Then I do the inner eye roll and imagine slapping that little church lady smirk right off my inner better-self’s face…I sigh again, knowing that I need to get down to business.
First off…imagining my better-self and my not-so-better-self slapping each other around makes me grin. Once I’m grinning I immediately realize that it’s not so bad.
In fact, I see this guy as, a) my opportunity to learn how to be patient and kind, and b), a cautionary tale on how NOT to behave on public transit, and c), kind of funny.
I reach down and turn off the ringer on my phone, smile at someone nearby, and breathe deeply and slowly. When it’s my stop, I am over-courteous to help offset Mr. Bad Example.
Hell, if the Dalai Lama can forgive the occupying army, perhaps I can work on a random stranger?
Check it out! I am a living breathing vision of patience.
To paraphrase Aristotle, “Fake it until you make it.”