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Learning From Others Around You

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"We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle our inner spirit."
Albert Schweitzer

Have you noticed that there are certain people who for one reason or another irritate us? While there is no need to change our perspective about those people, the practice of reflecting on the source of our dislike toward other person can reveal something about ourselves. In addition, as we learn to appreciate things about the person who vexes us, it can help us cultivate the benefit-finder and a deeper sense of compassion within.

The Law of Reflection indicates that whatever disturbs us in others is a reflection of some hidden aspect of ourselves that's yearning for our attention and our self-acceptance. Whatever bugs us is almost definitely what we most need to own within ourselves. Next time you get really upset with someone, stop looking at what's upsetting you. Instead, check and see if you do the same thing a little more than you care to admit.

In developing compassion, think of something/someone/some situation that causes anger, hurt, or pain. Ask yourself how must that person be feeling inside? What subconscious memories are probably being triggered and running rampant in him/her? What role is s/he playing under the influence of these controlling subconscious memories? What kind of events or situations in early childhood most likely planted these subconscious memories? As you examine these possibilities, you may begin to change your perception of them. If we know what struggles people went through or their sorrows, we can be much more understanding of them, less critical and far less judgmental.

Next, ask yourself about your situation. Ask what part of yourself feels similar to the other person? What actions, roles or conflicts are similar to the other person's? Go slowly; take time to work through this process that may bring up painful memories. Once we have hit upon an insight into our own traits or damaging behaviors, we must take time to talk to the hidden part of us that has come to the surface of our conscious mind.

As we allow ourselves to feel kind and loving toward that painful part from past memories, feel the freedom that comes from loving all of ourselves including this part, not just the approved and pretty parts of our exterior character and personality. As we accept this part of our whole human experience, we will lessen the pressure of these rampaging subconscious memories. We will experience the peaceful feeling of caring for ourselves wholly and unconditionally.

I have found Loving Kindness Meditations practice to be greatly effective in these situations. The basic idea behind this form of meditation is simply directing kindness, generosity, or positive emotions in general towards those who may have instigated the negative feelings. I follow this with loving kindness, compassion and forgiveness for myself also. Strangely enough, in my experience, I no longer have the need to forgive the other person. That forgiveness is already done now that I have forgiven that aspect of myself. In fact, I am genuinely grateful for the other person now, for the disturbing situation that initiated this need for self-forgiveness, and for whatever self-work that needs to be done.

Being grateful for ourselves, valuing who we are -- even with all our mistakes and flaws -- establishes the foundation upon which we can be appreciate and learn from others around us.