In the lowest points of my life, I would not let anyone in. It was always the safer, easier choice, to stay small and not even bother trying to experience more than I had or more than I was. The feeling of being unworthy or not good enough was so overwhelming that reaching out to others was the scariest thing to do. That level of exposure and vulnerability felt like it would end the safety net of my world as I knew it and everything would come crashing down. Come to find out, there is more truth to that than I would ever imagine–but in the best possible way.
There are times that we are so sure about ourselves and the world around us that we are convinced there isn’t any other way to exist. When I hear students and trainees I work with tell me they are a certain way and incapable of anything else, I recognize their insecurity in themselves like a mirror to my past and I long to connect with them to help light a new way of thinking.
What’s helpful to recognize, I think, is that we are always going to be motivated by our own beliefs. The choices we make and the habits we create, including the people we spend our time and energy with, is almost always going to be a reflection of how we feel about ourselves, what we judge within ourselves, what we think we deserve and what we think we desire. The thing is, our Citta, or heart-mind complex, is full of memories and experiences that constantly influence us and without fully acknowledging them or taking the time to still all that comes up with silence or meditation it can easily be distracted by stories and illusion.
I come across a lot of motivational reminders in social media that focus all the attention on another person or something outside of the self. The quotes might have to do with not letting negative people bring you down, or how to avoid drama or toxic people. What I’ve come to believe is that, for the most part, people treat other people the way they see or feel about themselves and therefore their drama really has nothing at all to do with us. “Misery loves company” is a saying for a reason.
If that is to be believed, then in reality there is nothing to take on ourselves or to take personally from other people. We do not have to own other people’s thoughts or opinions. Furthermore, there will be some situations in which addressing the treatment is necessary and others in which it is our choice to walk away as we no longer need them–and both of these actions can absolutely be done with compassion for the other person and their journey. “Peace be with you” is another saying and it doesn’t cost a thing.
Looking back I recognize that the times I felt the worst about myself were the times I was surrounded by people who challenged and/or intensified those feelings the most. I truly believe that the people we attract and those who we come across in life show up exactly when we need them and at the very least teach us something and vice versa. The question then becomes, do we avoid, criticize and judge the person or do we choose to learn more about ourselves and our own issues in order to grow?
For me, refocusing my attention towards being the best version of myself rather than on the chaos around me has created a world full of unlimited potential, a tremendous amount of joy, and some of the most loving, inspiring, encouraging, supportive people I have ever known. When we lift each other up we lift ourselves up as well and that can make all the difference in how we experience the world.
When we learn that love, compassion, and kindness never run out when we share it with others we hopefully inspire those around us to do the same. Maintaining that intention of embracing that which challenges us can be the most powerful way to generate peace within our hearts. It is up to others to choose that path for themselves and if they do, we potentially create a cycle of healing that continues on throughout the rest of the world. It’s because of this that I can’t imagine a better way to support ourselves and our own healing than to continuously share that peace with those around us as much and as often as possible.