Letting (simple minded) people go

Challenging Personality Series – Simple minded people

Recently, my patience with people has been tested.  From strangers to relatives, dealing with the multi-dimensional personalities has proven a challenge.  My greatest challenge lies with those individuals that refuse to take personal responsibility for their own lives, those that seek to belittle others just for the sake of doing so, and those that have simple and narrow minds.  My list of personalities that I struggle with is topped with those that judge others despite the fact that they themselves practically fall into the category in which they are judging, and those that have never, probably will never, and plain refuse to take a deep look at themselves.  The latter personality runs the risk of becoming a toxic and dangerous person for the rest of us.  These folks are the ones that can’t see past their own insecurities, resentment, bitterness, and jealousy and fail to understand that if they just confront their own issues and pasts – their “issues” will go away.  They will feel better, and they will lead more fulfilling lives.  Most importantly, they will stop infringing upon the happiness of the rest of us.

Before I began this life long and arduous journey of self-discovery and seeking enlightenment, I used to go up against each and every person that I felt slighted by.  The thought of them “winning” pissed me off to no end.  Eventually I became nothing but exhausted from constantly “defending” myself, my actions, and my viewpoints.  It was only then that I was able to step back and see that by running around trying to get others to see it my way or to like me, and then getting upset if they didn’t was letting them “win”.  I was gift wrapping and presenting to them on a silver platter, my own personal power.   I was just giving it away! Now I know better.  Not that I don’t still say my piece, and not that I don’t still get upset, I just now know that people’s opinions are just that – theirs.  I can’t control them, I can only control myself.

Long ago I had a friend that would confront each and every person that crossed her.  From the guy at the gas station who cut her off as she attempted to pull into a parking space, to her husband who didn’t put the laundry in on time.  Each and every infraction into her belief system by another was met head on in a toe to toe confrontation.  It was exhausting to be around her.  Everyone was “stupid” or “crazy”.  She would only see what it is that she wanted to see about a person or a situation and make a snap judgement.  If your snap judgement didn’t match hers, you were getting challenged.  Eventually I saw others walk on egg shells around her because they just didn’t want an argument.  Watching her and her interactions with people and how people reacted to her, further pushed me to learn ways to calm down. I wanted to learn how to meditate more, laugh more, and be pissed off less.

For me, coming out of a bitter divorce and not yet having taken personal responsibility for my part in the sharp turn in my life’s path, it was difficult.  However, I did it.  I went to Buddhist temple more, I read the Bible more.  I watched every video and read every article, book, or blog that I came across on self-improvement.  I would google phrases like “dealing with fear of rejection”, “personal responsibility”, “how to pray”.  I slowly became a self-improvement/spiritual junkie, one article would lead to another that interested me, which would lead to discovering authors, bloggers, and then entire publishing houses with a variety of topics that I couldn’t get enough of.  There was no denying that I was changing and growing, others noticed it, but more importantly, I noticed it.  I was more willing to confront myself now, not others.  I slowly began to see that more often than not, what would tick me off about another person was really just a mirror for something in myself that I had not yet confronted or examined.  I began to worry less about what other people thought of me, and worry more about what I thought of me.  Eventually though, all of my new found discoveries and my coming to love myself more did present problems.

It is a part of change, but you will lose friends.  It isn’t a bad thing, it is in fact what change is all about.  At best a friend or two will take a different path as yours for the time being and then you will re-unite.  At worst, they will talk behind your back or hurt you to your face to the point where you either have to set personal boundaries for a while, or you will have to release them from your life completely and just love them from afar.  I have been on both sides of the stick.  When your own personal growth and change becomes a point of contention for someone else, it is hard, but vital to remember that their problem with you is just that…their problem.  You are a trigger for something that they have yet to deal with deep inside themselves.  Whenever I get angry at someone, the first thing I think is what is it about this person/situation that is triggering something inside of myself that I have not yet dealt with.  Not everyone does that, and that is their choice.  The most difficult thing for me – still to this day – is just letting those people be.  Despite the fact that I can not wrap my mind around their inability to self-examine and their resistance to grow as a person, it is in fact, out of my control.  It is better to just go about your day and let them do the same.  Let them find out their own lessons in life in their own time, it is their journey after all.  You can still remain forthright in what it is that you have come to believe by living what you know is your truth.  People will always remember more about how you act and how you carry yourself then they will remember what it is that you said.  Sometimes a setting a shining example speaks way more than any lecture, article, or video ever could.

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