Loving others (particularly the ones you don’t want to) is a great strategy for increasing your own well-being. This recently became very clear to me when I noticed the suffering I had because of my judgment of someone I’ll call Charlotte (definitely not her name!). I don’t even know Charlotte personally, but she did something to one of my dear friends that caused her a lot of harm. I am very protective of my friends, and if someone harms them I can be like a mother bear.
This doesn’t mean that I ran after her and took a swat at her. Anger doesn’t always look violent (but more on that in an upcoming blog). No, my anger played out through judgment and defensiveness. I like to discount this person’s worth and the work they do. While I definitely don’t agree with everything Charlotte does and sometimes even think it’s harmful, I have to admit there must be people that benefit from her work in the world. So, I could choose to focus on the good instead of the bad.
As I sat with my judgment, I was quite aware of how it was making me feel. It did not feel good. And, I was the only one suffering. Charlotte was quite unaware that she was having any impact on me at all. I thought “Well this is a bum deal!” “All this judging is just making me feel bad and not helping anyone or anything!”
It was clear I needed to work on a different way of relating to Charlotte. I say “work on,” because my brain (and yours, by the way) is sticky for the negative and judgy stuff and Teflon for positive. I knew if I wanted to be free of this suffering, I would need to choose to love. When I say “free,” I mean free from jealousy, anger, self-righteousness, defensive, and other types of suffering caused by the ego. And when I say “love,” I mean the desire that someone else be well and that they not suffer.
So, not only did I need to shift my own thoughts about Charlotte and see her as happy, healed, and whole, I needed to pay attention to my words when I spoke with others. You see, I had a strong desire to call up the person Charlotte had hurt and commiserate with her. Truth be told, my friend has already told me a long time ago that she had let go of her hurt regarding Charlotte.
Then this morning my husband read the Daily Word from Unity which said “I set my intention to speak only words of peace.” Well, if that wasn’t sent straight to me!? Further, it said to “visualize the citizens of the world at peace.” To “view everything in my life through the eyes of love” and be “an ambassador of peace.” That certainly sounded a lot more peaceful and kinder than engaging with the thoughts I had before.
So whether you’re holding a grudge against someone (like Charlotte) or you notice judging others for having different viewpoints or even behaving in ways that you don’t approve, the solution (if you want to be free) is not to hold on to your anger, resentment, or criticism. Instead work with the following suggestions toward a greater sense of well-being.
1. Visualize the person that you are judging harshly.
2. Take a moment to consider the other person’s perspective about the world. In other words, try to see the world through their eyes.
3. Remember that this person wants to be happy just like you do, has the same hurts and pains that you do, and is doing the best they know how to do.
4. Connect with your own heart by remembering a time when you felt seen and heard by another.
5. Remember that withholding love from another only hurts yourself.
6. Send kind wishes to this person for their peace and well-being.
7. Set the intention not to spread discord by speaking words that might harm.
8. Check in and see how you feel.
9. Repeat as necessary.
This is a practice and you get better at it the more you use it. Remember that your freedom is what is in question here, not whether someone did something you disliked or not. Even if your first reaction is to judge, try and catch yourself as soon as possible and shift your energy into working for your own good. Ultimately, it becomes the good for all.
The next time I see Charlotte I will feel much better about greeting her with kindness. I should probably even thank her, because she helped me grow my heart a little bigger. Loving others is a gift you give to yourself…. the love comes back to you two-fold.