In-Between Thoughts 8.15.18 “It’s not personal”

Leg day again! Let’s crush it…

If anything has been characterizing my “personal growth” time in Hawaii it’s the lesson that there is very little of other’s words and actions I need to take personally. This has been a lifelong (36 years!) struggle for me, but thankfully (?!?!) Hawaii is giving me a LOT of negative attitudes and words to use in my mission to learn this lesson for real. Yaaaaaay.

I mean, seriously. I am a nice person. I am (mostly) decent and empathic. I am not an @$$hole nor am I unreasonable and those are facts. WANNA FIGHT ABOUT IT?!?! (I kid…?)

Even knowing and believing all that about myself, I still tend to take everything personally, because, well, everything is personal. Everything is relationship and deeply concerns persons and their feelings, judgments, and beliefs.

But just because everything is personal doesn’t mean it has to be me-personal, of course. Sometimes (most times) it’s personal about/to the other person. Maybe it is about me in part, but it is always in part about the other person, too. And when I’m up against truly toxic, unhelpful, cruel, dismissive behavior (HAWAII HAS BEEN SO FUN), I think I found the key to keeping me from accepting the words and to reminding myself it’s not me-personal:

Compassion.

Recently someone was very critical of something I said, accusing me of being essentially stupid and cruel. It did get my heart racing a bit, even though this was a situation where I knew immediately I wasn’t at fault. What helped keep me from taking it too personally, what kept me from reacting in anger and either attacking this person or changing everything about what I do or say to avoid the criticism, was my deep compassion for what this person is going through. I know what he/she is going through. I know for a fact, because the details of his/her situation are present to me, and it is obvious that the remarks were not about me and were spoken out of pain and fear. Because I knew about the situation and his/her struggles, I was able to respond kindly, strongly, and with grace.

Not that I wanted to respond that way immediately… but that’s how I did eventually respond. Thank goodness I took a breath.

It all reminded me of the ever-present need to practice compassion towards everyone, a compassion that recognizes everyone is struggling against something painful and stressful. It’s the old adage that hurtful people are people who are hurting.

This also reminds me that the more I live in this world and try to navigate it with peace, truth, and joy, the more I realize the many truth nuggets in the Buddhist lifestyle. There is a lot to glean from the Buddhist way of living, and I think that’s why I have always been drawn to Christian mystics. In this case, compassion is obviously a deeply Buddhist practice and value. And there is something so interesting in the idea of drawing near to someone in compassion so as to create distance between their words and my value. The intimacy and distance of compassion are so intertwined. I feel like there is something Hegelian here but that’s probably more than I want to bite off in between sets today.

Ending on Hegel and Buddhism. Either lifting makes my brain snappy or it scrambles me into delirium.

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