When we operate out of negative emotions – depression, fear, anger, irritation etc.. we trigger these in others. We often escalate matters by regressing into our “danger” zone which is our primitive flight or fight response which can be: avoidance or aggression. Thus triggering others (our co-workers, boss, significant other siblings etc.) into their danger zones. We then make assumptions about the other person…that they are: too nice, too passive, too controlling, demanding, too flighty, anal etc… It is their fault I am feeling this way!! This leads us to act in a way that makes them behave in order to justify how we already feel about them (Eric Berne’s ” Game” we play )
Once we judge someone, we filter out the data that doesn’t match our beliefs. We find evidence for our feeling the way we do – unfortunately blind that we have triggered the very behaviors we don’t like or cause us pain. We also train people to treat us the way that they do. So in other words if we are too nice; we may train people to take advantage of us. The story often made up is: people take advantage of me! Or if we have made up a story that you can’t trust people – the mistrust others feel from you will cause them to be guarded and mistrustful of you! So seeing is believing. We will find evidence for our beliefs and like a clever magician convincing ourselves that what we are seeing, feeling and experiencing is real and outside of ourselves!
Why is is so easy to judge others, their motives and blame them for our distress? Simply, judging someone or others feels good and it keeps us from the pain of recognizing our role in what we are resisting. It feels good to think we are better or superior. It makes is justifiable to view someone as deserving of our judgment and disrespect. Passing judgment allows us to treat “them” badly because they deserve it! It is important to know though that when we judge others we become like them. (John Sanford)
It is a huge step towards consciousness when we become responsible for our behaviors and how it impacts others. When we let go of judgments and seek to see each for the individual they really are; we have a chance to have a more authentic relationship and interactions. Carl Rogers found that “whenever their is an authentic encounter between two individuals – healing and growth take place”. Carl Jung even stated that “the spirit of evil lies in empathy deficits”. Empathy is indeed the single most important requirement for growth and change. If we do not have empathy for someone they will often act in ways that makes empathy impossible. And thus the human drama – we view the world through our emotional wounds and wound others (& stay stuck) by acting out of the pain from our wounds. (Projection, Displacement being very common.) Ekhard Tolle states: “ Most often we equate what appears to be with the truth. We can imprison others in our ideas about them or we can free them, by truly seeing the truth of who they are”.
Carl Jung also wrote: “Seldom does a marriage develop into an individual relationship smoothly without crisis. There is no birth of consciousness without pain.”
In our next posting we will look at pain and how it can transform us.