Layers and layers

I was talking with someone the other day who was quite critical of the behavior of others in her immediate environment. She spoke with such certainty, assuming that everyone was operating with ill-intent and was out to get her. I casually asked: "Do you really think they're doing that on purpose to upset you?" She said: "I guess not on purpose, but it is annoying." To which I replied: "So you're upset because they're falling short of your expectations, correct?" She said: "I never thought of it like that, but yeah, I guess so." "What's your relationship like with yourself--do you tend to be more self-critical or self-compassionate," I asked? "I'm definitely self-critical," she replied. I told her that it makes sense because we tend to treat others the way we treat ourselves. I added that it behooves us to understand there are many layers to behavior, and all of it expresses what we believe about ourselves and the world. I then asked: "Based on the behaviors you see at home, what might it be expressing that person is dealing with?" "Maybe they're struggling with anxiety, depression, and low-self esteem." And what do you think is behind their emotional pain? What painful experiences? What limitings beliefs? "I'm not sure!" I recommended that instead of judging their behavior, she'd seek to understand the motivation behind it, and we discussed the amount of empathy, vulnerability, and patience required to do so. I told her the search for understanding the layers and layers of behavior doesn't offer us the same instant gratification that judging does; though, it does create a healing environment not only for them but for her too. "Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood." Marie Curie



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