OK, I get it. The person who works in the cubicle next to you, in the office down the hall, in the classroom or in the board room, or uses the locker next to you, or whom you’ve considered “unfriending” is just too much for you. You know who I’m talking about. Because, well, he/she just bugs you. Maybe it’s their voice, maybe it’s bad past experiences, maybe it’s something else. But it’s not realistic that he or she will disappear from your life and the suffering you experience in your mind because of the stories you tell yourself about him or her, is rising to a level that is difficult to manage.
So try this on for size. Mid day might be the perfect time for a little bit of Hasidic wisdom to get you out of this rut of thinking. Sit down in a quiet spot and begin to focus on that person. But not the whole person. Find one positive or good or meaningful thing you can say about that person. It doesn’t even have to be based on your own experience with that person. A fictional story will do. Now imagine this positive aspect of this person like it’s a place on his body, on her soul. It’s not the whole person, it’s just a fragment, a part. And then focus on that one spot; try to see if you can breathe into that spot. Make your focus on this person about that spot and if you do, you may find that the spot gets bigger. That all of what you can think about that person can become that goodness. And this isn’t to pretend that someone who you find difficult is all of a sudden not. This isn’t actually about that “them” at all. Its about you.
How easy is it for you to tell yourself negative stories about you? How quick to judge and denigrate yourself are you? How quick are you to “should” all of yourself? In that moment, you can choose to beat yourself up or you can choose to get curious, find the good and expand it. Not to pretend that meaningful critique isn’t valuable. But to notice that our default of critique ironically keeps us small and seemingly safe.
But none of us is safe. When we hide and keep ourselves small, we endanger the breadth and depth of what we can become. When we open ourselves up to the world, when we find the good within, when we step into the tough but meaningful arenas of life, we are indeed in danger of failing. But what’s so terrible about that?