I noticed myself lately having an even more difficult time dealing with others.
No matter what situation or scenario, it seemed people were more difficult, self-centered and harmful than ever before.
My agitated mind launched into a series of rapid-fire questions:
Aren’t things supposed to be getting better?
Aren’t people supposed to be naturally growing into more highly-evolved beings?
How are people becoming worse?
What are we doing wrong?
What has changed?
Have I changed?
I froze in my tracks at that last one.
I asked once again, just to be sure I felt what I thought I felt.
Have I changed?
A second zap shot through my nervous system—my body’s notification chime that I’d hit something important.
I shifted the spotlight of my thoughts onto myself rather than projecting onto the outside world around me.
Maybe it is my own world that has changed.
Once something is seen, it cannot be unseen, and so more nakedly honest self-interrogation immediately launched:
Has anything different actually happened to me lately?
No, everything has been pretty routine…
Have I changed my routine?
No, everything appears to be the same…
Have there been extra demands on me by others lately?
No, not really…
Have I had extra demands on others lately?
I feel a hit surge through my system, like when I used to play the game of Battleship as a child and found where one of my opponent’s ships were hidden.
I press on.
Have I developed expectations for others?
Were these expectations placed on others by me without their agreement?
Are these expectations unreasonable?
Zing! Zing! Zing!
So there it was.
I had traced the line of suffering down to its root, and found that root to be disappointment.
Disappointment from something that was never realistic in the first place.
A desire for something to be other than the reality it actually is.
I needed to reformat these thought-roots, if I was to relieve my suffering.
I thought of another question to ask myself:
Are there any examples in this life of something I do not have unreasonable expectations for?
I searched my mental database, until suddenly something clicked into place, and I knew:
I expect a dog to be a dog.
I don’t expect to change a dog, or make it act like a bird or a toad.
Why then do you expect people to be other than the people they are?
What is the difference?
I knew what I had to do.
I venture back into the world with the intention of seeing with a new mind.
When the aggressive, testosterone-radiating SUV with unnecessary monster truck tires cuts me off in traffic, I merely observe it, as if I’m watching a documentary on a species of wildlife.
When my co-worker slacks off and leaves more work for me to accomplish, I allow their choices to be their choices, releasing all urges to wish the reality of the situation were different than it is.
When others obliviously blast across my path in their own little self-centered worlds, and I begin to grow irritated with them, I return to my new root foundation of seeing and treating them no differently than dogs.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Hannah Harris / Editor: Travis May