In the course of an unsolicited character dissection, a friend shared the following:
“Someone once asked me why we were such good friends and I was taken back by the question. Their perception was that you were critical and constantly commenting on what and how you would do things differently. They perceived that as passing judgment because they took it personally. I, on the other hand, didn’t think twice about it; I just saw it as passing comment not judgment. So, it’s a completely different perception.
I understand where they were coming from and I can see all sides because I don’t come from a position, I come from love.”
Yes, she was saying that a friend of hers doesn’t like me, but that it’s ‘okay’ because she comes from love, and so obviously, was sharing this for my wellbeing.
Now, here’s the real kicker (as if this wasn’t enough already!): If I am sensitive to this and see it as criticism, then it is because I am not ‘evolved’ enough, or because this is my ‘soul lesson’, or I have ‘manifested’ this as a reflection of my lack of self love, or…
I am the world’s biggest advocate of personal responsibility and I’m not going back on that now. Yes, I am responsible for my reaction and emotions from this interaction; and yes, patterns of interactions from my life do reflect something in me that I am working on.
But, I think this was—although unintentional—still an incidence of cruel overshare.
Under the guise of being spiritual and transparent and connected, there can be elements of blaming, judgment and insensitivity. The temptation to dump our opinions on others and then blithely label their hurt as just unresolved issue, soul lessons or a part of their journey may be a trap for young spiritual players.
Yep, there is spiritual bitchiness!
Labelling other people’s hurt as ‘lessons,’ dismissing their struggles as the ‘journey’ and smugly analyzing their behavioral patterns can all be forms of this.
Don’t even get me started on those who dismiss all conditions as simply having been manifested by the person experiencing them, as if they should be happy about the fire that just burned their house or grateful for their broken heart! Sure, there can be happiness and gratitude in these experiences somewhere way down the line, after much processing and reflection, but please don’t throw that idea at someone who is in crisis!
I dated a guy (very briefly) who saw it as not only his right, but actually his obligation, to share his opinion of others with them, for their own benefit. How else, he argued, would they learn if he didn’t share his brilliance? As someone who takes the idea of not influencing others unduly (ironic for a writer, I know) pretty seriously, I was very confronted by his actions.
I read somewhere once that it is no better to be in 8th Grade than 2nd Grade. We are not better for having made it to the 8th Grade; we have simply grown up some and learned more. Yet, in the enthusiasm of our first forays into spirituality, it is easy for us to shove our new learnings down other people’s throats. As if we have now personally been assigned to be a 2nd Grade tutor.
Who ever said it was anyone’s responsibility to help anyone else evolve or resolve or grow? Yes, on the one hand we all share this journey and help each other along the way. That is the service that is integral to our existence (arguably not the purpose of our existence, but still integral).
On the other hand, throwing our thoughts at others and calling it connection or love is not kind. For me, one of the greatest learnings from my spiritual work has been lessening the attachment to being right; I think I have more often learned to be kind instead.
Sometimes, less than the whole truth is sufficient, and indeed, better. We can tell the truth without sharing our every thought. Outside of court, we are not obliged to share the whole truth and I am suggesting that we take responsibility for being kind as often as being right. We may be able to see a pattern in someone’s partners, or understand the bigger learning they are gaining from a situation, but often, it is wiser to keep this to ourselves.
It is true that the person may grow or benefit from your insights or prompts. Yes, the patterns in their life reflect the journey they have come to experience. And yes, our worst enemy teaches us the most about ourselves. But I don’t think any of that excuses wilfully or ignorantly hurting someone with the ‘truth’.
Instead, I try to ask myself, “Who does sharing my opinion here serve? Am I doing it just to show that I have an insight? Does this person need me to actually offer advice or to just listen supportively?”
If and when other people come to us or we go to them for support and even to be challenged, we can perhaps try be gentle, reflect where they are at, not where we think they need to be.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Jamie Khoo/ Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Daniela Vladimirova/Flickr Creative Commons