You know what? I wish I could just give you some cosmic hug that would rid you of all of your debilitating thoughts. I’d love it if you could just see not only how amazing you are, but how amazing everyone is.
The people around us are vastly different from us in presentation, but they are just like us nevertheless. No matter what sort of differences two people imagine they have, we all suffer when we lose something we care about. We all experience joy at seeing those we love thrive.
We all want to be the best people we can be, we just have different ideas about who that person would become. But rather than some people being deemed ‘good’ and others ‘bad,’ we are better to see the people as keys.
An old skeleton key is not better or worse than a modern magnetic key-card, but one applies to one set of circumstances and the other applies to other circumstances.
As good as a skeleton key may be, it won’t help us with a modern hotel door. And as good as the keycard is, it won’t do much good with a padlock. Each key is built to its purpose. It takes on the shape that works in the lock of its life.
Some people feel that strong law and order personalities are overly harsh or negative. And yet a woman facing domestic abuse may see that strength and certainty as very loving gestures.
Further to that point, the officer involved may have originally joined the police to protect people like their mother, who they may have seen be regularly beaten as they grew up. So their aggressive (even overly aggressive) protection is performed internally as an act of caring.
The problem is, that aggressive action often won’t look like caring to a gentler personality, that grew up in a much calmer and safer home. They’ll be less quick to judge, and may look more to the causes in the people’s history.
That might lead someone to become a counsellor, or social worker, or doctor, or a politician, all in an effort to make systemic changes that will help that abusive spouse develop healthier personal skills.
Hopefully readers can see that, at the time of an attack, the cop’s immediate and tough reaction is what care looks like. But that situation will only repeat without the follow up of some form of counselling that can repair the approaches that are being used to resolve conflict in that marriage.
These are two ends of the same function. One is based on a fear of bad things happening, and the resulting aggressive action is designed to prevent it from happening or continuing. And the other is less certain in its outcome, but it is based on hope that the future can be better than the past.
One group does not want to repeat unpleasant pasts. Another group is seeking more fortunate futures. One group stays in the cave, to protect the food we already have. But they only see the cave. The other group sees amazing vistas by venturing out, seeking new food sources. But they are occasionally poisoned or eaten.
There is no ‘right way,’ there is only each individual’s way. But the important thing is that we all want the same things. We all want to protect the vulnerable, we want to pursue ideas that create value in our lives, and we do it all while we spend time with those we care about most.
That’s what we all have in common. We may live differently, work differently, drive differently, eat differently and vote differently. But there is no one that we could not make peace with given the right set of circumstances. We may have to agree to disagree to do that, but that is still a form of agreement.
We should not be tricked by our own thinking, into see others as vastly different from ourselves. We are best to listen carefully. Ask questions. Find out the reasons people say and do as they do. By doing that, we can make a lot of seemingly crazy behaviour suddenly make sense. And that’s as good for us as it is for the other person.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.