Our relationships with one another are often a source of distress. In general, the principal form of conflict we experience with others has to do with some form of consideration that we feel they are not giving to us. We often suffer from thoughts like these: “She is not being respectful enough.” “He is not as kind as I want him to be.” “They just don’t care as deeply as I do.”
However, if we will be courageous enough to see the truth of the next insight, and then admit its finding into our heart and mind, we can change the real root of this underlying sense of our dissatisfaction with others along with the conflict it generates between those involved: Many times the very thing we want from the person we are with — for example, respect, patience, kindness, love — is the very thing that we ourselves either lack at the moment or otherwise somehow are withholding from them. The “catch” here is that we are mostly unconscious to our actual inner condition in these encounters with others, and here’s a major reason why this happens:
Hidden in each of us are certain clever “self-concealing devices” whose sole reason for being is to keep us asleep to ourselves and blindly serving their ends, most of which are to mechanically perpetuate struggle and conflict. One of the ways these conflict-producing characters stay undetected — while generating their strife — is to point the arrow of insufficiency at someone else.
Each time this self successfully diverts our attention in this way here’s what unfolds: Not only are we kept from coming awake to ourselves, but in this engineered spiritual sleep we are rendered unable to realize that the very quality we judge as missing in the person or persons before us is actually lacking in ourselves!
A little inner work on our part reveals the truth of our condition. We almost always place certain character demands upon others, but almost never see that the nature in us making these demands is without the very substance it cries out as missing. No wonder the circle of disharmony continues. In our spiritual sleep we act as its unconscious continuous circumference!
What’s to be done? How can we change ourselves (first things first!) and at the same time help our friends and family grow in Spirit? How can we realize True Self, end this circle of conflict, and open ourselves to Real Conscience — one that could no more feel these present stresses as we do than the sun could feel pressure from the presence of a passing cloud? Let’s see.
The following example is intended to make a special needed point, but should it not fill the gap for you — because of preference or perhaps even prejudice — then you need to do the inner work to bridge these ideas with something born of your own experience.
When we, in our love for God — either through prayer, contemplation or meditation — give to Him our praise or adoration, asking therein for a deeper measure of His Life, we are (in fact) graced by Him in proportion to the amount of love we find in our hearts to present before Him. The true Friends of God have always known this Law of reciprocal Divine Love.
To state this same idea in simpler terms — and referring it to our need to open our hearts and stop judging others for what we see missing in them — here is the Great Principle: Giving to others what we ask for from them is how we receive what we wish.
To give this spiritual Principle the important consideration it deserves, let’s look at it through the objective eyes of the truth of our experience with others throughout our day-to-day lives. How many of us feel that the “others” in our life — particularly those people we are around every day, whether at home or at work — just don’t treat us as we deserve? Again, and perhaps not all of the time, most of us feel slighted in our relationships. But how many of us can honestly say that we offer to our fellows what we want from them?
Generally we extend olive branches and our considerate sympathies to those who we think can serve us, and rarely do we serve those who we are convinced have nothing we want. And yet we still want their respect, kindness or consideration. With this in mind let’s return to the guiding Principle for this study:
We must learn to give to others what we hope to get from them. How? Before we ask for someone’s attention, let us first lend that person our own. Before we look to him or her for an act of consideration, let us offer one from ourselves. If we wish for kindness, let it begin with our own. Otherwise all we give each other are unconscious demands followed by judgment and disappointment.
We must learn to take the true conscious initiative with each other and then — based in our understanding of this great spiritual Law that governs harmonious relationships — make the effort to be to others what we wish them to be for us. Here is a special exercise that can help us create more harmonious human relationships.
We all know what it’s like to find ourselves unhappy and in conflict with someone who just isn’t giving us what we want or need from him or her. Whenever this happens we usually find fault with these people, judge them as being inadequate, and from these findings blame them for the negativity we now feel toward them. But how many of us are awake enough to offer these same people what we have asked them to give us — before we ask them for it?
Even to attempt the following practice will reveal more to you about yourself than reading a thousand books on spiritual realization. To begin with, as we discussed earlier, we usually demand from others those interior qualities that we are in short supply of ourselves. For instance, it is impatience that leaps to judge impatience. Unkindness finds others unkind — and tells them so in no uncertain terms. Arrogance despises pride and makes sure that the proud know they are dreaming of unreal heights. On and on churns this cycle of disharmony until we go to work on ourselves, implementing the kind of true self transforming principles that follow.
Whatever it may be that we find wanting in someone else, we must learn what it means to give that very thing to him or her. What we would have from others, or have them be towards us, we must provide or be ourselves.
For instance, if we really want the person we are with to be open with us, we must first open up ourselves. When we know we tend to be critical of others because they don’t show us the respect we would have, we must show these same people the respect we want.
Now, add to these thoughts this last idea: Sometimes what we want from others, they just don’t have within themselves to give. We make demands, for instance, that someone understand us when, at that point in his development — for whatever reason — it’s impossible that he could. But wanting what we want, we act as though we are weary with him and may become condescending. This behavior on our part only convinces the person in question of his own shortcomings. What can we do instead?
Give to him what we have of ourselves instead of taking away what little he has in himself. To give the fruit of such a conscious interior labor is to receive the goodness we ask for.
This exercise in harmonious human relationships takes a great deal of attention and, more important, a great deal of being weary with finding everyone around us not as good as ourselves. Nevertheless, our real spiritual growth — our self-transformation — depends upon what we are willing to give, and not upon what we feel we are owed.
Put these ideas to work. You will be shocked and amazed at your discoveries, and you will benefit from the healing that they bring to your relationships.
About the Author: OneJourney founder Guy Finley is the bestselling author of more than 45 books and audio albums on self-realization, including “The Secret of Letting Go,” “The Essential Laws of Fearless Living,” and his newest book “Relationship Magic: Waking Up Together.” He is the founder and director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit Center for Spiritual Discovery located in southern Oregon. Guy is a faculty member at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York and at 1440 Multiversity. Tune in every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening for Guy’s free online classes, visit www.GuyFinley.org/freeclass