I worked in an open office for a few months. One morning two of my workmates started discussing something. I didn’t agree with their opinions and I felt I should correct them. They both turned to me and said, “Who asked your opinion?” I said, “But what you’re saying is not correct.” We argued and wasted about 2 hours of company time. I felt terrible after that argument as I felt attacked. I’ve never been in an argument like that since secondary school.
I kept thinking about it and hurting for days. Then I saw what the issue was. The issue was I wanted to change them and they wanted to change me! We all felt self righteous and wanted to impose our opinions and beliefs on one another.
Our telling others how they should or must behave is due to our self righteousness. We feel we’re better than they are so they should be like us. As long as we feel that way, they resist the advice to force us to love them unconditionally – as God intended. Here is the best part: Haven’t you noticed how when you stop trying to “correct” someone , they suddenly “improve”? We all feel compelled to reciprocate love and are usually attracted to people who don’t judge us – people who don’t “nag” us.
In most cases, we don’t like in others that which we don’t like in ourselves. The world is a mirror, remember? I hated it that my wife sometimes told me things that hurt (Usually because they were true). I felt she ‘didn’t care and was insensitive’. Then I asked myself which people felt that I ‘didn’t care and was insensitive’. I found that she and many other people had felt that about me too at some point. She was just like me! And I was just like her!
The guys in the office reflected what I was doing. I felt attacked by them and they felt attacked by me. I felt they were extremely argumentative and they felt I was extremely argumentative. I felt they should have left me alone. They felt I should have left them alone.
At a company that I worked, I used to chat with a lady that worked at the canteen. She was in a bad mood one morning and I joked saying, “Hey! Don’t give me that attitude, I didn’t do that to you” pointing at her tummy as she was pregnant. She forced a smile saying her boyfriend was irritating her. I asked what the problem was and she said, “He is just too slow in doing things.” Without asking for all the details I said, “He has always been slow. And that’s why you were attracted to him in the first place. He hasn’t changed. Now you want him to be fast and he tells you, ‘Leave me alone.’ Please leave him alone. Because every time you say, ‘Why can’t you be faster?’ He’s telling you, ‘Why can’t you take it easy?’” She laughed very much saying what I said was true. When I saw her a few days later she was in good spirits. I asked about her relationship and she said “it’s been better since we stopped trying to change each other!”
I’ve made self righteous statements such as, “People should read.” Clearly that sentence in its entirety is, “People should read like me.” How about, “It would be lovely if more people read.” Imagine a world where everybody was like you? Imagine your partner made the same money as you and was just as busy and stressed as you? You would probably look for another one.
I wouldn’t like a world where everybody was just like me. My 3 year old, who is like me in many ways, has confirmed it. He asks ‘why?’ for almost everything and I don’t like it sometimes. Before I could complain to my wife about his asking me ‘why?’ when I asked him to eat his lunch, I remembered that she also told me once that, “Honey, I really am too tired for your ‘whys’”!
Many people don’t like to be ordered. “Must”, “have to”, and “should” are orders. How about replacing these with “like”, “love”, “would be great”. Try it with your kids, partner or subordinates. Instead of, “You have to make your bed” or “You should call me”, how about, “I would love it if you made your bed” or “I would like you to call me” because it’s really you that wants it done. The other person doesn’t want it. If they did they would do it without your orders.
Self righteousness is the biggest source of trouble in the world. Self righteousness is the mother of intolerance. Self righteous nations want to control other nations. Self righteous religions and denominations want everybody to believe what they believe. Self righteous parents want their children to be like them. Self righteous people want the whole world to be like them. Whenever, you try to change people to be like you, you’re being self righteous and selfish. Whatever you resist persists. That explains some of the humbling events that surround us. Self righteous homophobic parents have gay sons. Self righteous pastors have daughters who have kids out of wedlock. Self righteous nations go into a depression. Self righteous bosses get fired. Self righteous married people have their spouses leave them. And you can add on to the list. When such humbling events happen to us, we tend to be sympathetic of the people we looked down upon. We could get upset with the event and miss the lesson or we could choose to be humble and see what God, Allah, the Universe is teaching us. These are feedback mechanisms to teach us to live and let live.
Everybody wants to be loved unconditionally. Live and let live.