Life is Easy When You Live and Let Live
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.
This is quite good. Thanks. It’s amazing how the very obvious eludes us most of the time. Cheers for sharing.
Ouch! This one hit home, hey? Really hit home. I often do find myself thinking “why don’t they get a life?”, or “They should have read Book X”, or “who stopped them from doing x”…and on and on…! How Self righteous!
Recently I had a heated debate with two dear friends who are into a certain …”lifestyle concept” that really works FOR THEM. Fine. Thing is I had read/watched/heard about this “concept” and well, I think its just another scam (for the person who “discovered” this amazing way to live your life) and like you, thought they “were wrong” and “thoroughly mislead” and of course, felt the overwhelming need to correct them!
As you can imagine, we wound up jumping down each others throats and though we “let it go”, when I got home I still felt attacked and hurt. “Why didn’t they just listen to me?? I knew better” Mhm! Its funny how blind we can be to our flaws! Where was my “unconditional love”? Where was my “Do not judge or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1)?
I’m glad I wound up here today. It is where I was supposed to be so I can get my “lesson to be learnt”.
Its about time I got off my self-righteous donkey and climb onto the Stallion of “unconditional love”… to live and let live. Nice one Sandras!
great article..intelligent and very true!
Thanks guys! Self righteous causes lots of conflict. It’s kinda hard to live and let live but it’s amazing when you do it!
I agree with you to a certain extent….I have no issues with anyones choices on lifestyle BUT when someone encroaches on yours or is being openly rude & therefore selfish by imposing themselves on others or failing to have common courtesy (note the term “common” courtesy as this is not an ambiguous definition, ie not letting your children run wild in department stores just because you find that acceptable in YOUR home). When someone decides to speak up on an issue such as that one and encounters resistance, are not the offenders also being self righteous in their attempt to deflect responsibility for their actions or in actions by putting the onus on the person not to speak up? Not so black and white and just something to think about. I find that in general, it is the minority that ASKS for candor in their behavior and accepts it gracefully but those are the ones that I think merit recognition as opposed to an abiding campaign to tolerate breaches in manners. It WOULD be lovely if everyone had them!
Before I get on my soapbox and lose everyone, you may find a thought provoking, if not well known quotation quite relevant, at least to the point I’m getting at, its called: “FIRST THEY CAME FOR….” by Pastor Martin Neimoller.
This topic is so fascinating to me that (probably to the dismay of some) I’d like to expound and clarify, because I find this area to be somewhat grey in nature. SO to be sure, I like to celebrate the differences in people, your story about your exchange with your pregnant co-worker illustrates my summing up of a common relationship pit fall in the statement: “I love you, you’re perfect….now change”. People often forget how to bend or be forgiving in relationships, our particular set of behaviors or habits are not lovable to everyone and certainly for a relationship to work I absolutely believe that you must work harder at it than in other relationship types.
Now, I have a set of clients, a couple, who are very much into a holistic and some would say “hippie” life style. For the most part I find a lot of the followers to be pretentious and self righteous, I don’t seek to change them, I avoid them and I’m sure they might say the same of me.
I thought I would find this couple unbearable at the outset of our business relationship BUT I always believe in giving everyone a reasonable chance and the fact that it was a business relationship finds me on a more even keel when it comes to ignoring/tolerating others. I found that while I still don’t care for too many peoples personalities of their ilk, I do GENUINELY LOVE these two people!
So, I thought about what would persuade me to put aside my stereotypes and want to get to know them despite their lifestyle (which I found refreshing after awhile, it was like a vacation to be in their home and work with them, rather than people I considered to be like myself and living like me) and the key was that I noticed that they were tolerant of my ways. It made me want to do as they did in their home, EVEN if I found some of it trivial or ridiculous and after awhile I developed a respect for their home and their ways and even adopted some of them. Also, more importantly they took time to get to know me and care for me regardless of my ways (which they were ever so polite not to point out).
So you hit it right on the head when you say that if you let go and stop trying to control someone that they MIGHT want to change BUT there’s the grey area because this is NOT always true in the more selfish and self righteous personality types because to turn yourself around or even be inclined to, you have to be aware of others and how your actions are affecting them AND care how it affects others. And even less so with one time, chance encounters. That was what my earlier point on public rudeness or imposition on others with your behavior/ways.
I guess the point of this is that I see what you are getting at and the closer you want to be to someone there is definitely merit in your approach but I guess I’m not sure, in your point of view, as to where the line blurs between being tolerant and then being indifferent…more to the point, WHEN to speak up.
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