Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Learn to Swat the 'I Told You So' Bug

"Most people do not listen with the intend to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." ~ Stephen R. Covey

It's that moment when you see someone doing something you "know" they shouldn't do. You're almost peering into a crystal ball, everything to come seems so clear to you ... yet why can't they see it?

Then, inevitably, those very things you saw happened ... and that part of you — it's actually really an ego part of you when you truly think about it —is biting at the champ to say "I told you this would happen," "I told you I was right."

Well, as I continue this ever changing journey I'm on, I've come to the realization that despite perhaps "knowing" or "feeling" intuitively what was coming for some of those closest to me (or for myself for that matter), to take credit for the knowing is not quite truthful ... and does more for the ego than it does for the spirit.

Some of my friends or their friends, my family, even those acquaintances I only hear from here and there have talked about things they're going through to me. In the past, I'd offer up whatever advice came to mind, whether from my own experience, advice that was passed down to me or just from a place deep inside.

While I still dip into that well when I feel it is a good time to, I've begun a practice of listening more so than acting or telling. I've allowed the quiet to enter the conversations more in my life ... and here's why:

"Listening is an attitude of the heart, a genuine desire to be with another, which both attracts and heals."~ Sura Hart

Having been through my fair share of rough patches in life, I can honestly say I've had plenty of intuitive moments that, had I wanted them to, would have guided me through it all and likely helped me avoid some of the more traumatic and painful experiences. And my friends, family, they all expressed the same notions. And I couldn't blame them.

But at the end of the day, the things I went through over the last several years and even further back than that, they have not only served as teachers — albeit rough ones at times — they have also been experienced through my eyes, ears, body, heart, soul ... and mine only.

And for that reason, those experiences are unique to me. Any of my friends could go through the same situation, but will gain, lose, learn, self destruct, rebuild and grow differently from them as I did. So as hard, sometimes almost heart wrenchingly difficult, as it's been to watch others walk a similar line as I have, where I used to want to run and save them ... I know now I cannot. Just as no one else could save me.

We save ourselves — if we want to. And all we can do for our friends is be there, be as constant a presence of love, light, compassion, understanding and patience as we can be. It's hard, yes ... especially when I have trouble not sponging up others' hurt or pain or anger.

There is this meditation practice called Tonglen, which is Tibetan for "giving and taking." In short, you visualize taking in someone's pain with your inhalation and exhaling love and healing to them and all others in that same boat.

I've been trying to do something similar ... in my own way. I try to breathe through those moments I have when I feel someone hurting and either my heart is wanting to help with an urge to babble whatever advice I can muster or my ego is wanting to feel "powerful" for giving that perfect piece of advice.

Instead, I imagine myself full of healing, calming, loving light ... and emanating it with every breath I exhale or word of comfort I offer, even when I DO give some advice. Because it's OK to gently offer words from the heart — speaking your truth, as my guru says.

But I also remind myself that everyone is on their own path and will view every stone, every flower, every bump differently as I would. They'll get something specific to them and their own path out of it. And I have to respect that. Just as those who love me truest respected that about me and my own path and hurdles. And that's the part I'm honoring these days.

So next time you have that moment ... when those words are right there, on the tip of your tongue. Calmly silence them, see the person across from you as another fellow soul on their own path ... and maybe give her or him a loving hug instead.


1 comment:

  1. I have always felt that was a passive-aggressive thing to say to someone (the "I told you so"). Even though it may be true, that we told them so, it definitely does not need to be said after the fact. Salt, meet wound :)