Not understanding that you’re harming someone is not the same as not harming them. Not taking responsibility does not take you off the hook. A failure to recognize how your words and actions affect others is not about the others–it’s about you.
So how is it that we hurt others without understanding what we are doing? It comes from thinking of us and not the other. When you are getting what you want, you’re satisfied. If the other person you’re in relationship with, whether that’s business or personal, says they aren’t satisfied, you make no changes until they force the issue and make you uncomfortable.
That’s pretty rotten if you let it sink in. So basically you aren’t motivated to give a f**k unless you are directly and negatively impacted. Really think about that. You’ve hurt someone and you don’t care because you’re not hurt. Can that be the best you can do?
So by this standard you won’t care about drought, global warming, starving children, homeless families and a whole host of other problems unless you are directly affected. Oh wait. That sums up the American consciousness in a nutshell. If it doesn’t hurt me–am I supposed to care? Well, you can wait until it does affect you. But by then the solutions will be more difficult for you and everyone else, in fact they may no longer even exist because you’ve waited until California, our number one growing region, is a total desert. You’ve waited until the middle swath of the nation can only grow wheat for sick and dying animals you eat because monoculture has sucked the nutrients out of the soil.You wait for that–and you’ve just destroyed your food supply long term.
But why would you care? You’re chowing down on that lovely plate of hotdogs and chips, washing it back with a Coke. Well, there is the fact that this diet will contribute to your obesity, illness and early death. But, hey, why care ’til the day comes? Could be that day will be too late to bother with changing because your heart and veins look like the fat you’ve been eating and you can maybe stop from dying right away but you won’t reverse it. So you continue on and say, ‘well, what can I do anyway?’
Let’s hope if you’re reading this you are probably not that kind of unaware. But we are all unaware in some way so here’s some things for us:
It starts with the little stuff. If you don’t think that about what you’re doing until it hurts or affects you directly–change that.Think about what you do in the context of others first–then you.
Let yourself wonder how that person struggling to feed her kids got there–notice your own biases and then question if what you think is true or just what you think. Do that with everyone and everything around you. Start being curious about how things really work and why. Start really listening to people who try to share their experiences and wisdom–they’re trying to teach you something–be willing to learn.
In your close and intimate relationships– drop your guard–hear what’s being said to you and ask why it is being said.
If you’re hurting someone don’t make them take action. You take action first. Make amends and change what you’re doing or more importantly what you’re thinking which is causing you to act in a hurtful or thoughtless way.
Your desires are not more pressing, they are just what you’re aware of. Hold your wants as neutral and weigh carefully before seeking something, anything, for yourself.
Your mind wants to tell you that you are the center of the universe. It’s too tricky to say those words directly but it will constantly converse with you about what you think, want and need. What if you slowed your mind and instead of believing that inner dialogue, you asked it if that was even true? What if you asked yourself what the impact of you getting or doing what you want would be on others? (I’m guilty of wanting to express to free my heart and many times I’ve hurt others. I have tried to make amends but some cannot be made.)
You can transform to a caring, compassionate, aware and curious person as easily as observing your constant stream of thoughts and wondering…what is that about? Is it true?
It can be as easy as listening to the truth being offered you every day. If someone says your actions hurt them, then STOP IMMEDIATELY and end that. Make your true apology and let them know how you intend to stop doing that. If you and the other person are at an impasse in defining the hurt between you, the advice still works. Stop whatever you are doing and prioritize not hurting. If it means withdrawing for a time or permanently so as not to contribute to another person’s suffering then do that. Make a vow that you will not contribute to the suffering of another–no matter what. Be firm with yourself. This also applies to you. If you’re involved in something harmful to you–STOP IMMEDIATELY–don’t contribute to your own suffering where possible. (there are some exceptions but if you’re at that high level you’ll know).
Being kind is like being good at anything. It is a discipline built on a practice that you do every day, all the time. Breathe in, breathe out, slow down. Question your own thoughts and biases and promise yourself you will not hurt others and if you do, you will make it right to the best of your ability.
If we all did this we would be living in heaven on Earth.