Today I’ve been thinking about the human condition. Specifically, how we relate to each other interpersonally, and the consequences of our thoughts, words, and actions. In the last week, several situations have been shared with me (personal and professional) wherein manipulative, narcissistic, mean-spirited behaviors were described. In each case, the costs – time, financial, and relational – were high.
I felt empathy for those sharing with me, but I also felt sorry for the others too. I believe our thoughts, words, and actions stem from two places: love or fear. I also think when humans model patterns of behavior that are narcissistic, manipulative, or down-right mean, there is an unfortunate past experience (or experiences) that created a foundation of fear in them. It could be fear for safety or health; fear of not being good enough, smart enough, or talented enough; or fear of, well, losing something.
My assumption of unfortunate past experiences isn’t what caused me to feel sorry for them, however. I felt sorry for them because they are letting their current experiences be sabotaged by their past. They haven’t realized they are not perpetual victims. In fact, at this point, they are likely perpetuating unpleasant experiences for themselves, with their own thoughts, words, and actions. Ouch!
Here’s the “however”: In my experience, when people learn to accept responsibility for their actions and emotions, they begin to see the role they play in their own unhappiness. When they begin to understand their responsibility, they create space to actually gain control over their own thoughts, words, and actions. Then, they are equipped to accurately discern what does and does not produce desired feelings and outcomes. At this point, things can improve for them and those around them – if they so choose.
Today, as I ponder the plight of humans bogged-down by past experiences and ongoing fear-based thoughts, words, and actions, I am reminded of three simple remedies:
- Model the behaviors you would like to receive from others. I don’t mean when it is advantageous, or you think someone who matters is watching. I mean, model the behaviors you would like to receive from others.
- Recognize the sponsor of your thoughts, words, and actions. Is it fear or love? If you dig, you’ll find it stems from one or the other. Hint: One promotes harmony, collaboration, creativity, success and “happiness”. The other encourages the opposite.
- Honor yourself: Some find this to be a contradictory concept, but I assure you it is not. Choosing thoughts, words, and actions grounded by love is NOT synonymous with being taken advantage of, belittled, or abused. Allowing yourself to be taken advantage of in any way is not a very loving thing to do for yourself…Nor does it jive with #1 or #2.
I’ll close with this: If I consistently choose my thoughts, words, and actions from a place of love and You do the same, even though our personalities, backgrounds, goals, motivations and interests differ, everything will be just fine – maybe even AMAZING!