February 22

Everything that irritates us
about others can lead us to
an understanding of ourselves.

Carl Jung


Today's Meditation:

This is a truth that I really dislike--it disturbs me a lot, because it's so often true that I react strongly to things that other people do or ways that other people act because I do similar things, or I act in similar ways, and I don't like that about myself.  I'd rather just point the finger and say something like, "Isn't that terrible?"  But if I'm truly aware of what's going on, I recognize something of myself in the action that I don't like seeing.

It's not a hard and fast law, of course.  Tailgaters irritate me, and I don't tailgate.  But one of the things I can learn about myself from this irritation is that safety really matters to me, and tailgaters create very unsafe conditions.

But I was talking to someone recently who didn't allow me to get a word in edgewise.  I thought it was rather rude, and it did irritate me.  A few hours later, though, when I was with a student, I found myself talking probably much more than I should have.  I stopped and thought, "Do I do that, too?" and of course, the answer had to be yes.  I was doing the exact same thing that irritated me in another person.  I can rationalize, of course, and come up with reasons for which I was more justified in talking more and listening less, but. . . .

If we want to, we can see irritation as a growing tool.  We definitely can learn about ourselves when we're irritated, either by figuring out why we feel as we do, or recognizing ways of acting that simply aren't what we would like them to be.  Either way, we can come out richer from our irritations--perhaps that's where the term "pearls of wisdom" originated?

Questions to consider:

Why is it so easy to be judgmental of others when they do things that irritate us, but not of ourselves when we do things that irritate others?

How might we go about finding out just what we do that irritates others? 

Why might we dislike in others some of the very same traits that we share with them?

For further thought:

Therefore what you notice and what irritates you in others can teach you important things about yourself, things you may not be aware of.  In a way, people can be like a mirror for you, a mirror that can help you to learn more about yourself, what you fear and how you may be fooling yourself.

Henrik Edberg


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