I remember a wise person in my lifetime who said, “When you have an extreme reaction to or dislike for a person, where you find it necessary to let others know how much you despise him or her, it usually means that you see something in that person that reminds you of yourself.”
When I first heard those words in my early adult years, I vehemently denied that to be true. Truth be told, I had a few choice words about the one I now consider to be a sage, decades later.
I saw this person as “full of self,” and showed my righteous indignation with my relentless “How DARE (fill-in-the-blank)?” I continued to tell my story of how I was wronged to anyone who would listen. Of course, it was always from my perspective, as I pointed out each and every flaw of my nemesis.
It was my own ego that kept me telling this story–and others like it as I saw myself as a victim–over-and-over again.
As I continue to learn and have shared this similar lesson with others, I admit that I can now better appreciate the wisdom shared with me decades ago, and wish that I had been willing to get to know this person. I would have spared myself many other uncomfortable life’s lessons, if only I had been willing to seek to truly understand more.
There will always be times when we will hear words that seem harsh to us, especially when challenged to take an honest look at a situation. Of course, we all come to these moments from a perception that has been framed by our own individual experiences in life…just as others do.
But just as we look at others with the judgment we can so quickly dole out, we must be willing to look in the mirror and concern ourselves with what it is in the reflection that is so similar to what we say we dislike in another.
Once we can look in that mirror without the anger, and begin to own what we see and learn to be kinder to ourselves, we may find that there are more opportunities to learn and grow from others who are much like us.