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It’s not what you think February 28, 2010

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Self-Development.
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The older I  get the less I believe in truth. Wow, that’s a good beginning sentence, isn’t it? Shocking. It would seem that as one grows older and wiser she (or he) would learn the secrets of life and be able to dispense these ‘truths’ to an ever increasing number of avid listeners. Huh….that’s a nice idea but it hasn’t been my experience.

Do I feel wiser than I did in my 30’s –most definitely. But the difference is I no longer think I have ‘the truth of it.’ People who have ‘the truth of it’ can be hard to be around. They and they alone know how the world works or at least how it should work. And it’s always according to their own particular (and sometimes peculiar) set of standards. Now, I’ve just offered you a very nice assessment that says a lot about me—read on.

Why do some people get on your last nerve?

What I really want to take a look at is how the things that annoy us are really more about us than about those who are getting on our last nerve.

Case in point. The other week my business partner and I were listening to some presentations that our students were giving to mark the close of our work together. The person who gave the presentation has a sense of humor that is a bit biting and cynical. This person was seemingly speaking in a negative way about the material that Lee and I had spent the last nine months presenting. I found it amusing because I knew there was going to be a turnaround at the end and because I knew that this guy had really come to understand and appreciate what we were teaching him. My partner, one the other hand did not find it a bit humorous and later told me that he had to really work to keep a positive mood during the presentation.

Look inside to figure it out

Lest you think that I am painting myself as a wonderfully easy-going and accepting person, let me hasten to assure you that I have my moments too. Last summer I attended a writer’s retreat (which you know if you are a regular reader of this blog). There was one woman there who was destined to be my Buddha. Sara had lost her husband seven months before and her grief was raw and ever-present. Every one of our sessions ended with Sara in gut-wrenching sobs. I absolutely hated it and wanted her to disappear. And even as I was working my way through that, I knew that it was totally about me and had very little to do with her. After all, she had every reason to be grief-stricken.

I did a lot of thinking about that and spent a few hours talking to my very patient friend Rachel about it. I realized that when my own husband died twenty years ago, I had not been in the position to really indulge my grief. I had a five year old son whom I had to support and I was in a challenging career path. My grief had to be pushed aside to take care of life. So my annoyance with  Sara had everything to do with some unfinished business of my own. I recently came across a great quote that speaks to this:

What we want to change in others is what we haven’t loved in ourselves. – Dr. John F. DeMartini

Hot buttons are all about you, you, you

Jungian psychology points to the idea that we all have a shadow self that is present and impacts who we are and how we live our lives. Without going into a whole lot of detail suffice it to say that when you think you have ‘the truth of it’ about someone or something, you really have your truth—the thing you have to believe because of who you are. When something hits one of your hot buttons, this really points to something in your personality (or psyche, or whatever—I’m not a psychologist) that you haven’t accepted and don’t love.

If this has been coming up for you lately, that is, you’re finding yourself being annoyed and cranky with the world in general, the place to look isn’t out there—it’s inside. The people I love most in the world are the ones who are open and wondrous about other possibilities. Looking inside when you get annoyed is a great place to start doing your work. And while you’re there, have some room in your thinking for the possibility that it may be all about you. Because whether you’re 18 or 80, you’re still a masterpiece in progress.

Go paint or something..

–Amara

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