The Lessons of Animosity

I think a lot. Sometimes I feel like it’s an unfortunate side effect of being introverted as I am, but at the same time it’s a blessing. I spend a lot of time wading through messes, trying to figure out what I’m thinking – because honestly I don’t know sometimes, and it truly frustrates me. Then I get shots of clarity on occasions, which always feel like a release of pressure as you exit a hardship and have more of a sense of the hardship being “productive” and “worth it” (in retrospect, of course). In recent events, I’ve taken to really observing how I interact with people and most of the time I watch myself do and say things where I feel like someone should be there to slap my hand. No more cookies for you!

You know that friend that always seems to rub you the wrong way? The coworker you can’t stand? That person at the checkout ahead of you that just seems to be out to get you? These are the people that sometimes we have to pretend to like, but the more we reject these people in our lives, the more we seem to close out our connection to the world around us. Why do they get under our skin like that and bring to life the writhing loch ness monster coiled in our bellies?

Sometimes we’re just in a bad mood. Hungry, stressed, lacking in self-care. Other times we need to take a deeper look at why these people really bother us, and we can discover the nasty secrets about ourselves. It’s amazing how our minds know when we are looking in a mirror, even if we can’t admit that we might have a problem. We see traits in these people that we ourselves have, and we hate those traits. So we scowl, put on our “I hate the world” face and say that we are just the victim of a world that sucks.

You’re mad at the friend who always lies, because you know you’re not being honest with yourself. You grumble at your cynical coworker that complains all the time, when you go home and complain about how awful that person is. You get impatient at the person ahead of you with copious amounts of ridiculous coupons (because you’re certain it was planned that they would be ahead of you – they knew you had an appointment to go to after this), when really you just wish you could have more control over your finances.

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© Amy Holweger 2013

But realizing these things is hard, because it requires brutal honesty with ourselves. It requires us to admit that we might be wrong, and the people we hate really deserve to be loved and cared for because they are in pain just like we are – but maybe they don’t know it. You may not feel you can really love that jerk who lied to you, but at the least we can take it as an opportunity for self-reflection and be thankful for being able to see what we’re doing that might cause pain to others. And in that action we begin our path to a true joy, cultivated in a mind that is compassionate and aware.

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