All that is visible

All that is visible clings to the invisible,
the audible to the inaudible,
the tangible to the intangible,
Perhaps the thinkable to the unthinkable.

Lama Anagarika Govinda

 

Don’t be too quick or too slow to forgive

We’re told that it’s compassionate to forgive ourselves and other people.

It’s a great principle, sorely lacking in detail.

When, for example, is the time to forgive? And how do we do it?

By rushing to forgive we risk pushing legitimate feelings underground. On the other hand refusing to forgive is a lost opportunity for deeper connection and means that we carry unnecessary pain.

People react along the continuum of fast to slow depending on who they are and the situation, some things have a greater impact than others.

But at the extremes are:

  • Those who never forgive.
  • Those who forgive instantaneously.

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Fault-finders

There’s a fine line between demanding people and fault-finders.

Demanding people bring out the best in us by showing us what worked and didn’t.

We may feel upset that a report we slaved over doesn’t meet expectations and keeps coming back. But the feedback enables us to see what worked and where we’ve made wrong assumptions, left things out or there are areas that can be strengthened. Not only do the insights improve the current report but they also provide a mechanism for review that improves our work in the long term. Every iteration is an improvement. This is constructive.

Picky people are a different beast. They’re not interested in what’s good and bad, what worked and did not they head straight for what’s wrong and focus on nothing else.

There are other ways to describe these types: nitpicking, fault-finding, carping, critical.

The picky can be parents, partners, colleagues, friends, ourselves. What they have in common is that no matter how hard you try or what you accomplish it is never enough. The subtext of course is that: nor are you.

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Why rebellion can look just like conformity

It’s absurd to me that someone would vote a certain way because their parents did; but no less that they would only vote contrary to them (extrapolate broadly).

When the impetus for decision-making is based on pushing against something for the sake of it, conformity and rebellion look remarkably alike.

This pattern works its way out differently – parents give way to friends, bosses, or even ideas but we still have:

  1. The desire to differentiate ourselves; and
  2. The desire to belong.

Although this may be in sharper focus during certain developmental phases (the famed teenage years) the process continues through life.

It goes without saying that something isn’t true just because someone tells us it is, even if we love and respect that person. This is regardless of whether it’s a fact or set of values.

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Kindness can be brutal

When you’re on the receiving end of kindness — it’s milk — a honeyed sap with associations of mothering & the cosseted dark womb.

But being kind is an altogether different experience.

It’s rising in the dark to run despite rain & icy winds while the world is sleeping.

Being kind can mean:

  • Suppressing the urge to lash out because you feel momentarily better.
  • Letting it go through to the keeper.
  • Putting your needs second, third or taking them off the table, this time.
  • Not adding fuel to the fire though you’re desperate to do so.
  • Refusing to let someone else’s feelings determine yours.
  • Sometimes, not speaking out.
  • Sometimes, not saying what you really think.
  • Appreciating a person is not just their last encounter with you.
  • Remembering the good when you don’t want to.
  • Knowing that when someone strikes at your sense of self it’s because they desperately need to affirm theirs and feeling compassion, rather than anger, for that humanness.
  • Seeing yourself in the above.
  • Admitting that you too can be unkind.

It’s not for the meek. Kindness demands vigilance, acute self-awareness and internal restraint, for which the rewards are not always obvious.

You also need to know the border at which kindness transmutes into self-abuse and not step over it.

That’s the sharper edge of the practice that means you must also know when to: (more…)

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