Two Toxic Thoughts to Leave Behind.
Every day we process reality throughout the filter of our mind. We do not experience pure reality in any sense. The quality and cleanliness of the filter we use colors the people, places, and events of our day.
Two toxic thoughts that we are better off without are judging other people as anything less than ourselves, and any thought that we should control the behavior of others.
Judgment comes almost as naturally as breathing. From a young age we are taught the way that we should be and anyone who doesn’t conform to that standard is stupid, ignorant, selfish….etc. These labels only serve to distance us from others. It is in this distance that terrible things happen.
To use an extreme example, this is what happens to kids who are bullied and mocked at school. Because of an innocent difference, they are labeled as less than by their classmates. This creates a toxic space that emboldens some children to mock and hurt them. For me, it was because I was fat and nerdy. Being on the receiving end of that was awful.
But the truth is that it also hurts the kids who are being abusive. They don’t develop empathy, and compassion for the challenges that others face. They lose sight of their connection to others and this damages them. Brene Brown, in her book Braving the wilderness, talks about the need to move in close to people we don’t like.
She explains that it is very difficult to hate people up close. The more we get to know other people the more we can see how similar we are. We are not just similar in our genetic makeup. At a deep level, we are all the same. We struggle with love, hope, and happiness. By dropping our tendency to judge others, we create space for people to be themselves and to connect with us. In this connection, life is enriched for all of us.
The other toxic thought pattern we come across is a desire to control others. I find this to be especially true as a parent. We talk about letting our kids blossom as they are, but in reality, I only want them to blossom as they are, if it fits within my predetermined expectations. When my children, or others, begin to violate my expectations, I want to control them.
The irony of this is that I want to operate with full autonomy over my own life. I hate it when others try to control me. I am capable of making my own decisions. I am the only one who has all the information available, including my likes and dislikes, my aptitudes, and my tolerances. Therefore, I should be making the decisions. But isn’t this all true for all other people? Don’t they feel the same way about themselves? I think so.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t offer advice when it’s asked for or to help someone make a decision. This is about what we think about them and how we feel about them when they do things we don’t agree with.
The moment we realize that 99% of people are doing the absolute best they can, with the tools that they understand, to bring happiness and joy into their lives, we can relax. Some people have been given really good tools that work really well. Others have awful tools, that almost never get the job done, but it is all they have.
When we work from this paradigm, we act with grace and compassion. We leave judgment alone, and just seek to find love. It is my hope, that we can all leave these toxic thought patterns behind. If we do so, I believe the world will be a better place, and that is my dream for everyone.
Thanks for reading.