It’s the simplest universal rule we hold, The Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. It won’t always work but you gotta try – no matter what.
Everyone, every single person, you meet has some sort of something else going on in their life that you are not aware of. It’s our job to accept that fact. If we don’t know what it is, or don’t know them. It doesn’t matter if that ‘something else’ is actually “acceptable” by our own personal standard. As you know, some people have standards you will never be able to meet so it pays to stay in your own lane.
Marie was a client of mine many years ago that felt the need to discuss every negative thing she noticed about others like it was her personal soap opera. Often, those others had no connection to her. They weren’t family members or friends. They were TV anchors, celebrities, or people she passed on the street. She cataloged every imperfection she thought needed fixing. Then told me about it!
“That boy needed to pull up his pants! How does he walk around like that! It’s not OK!”
“Disgusting! The woman was obese and she stood in the bank line like nothing was wrong!”
“If this guy’s going to be on TV, he better get a facelift!”
“She was so skinny, her clothes didn’t even fit!”
Things like that…
I had anticipated what would happen when I put a stop to it: There was nothing to talk about. She was face to face with herself, and when someone is keen on bashing others all the time it’s a telltale sign of personal unworthiness.
This isn’t unusual, it’s protection. There’s probably a lot of hurt. Brene Brown writes in Daring Greatly, that worthiness is our birthright. Believing that we are enough allows us to embrace worthiness; and that “cruelty is cheap, easy, and chicken-shit.”
Our discussions moved from criticism of others to self-criticism. It’s a practice, as Brown continues, to begin self-compassion. It requires that we “remember that our worthiness, that core belief that we are enough, comes only when we live inside our own story (even the messy ones).”
As we tear off a small piece of our own story and come to terms with it, we can eventually own all parts of our story. We can begin the external practice of The Golden Rule. We can become mindful of the fact that the person in front of you may have had an awful morning, or a sleepless night. By treating others the way you would like to be treated can only enhance your day – even if you had an awful morning or a sleepless night.
The thing to remember about a practice is that you will swerve into the other lane often, but you can always get back in your own.
Practice verb prac·tice \ˈprak-təs\
: to do something again and again in order to be come better at it (not perfect!)
: to do (something) regularly or constantly as an ordinary part of your life