Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Your breath done killed me to death!*

Have you ever heard the story of the boiling frog?

It goes something like this:  If you put a frog into boiling water it will jump right out.

Photo from Wikipedia 

But if you heat the water slowly, so slowly the change is near impossible to notice, the frog stays in the pot

Photo from Wikipedia
And then he basically dies (sorry, but that's how the story goes).

I was talking to my BFF the other day about the things we accept in life.  More so, the treatment we accept from others.   This has come up in several conversations I've had with people recently.  The idea that we must hate ourselves to put up with mistreatment from another person has come up in almost all of those conversations.  I’ve been guilty of saying the same thing, “I must have hated myself to date so-and-so for so long”.  But when my BFF said she must have hated herself to continue putting up with someone’s treatment my knee jerk reaction was, “No, that’s not it.”  We are so hard on ourselves at times.  Sometimes someone we care about has to go through something similar and we realize we were wrong as to our assumptions of why we do or don’t do something.

As soon as I said, “No” I realized I should offer what it could be.  I sat there for a few terrifying seconds, I spluttered and I’m certain I said, “It’s just not it.”

In moments I tried to analyze my own behavior and hers and those of my other friends to redefine why we accepted what we did.   Then I remembered the story of the frog.  No one I talked to would have accepted mistreatment if it was the first thing the other person had offered.  Rather, we were all pulled in for different reasons and then things changed.  I don’t want to point a finger of blame and say this person is bad and that person is the victim.  Life changes and relationships change and if we don’t take care, we can either find ourselves in the pot of water or even as the person turning up the heat.  Things we did not find satisfactory before become more and more tolerable until one day we realize what we've been putting up with and wondering if it is because we hate ourselves.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the way we treat people.  There are people that use others like doormats, people we take out our stress and emotions on, people we ignore, people we love them, and people we hate. 

I think we have misconceptions about who we are and our relation to others.  Recently, someone said, “You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but you do have to be kind.”  Another thing this fountain of wisdom said, “React as though people mean no harm” (Okay – I paraphrased there).   I think these are two bits of good advice.

You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but you do have to be kind.  I’ve never been a person who found meanness to be something easy, but I have met many people who seem to.  What do you gain from belittling someone?  What can be gained from spreading rumors about someone, from giving them the evil eye, from trying to exclude them? Long lasting happiness cannot be found in this.  Temporarily you may feel better, justified even, but demeaning others does not elevate you.  Turning your nose down toward another because of race, social class, religious beliefs, mistakes, sense of humor, personality, talents, quirks, etc. will do nothing to enhance who you are.  The people I admire most are in fact, the people who raise others.  The people who do not join in excluding others, the people who look for the good in them.

Elder Holland gave a great talk, Laborers in the Vineyard, in which he addresses this issue of feeling that someone else’s gain must mean your loss.  That is simply not true.  I've thought several times over the last few weeks about one thing he said:

I wish more people understood this.  You don't have to tear someone else down to feel better about yourself.  You have to understand who you really are and that we don't fall down when we lift another up.

The other thing: React as though people mean no harm.  I really need to work on this one myself.  I can only imagine how much happier I will be once I start to get the hang of it.  How much easier life will be if we we are kind and assume others are kind in return.    

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