It is very easy to get wrapped up in our own lives. To focus on self and personal experiences is part of being human. However, we have to strive to be other-centered, not only self-centered. When we lose sight that other people need to be heard, want comfort, validation or confirmation, we begin to lose our humanity. We see people as objects, or instruments for personal use, not independent agents who want and deserve our attention and compassion. It becomes easier to treat people unkind when we are over focused on self and personal agendas.
With some of my coaching clients, I try to get them to focus on other-centeredness by making a concept personal. Ironic as it is, when we can identify personal feelings we can then understand how someone else may feel. For example, I had a client who didn’t understand why his co-workers did not like to work with him. However, as we talked I noticed that he unconsciously made negative judgments of his peers. He would often be over critical of how other people made decisions or take actions. In the middle of his critical analysis of a peer whom he worked with on a team project, I asked him did anyone ever criticize him. He thought about it and said yes, his mom, as well as his manager, seem to be very critical in different situations. I further inquired and asked how does it make him feel when his mom or manager judge his decisions or actions so coarsely. My client immediately stated he hated it and it makes him feel worthless. So, I said to him, based on how you feel when someone judges you, how do you think other’s feel when you pass judgments on them. It was a startling revelation for this client to realize he was projecting the very same things he disliked on other people. We collaborated together to help him develop better strategies with giving “suggestions” verses criticizing others. After a few weeks, he noticed a big difference in how others treated him.
I provided this scenario for a reason. It is an example of how human beings can get lost in self, their ideas, feelings and outcomes. People tend to forget they must treat people the way they as individuals want to be treated. If you want to be heard, then listen. If you want love, then be loving. If you want people to involve you, then be inclusive of others. If you want support, be supportive. If you want friends, be friendly. Whatever it is you desire of people, be that essence that drives energy into manifestation. In other words, be the change you want to see in the world, as Gandhi said. Also, remember that other people have feelings, wants and needs as well. People want others to care about them. Don’t you want people to care about you? Of course you do. Therefore, what you are feeling, someone else may feel as well. Maybe not in the same capacity or to the same degree, but we all have emotions and desires to achieve a happy life. We are social beings and we rely on our interactions with each other for support. Therefore, let’s make a commitment to treat each other with respect, kindness, patience and compassion. It is nothing wrong with focusing on self. However, it is beneficial to a worthwhile existence when we can focus on each other in positive and productive ways.