Go to a restaurant, pick a booth behind a child, and smile at them. The next thing you know, they are playing peek-a-boo with you. They manage to get a real thrill out of “hiding” and then being discovered by you.
I wonder if we adults have our own versions of peek-a-boo. I know as an adult, I have gotten a lot better at hiding. As a child, I wanted to be discovered so hiding was pretty superficial, but as an adult, I have learned to hide behind all kinds of beliefs and feelings that make it difficult for me to even find myself.
The other day I got really frustrated with one of my husband’s more common and aggravating habits. Normally, I just ask him to please notice what he is doing because I’m finding it difficult to live with. This time, I presumed to understand his motivation. Mind you, I did not ask him about his motivation or intention. Now, I’m a spiritual counselor, I know it is rude and inappropriate to assume I know someone’s motivation better than they do, but there I was doing it anyway.
The thing about making presumptions is that they usually backfire because the person you are making the presumption about now has justifiable cause for trenching in and not listening to you because “Clearly, you don’t really know them.”
You got it! My presumption predictably backfired.
To make it all a little stickier, I was really upset with him, told him so and expected him to change so that I would feel better. (Those of you who have done some personal growth work know where this is going, don’t you?) Trying to get someone to change long-term to please you is most often a futile effort. People change because the change makes their life better, and ideally comes from a desire to create greater happiness, not to avoid anger.
Attempting to browbeat someone into changing by sharing my angry feelings is manipulation, not good communication. Browbeating someone based on a presumption is really shaky ground because presumptions are usually not accurate.
So let’s put this together. I’m angry with someone, not as much about his behavior, but more about my presumptions about his motivation, which has not been proven. I’m building a case on my volatile emotions. (No wonder so many men have come to believe that women’s emotions are just about raging hormones and have no real foundation.) Here is where I got confused and other people get confused too. My emotions were valid, but they weren’t about my husband. They were about me.
If indeed, I am the creator of my reality (and I believe I am) then I am angry about my inability to create or influence a reality I want but am not experiencing. By lashing out and blaming someone else, I don’t have to face myself, do I? I don’t have to address the real source and motivation of my own anger. I am hiding from my own insecurity. I am hiding from me.
Does that mean my husband is exempt from ever doing anything that should irritate me? No. He has different ways of doing things and sometimes his choices are down right irritating. It is appropriate to ask him to consider how his decisions affect me.
But it is inappropriate to attempt to shape his behavior with my anger. It is especially inappropriate when I haven’t looked inside to face my own insecurities and the motivations behind them, before asking him to do the same thing. When I do look at myself first, I usually find myself approaching my husband with a lot less presumption and a great deal more compassion.
For those of you doing the Creation Meditation with us, this is one of the main reasons we do this meditation practice. When emotions are strong, we take them into the womb of all possibilities and hold our feelings in compassion until they transform. We stop blaming others and we stop hiding from ourselves. We learn how to love our limits with infinite compassion; thereby, discovering more of our own radiant and limitless selves.
After all, children have the right idea about peek-a-boo. We are meant to be discovered!