How we sabotage our relationships, at work and elsewhere

I want to talk some more about how we all seem to sabotage ourselves in our relationships with others. This conversation applies to bosses with their employees, employees with their bosses, individuals with their spouses, children and friends and even how we relate to strangers and casual acquaintances. Have I covered every situation?

The first thing we have to ask ourselves when we look at another person is: through what eyes am I looking? While that might seem like a strange question, as a practical matter it is very relevant. If we were truly an enlightened being, we would look at everyone through what I would call the eyes of love. We would see what Marianne Williamson calls another brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous human being, doing the very best they can, with the tools they have available to them, to be the very best they can be. Sounds pretty weird? That’s because hardly any of us do that.

Instead, because we’re not yet so enlightened, we look through the eyes of judgment and almost instantly create a story about who the other person is. And, the more we interact with the other person, the more complete and solid the story becomes. Eventually, who they are is our story and no matter how they may change, they will always be the person we have the story about.

Here’s a dramatic example. Almost 20 years ago, I had a relationship with a woman I will call Sarah. We dated for awhile, even went on a couple of trips together. Unfortunately, at some level, I brought up in her some unfinished business she had with her mother and it got to the point where I just annoyed her to the max. Needless to say, the relationship didn’t last.

Interestingly enough, several years later, upon realizing that her issue with me was more about her relationship with her mother then with me, she actually called me one day, explained that, and apologized for how she related to and treated me. I was quite happy about that and thought we were complete.

So, a week or so ago, I saw her at this church I went to and, seeing her sitting by herself in the front row, chose to go and sit beside her. She smiled and we even chatted a bit with each other during the service and it was quite friendly. Knowing what I’m saying here and realizing that 20 years have gone by since we first met, I became quite curious about who she is today. I knew who she was 20 years ago, but that was 20 years ago.

Just trying to be friendly, and giving in to my curiosity, I asked her if she wanted to go to lunch and get caught up with each other. Her response was: it’s fine that you sit next to me at church but that’s as far as I’m willing to go with you. End of story.

Get the point? Why would she say something like that? It was immediately clear to me that who I am for her is her story about me and that’s not a very happy story. So even though her relationship with me was based on her issues with her mother and all that occurred 20 years ago, she was so stuck in that story that she couldn’t even consider the possibility of a lunch.

While this is to me an extreme example, I promise you, you do this in every one of your relationships. We so quickly lose our ability to relate to others as pure possibility and all we see is our story, And even if it’s a good story, it’s still a story and our ability to see the beauty in the other person is limited by the story. So until next week, start noticing how much you do this with ALL the people in your life and we’ll talk more than. 

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