Our Fall Teacher Training is in full motion. So far, it has been- in a word- amazing! There is so much to be learned during these sessions, both as the trainee and trainer. Throughout the process, one recurrent theme continues to emerge: self-centeredness. Instantly, this word conjures up horribly negative thoughts and your brain says – NOT ME!
But yes, you.
All of us are self-centered by default. Biologically, there is an innate response to first to think of yourself in any situation.
It’s hard to unwire the hardwired.
Consider your own life. Has there ever been an experience where you have not been the center of it? Wherever you go, there you are: people are in your way, the car cut you off, the clerk was rude to you, your neighbor ruined your day, and on and on. Your brain is on autopilot and demands the world to “CATER TO ME.” It’s wayyy easy to live life like this. I mean, in the age of selfies, how can one not be tempted into self-centeredness at every Insta post? But the hard truth is that this lifestyle causes terrible disappointment. Let’s look at the facts: when I last asked Siri, there were 7.4 billion people living on the earth today. Besides being incomprehensible, that number also tells you that it is scientifically impossible for the universe to revolve each and every one of these billions of faces to one focal point. On a smaller scale, let’s focus in on the mere hundreds of thousands of people you encounter in your life. How can you expect each of them to please you all of the time? They can’t, they won’t, and to be honest, they didn’t even consider it because they are too busy being the center of their own world. Now, you’re in their way!
The bottom line to this all is that you can’t control what others do or say, but what you can control is how you think about it. Imagine if you began to shift your thinking from a self-centered world to a world-centered self. This isn’t to say you start to be everything for everyone. Instead, before jumping into reaction, pause for a moment and consider what could be happening in their world. This is all easier said than done. When that bank teller shuts down two minutes too early, I want to use curse words. When my friend cancels on dinner for me at the last minute, I write (erase), write (erase) that passive-aggressive text. When the grocery store is out of my favorite peanut butter (that I made a special trip for), I storm out swearing that I’m done shopping there. But what if the answer isn’t what you think it is. What if those 2-minutes now allowed for the bank teller to get to her daughter’s first ballet recital? What if your friend is pregnant and has terrible food aversions and just isn’t ready to tell you the news? What if the stocker at the supermarket is overwhelmed at home and dropped the ball on ordering the right supplies? Maybe these are far-fetched and all untrue. But maybe they aren’t. Maybe it’s best to err on giving those around us the benefit of the doubt.
Don’t cave to those indignant inner feelings and give your energy away. Especially if it’s a situation that doesn’t deserve it, or you can’t control. Save it.
Practice controlled thinking and make an effort to consider another vantage point, even when it hurts. Even when it’s difficult. For it is not only your world that exists– it’s 7.4 billion others’, too.
Blog inspired by This is Water by David Foster Wallace.