Last night and today, I have been pondering the idea of truth and belief, how the two are tied together and can ultimately affect how you feel. I can choose to believe the truth or I can choose to believe my own personal beliefs are the truth. Confusing isn't it? The thing is, I'm a woman. As a woman, I have feelings that feel much like the truth. As a woman, I can be ruled by my emotions - they can loom large and fill up my heart and my head and feel very real and true.
For example, if I believe Jane Doe doesn't like me, this will affect my feelings and reactions about dear Jane. If Jane is having a bad day and she comes into my space with a frown on her face and is short and snappy with me, if I believe she doesn't like me, this just reinforces that. I think, ah, here is another example of the way she treats me, another proof to show that my belief is true. But the real truth is, Jane had a fight with her husband before she left which made her late to drop off the kids and almost late to work. She is feeling irritable and frazzled. I'm not even really on her radar right now. Her response to me really has nothing to do with me, but with the annoyances in her own life.
How many times do I let belief of this kind color my emotions and interactions with the people around me? Embarrassingly, far more than I should. I guess at heart, I am ego centric - if someone is unhappy, I must be at fault; if someone is irritated, it must have something to do with me and how they feel about me. This is rather embarrassing to even admit. What I try to explain away as "being nice" or "in tune", is really nothing more than too much self-focus. Memo to self - the world does not revolve around you - people have issues that have nothing to do with you.
The Bible tells us that as much as we are able, to be at peace with everyone. I think this means not to take everything personally. It's one of my New Year's goals this year - not to take things personally. I never realized how much I did it, until I made a concerted effort not to do it. I am not a person who is that easily offended so I thought I wouldn't have much work to do with this one. How humbling to find out that just isn't true.
I am also learning not to take on other people's feelings for the purpose of fixing them. If someone is unhappy, is it really up to me to "make them happy"? Is that even possible? Just as I need to choose how I react to things, so do other people. In Matthew it says, "Come to me you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke on you for my burden is light." Each of us goes through life with our own burden or, to use a word picture, a pack. A lot of times, I think I pack mine way too full with things that really don't belong in my pack. I've taken other people's stuff and now I am feeling weary and very burdened.
By no means am I advocating that we not try to meet each other's needs or to help our fellow person, but I know I waste a lot of energy worrying about upsetting or offending or making happy others when it really isn't my job. So, from now on, I am going to take interactions at face value. If my husband plops down and falls asleep, it is probably because he really is tired, not because he is purposely avoiding me. Here's to less worry and a whole lot more joy!