The same unthoughtful expressions kept coming out of his mouth, just so ego-ridden that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and shake my head every single time he opened his mouth. Things like “ Yea, yea I got 5 offers at these firms… No, I’m not going to interview with them, not what I want to do… Well, maybe, if they can pay me enough.” To distance myself I couldn’t even call him by his first name, even though we were peers, I called him Mr. Smith or “Smith” (name’s been changed to protect his identity) because the first name basis was way too close for comfort.
I’d been practicing active compassion as a form of meditation for about 2 years before meeting him and couldn’t for the life of me apply it to this guy. He just struck you as the type that would throw his mother under a bus to get that big corporate job and coat the path with as many lies as necessary in the process. People have a tendency to allow their primal desires take the reins when they’re in a place of want and when those things are no longer an issue we operate out of a “Greater Self” which is self-explanatory, it’s the highest version of self that exists in every regard.
I had recognized the challenge, I needed to see him through more compassionate eyes because:
1) The Golden Rule: I’d want others to treat me with compassion if I was in the same place, overwhelmed by pride and ego so much so that I had to keep all eyes on me out of fear that others would find out the truth,
2) The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: I knew that if I treated him like the person he wanted to be, or as if he’d already made it, he would lean into that persona and not be driven by the primal desire to put on the show, and
3) Freedom from Self-Criticism: My perception of him had to come from some sort of self-perception that felt wounded when I would hear about, or from, this big-talking guy and the more I critiqued him internally the more I became aware of how much self-criticism I was doling out while making the comparisons. I couldn’t continue to deny how much my environment was a mirror, a direct reflection of where I was in my life, inside, and that I was letting the negative aspects of my environment become an excuse for not dealing with my own issues.
This was a 2 year process, I went from not even wanting to acknowledge his presence with a simple nod to starting to see him in the eye and smile when I saw him. He would return the acknowledgment. Then slowly we’d say “Hey” in the halls and as I let go of the dark image of him I saw my own shadow start to shift. My kindness towards him was returned and our conversations became more substantive, he’d mention dreams and things he wanted to do and that openness was greatly appreciated as well as proof that he was living into the image of a Greater Self that did exist in him. Every time a thought would creep in I reminded myself that it was as much of a reflection of my inner self as it was my environment, and I’d backtrack and go right into my self-reflection asking myself “why?!” “why does his ego big-man talk get to me so much?”
Due to that consistent reflection our relationship got better and even though we didn’t go past an acquaintanceship my interactions with him helped me resolve many of my underlying issues. We got to have a few conversations and he treated me with respect and compassion because that was what I was sending his way. When he’d go back into his script I’d help him redirect into a conversation that created value for the moment and he’d forget about the story he was about to spin.
The focus was mutually beneficial; it was a way to help myself overcome my own shortcomings by realizing it through the expressions of another. I’ve come to find that whatever emotions a certain situation or person elicits from me means that it’s unresolved within me. So Roy, as I eventually had come to call him, helped me see that I too was in a place in my life that I had hoped to bypass. I realized that :
Internally I was a “wishin, and a hopin’” to already be that accomplished professional and not have to go through the necessary trials and tribulations of earning that position. Battling with those inner demons because of that outer mirror helped me to realize more of my Greater Self and lean into my Greater Self.
Who in your life creates that pang of either irritability, anxiety, or just plain pisses you off? Next time you think of them maybe try and see them as if they were already their Greater Selves and see where that takes you. It won’t be easy, but all good things take time.
You Live. You Learn.