I was speaking to another parent this evening and we both commented on how nice the other parents in town were. Each parent I meet is concerned and focused on doing their best for their kids. We all have an immediate sense of comradery over this parenting gig and it’s comforting to know that we all have similar experiences.
Yet, I have met other parents who have vaguely labelled all other parents snobby or of the Stepford Wife ilk. I just haven’t seen it. But I also know that I probably would have been complaining that everyone was snobby and too perfect just a few years ago.
How I view others has changed drastically for two reasons. The first is that I finally feel good about myself. Once I really looked at myself and accepted myself with all my imperfections and flaws intact, I finally could accept those things in others. Also I felt less guarded about who I was. I gave myself permission to just be me because if someone did not like it, well, that’s their problem, not mine.
Secondly I practiced a Buddhist exercise in which I looked at each person I encountered during the course of a day and thought “I am you.” It radically changed my perspective on who I was and how I perceived everyone around me.
In the Art of Happiness the Dalai Lama explained how he related to people. He never focused on people as male or female, Tibetan or American, white or black. Each person he met he saw as a human who entered this world through birth, just like him. The details of our lives can separate us. We are all radically different in our own ways. Yet we all have this amazing commonality of being human.
If we lose the “me versus them” mindset, we are suddenly open to so much more connection. The “me versus them” mindset could be “I’m so much better than them” but it can also be “they will never accept me because I am …..” [fill in the blank]. Both ways of thinking stem from fear. Why do we fear one another when we have so much to gain by knowing each other?