I love walking around the lake near my home. There’s this white-haired bearded man who looks like a Himalayan guru. Over the years, when we’ve crossed paths, we’ve walked around the lake to chitchat like old friends. We never think to ask each other’s names, but we have the most delightful conversations.
Recently, after not seeing him at all this year, our paths surprisingly crossed again. Delighted to see each other, we grasped each other’s hands in happiness. We picked up from where we left off, expressing our gratitude at how lucky we are for our health. (He first met me, a few years back, when I had been in a wheelchair and was figuring out how to walk again.)
This time, he wanted to talk about the relationships around us and what we might unconsciously be doing to harm them. He wanted my young person’s perception.
I told him that I thought three things can unconsciously affect our relationships. I broke them down to my three “C” words and how they are double-edged swords.
#1 Comparing ourselves
It is natural to want to compare ourselves to others and see where we stand. It also helps us know what is possible out there. That’s the good side of comparing.
However, far too often we compare to judge others. We compare to feed our egos. When we’re not getting our way, we can find ourselves thinking we are not getting enough and become resentful. That is when comparing has gone the wrong way and we damage our relationships.
Competing to tear each other down to win is obviously destructive. But so is refusing to compete. I grew up thinking that humility was the most important value. Unfortunately, it didn’t allow me to really let myself shine. I was one of the most non-competitive people you’ll ever meet, thinking that servitude meant erasing myself.
But to give ourselves 100 per cent we must be willing to stretch and to look at what’s possible. We need to compete against our past and be the best we can be. That means we have more to offer others by competing to take our place in the world.
When we do this without diminishing others, we’re giving them a reason to be their best too. Healthy relationships offers us opportunities to hone good competition which then motivates us to achieve more.
We all need some downtime. Always being in action or reacting to drama is actually unhealthy. The danger is when we become passive in our work lives and in our important relationships at home.
It is important that we challenge ourselves and stretch to ensure that we are growing. Being flexible and having an active mind is a huge part of resiliency. And being active in our relationships is the antidote to not taking someone for granted.
Putting them together
All of these lead to being inspired to set goals and take action — compare in order to set a healthy goal; compete to be the best leader at home or at work; and never be so comfortable that you become complacent.
I was sharing my philosophy that when these habits are misused, they separate us from one another. And, I added, when we are separated from one another, we are separated from the Divine. Whether around a loved one or a valued person in our business life, we owe it to ourselves to be conscious of these so we use them wisely to truly be at our best.
My so-called Himalayan guru friend loved these ideas of mine. He told me that for a young person (I’m 55) I’m quite clever and he encouraged me to teach.
My heart is warmed. I know that I was touched by the Divine through this chance meeting. The comparing was born of curiosity, the challenging each other in the discussion was to encourage growth and we did not take this time together for granted.
As we said goodbye, not knowing when our schedules would match up again, we hugged like old friends.
Has that ever happened to you? Have you had chance meetings that warmed you up and energized you unexpectedly?
What do you think of my little theory? I’d love to hear from you!
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