There isn’t a right or wrong style to have, but if you do have that style where you’re more comfortable focusing on other people, and I know this is true of a lot of people who are drawn to meditation and compassion practice, this idea of wanting to be kind and compassionate to others. It feels good, it does! I don’t think it’s helpful to say that is selfish or bad. We are actually experiencing something beautiful when we love other people. When we’re making someone else feel good, that is a beautiful thing. However, I think what we’re pointing to is the ability to identify our needs and then give voice to them. That brings up all kinds of interesting questions about what if when I share my needs that might make the other person not like me. Uh oh. The other person might not care. Ouch.
So it seems like there is one thing going on and then as we look more there is some consequence to being honest sometimes and sharing our feelings. It might reveal something we don’t want to see. I can speak from personal experience of avoiding red flags with people because I didn’t want to see them. I wanted it all to work out or I wanted to just look at the good parts. Then of course if I did share something I wanted and it was met with indifference, I didn’t even see that as a problem per se, especially because I was practicing this compassion stuff so much I thought it was fine. Now of course I don’t think it’s fine.
Now if you’re really good at looking out for yourself and your own interests and you’re good at voicing what you need, that is wonderful, it’s not a bad thing. There is this question of what would it be like to compromise a little more. Then the same thing comes up for people in that position because they like being in charge, being in control. Giving up some control might up bring up some fear.
I don’t think it is really different, there are just different modes of trying to have this false sense of control, which is the fear-based clinging.
How do we work with that fear? What comes up for you? What is hard for you? For me, there is a loneliness. There is a gap. One of my core things with this I think is if I look at my needs and I have to feel those and they’re different from what a partner or friend or colleague needs, there is this fear of that distance and the possible conflict getting worse. That is a kind of loneliness of just having to hold my own seat and be there for myself. Why and how could I do that if I’m not comfortable with myself? So this is that vicious cycle of looking outward, but that is just one style.
What does it mean to be sympathetic to ourselves, to be on our own side? Not in a biased way, I think we fear that then we’ll just be self absorbed or whatever the culture might have around that, but actually really sympathizing with ourselves, and just feeling ourselves.
This is part of an ongoing series. Stay tuned for Part 9!
Maitri For Our Time Part 1
Maitri For Our Time Part 2
Maitri For Our Time Part 3
Maitri For Our Time Part 4
Maitri For Our Time Part 5
Maitri For Our Time Part 6
Maitri For Our Time Part 7
Maitri For Our Time Part 8
Maitri For Our Time Part 9
Maitri For Our Time Part 10