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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Get Some Distance

The "inner critic" is hard to shut up, especially when someone infringes on "I, me, my, mine."

Someone leaves a half-filled coffee cup on your desk. Someone borrows one of your CDs without asking. Someone disturbs you during your break. Someone cuts in line in front of you at the dry cleaners.

It's hard not to point an accusing fingers in cases like this. So here's a little tip: Learn to say (and think!) in terms of what's happening, not how you feel about it, or your rapidly-forming opinion of the perpetrator.

"There's a coffee cup on my desk," instead of, "Some idiot left a coffee cup on my desk."

"Someone has borrowed one of my CDs" instead of "I can't believe someone has taken my CD!"

Once you've mastered observing without judging, the next step is to see things from the other person's point-of-view: "Jane must really need my help if she's calling me during a break."

"This guy must be under some serious time constraints if he's willing to line-jump like this."

Getting this sort of distance helps us to avoid anger, one of Buddhism's "Three Poisons." (The other two, Greed and Ignorance, help explain a lot of the behavior we see around us, too!)

So learn to observe without judging, then to put yourself in the other guy's shoes.

You'll be happier.

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