There is a good side and a bad side to everything. The positive and negative consequences that comes with each choice we make.
I’ve told this little story many times: If you choose to buy a bag of M&M’s there are both positive and negative consequences to that decision. The positives are that they taste great; they’re colorful and fun to eat; and they’re chocolate! The negatives are that it will set you back a couple of bucks for the big bag, you’ll have extra calories to manage and the dentist will be looking for you. So we have to weigh out the positives and negatives as we make the decision to buy the M&M’s in the first place.
Usually we go about our day making choices and decisions without much thought at all. We have the process finely tuned in our minds. Or so we think. We’ve bought lots of ‘treats’ through the years without all of the positive/negative conversation running through our consciousness. (Thus the extra 20 pounds around our middles and a dentist who’s planning yet another Bali vacation.)
Unfortunately, we make more complicated choices and decisions with similar tactics. At least I have. For me it’s relationship decisions. All relationships. Friends, family members and even romantic ones.
I’m an open, honest and trusting person. Like everything else in life it has both positive and negative connotations to it. On the positive side people know that what I say is what I really believe. They know that I’m not holding anything back. They know that I’ll do what I say. It allows for trust, fairness and non-judgement. I like that.
On the negative side, (which I REALLY dislike by the way), I tend to believe that other people are just as open and honest and trusting as I am. That others don’t hold anything back; that they’ll do what they say. And that I can trust them to be honest, fair and non-judgemental with me.
I’ve been called gullible and naive more than once. Then I met Terry Wydick. I met him while playing a Facebook game. We began chatting and then he became a teacher to me. He was open and honest with me. He was fair with me. He taught me that many others are not like me. Not even the people who I have allowed to be closest to me. Who know me the most.
One day after a particularly soul-bearing conversation with Terry, he spoke these words: “OPEN YOUR EYES AND SEE!”
I spent the next several days with my eyes wide open. I paid particular attention to the words people spoke to me and the actions that came with and after those words. I saw things.. the positives and negatives, the bright side and the dark side. I didn’t like all of what I saw. In fact, it began to change me. I was disappointed in myself and in others. I was disappointed that others had taken advantage of my open and trusting heart. What a gift I was giving them.
But mostly, I was disappointed with myself. I had created a false world for myself where people were as I wanted them to be. No.. they were as I needed them to be so that I could feel safe and loved.
And when Terry taught me to open my eyes, I was able to see truth. I saw the lies I had been told and the judgements that others were placing on me. What a train wreck my life had become. What a mess I had created.
But then I learned something else. I learned that I had to only be accountable for my choices and decisions. I was responsible for those.
Sure it feels bad when others use my honesty or openness as a tool to hurt me. When I share personal things from my past and then those things are thrown at me, what you are teaching me is that I can’t trust you with my most personal truths.
Yes it feels terrible when someone lies to me. When my children were little, I told them, if you lie to me, I might not find out today or tomorrow, but someday I will find out and when I do, I will know that I can no longer trust you.
And it leaves a mark on my heart when I look without judgement at the choices someone else makes. But they then cast judgement on the choices I make.
Just as Terry taught me a few years ago, I do have to open my eyes and see. But there is a second part to that. I learned that I don’t have to take things personally when others lie or take advantage me of, or pass judgement upon my choices. Because their behavior isn’t about me.
Author, Don Miguel Ruiz, of The Four Agreements teaches us to: “See Other People As They Are” “When you see other people as they are without taking it personally, you can never be hurt by what they say or do. Even if others lie to you, it is okay. They are lying to you because they are afraid you will discover that they are not perfect.”
It’s my gullible and naive hope that we will all continue to learn about ourselves and about life. I am who I am. Open, honest and trusting. I can’t and don’t want to change that. I see tremendous gifts both for myself and for those who I am close to if I continue to be who I am. Just as, you are who you are. And I love you for that.