Every year at this time I post about a teaching from Kahuna teacher Serge King that has had an enormous impact on my life. Serge likes to keep it short and simple, so the basic principle is: “People are who they are and they do what they do.
I believe that if everyone in the world learned this one and lived by it, peace would soon follow. As with many of his seemingly simple teachings, if you started exploring this one you’ll find it has tremendous depth.
The greatest source of disappointment, frustration, and anger toward others arises from having your own agenda/expectations about who you want them to be and how you want them to act/what you want them to do..The deep reality is that people are who they are and they are going to do what they do based on who they are. You can wish or will others to be somebody else as much you want. You may even occasionally manipulate someone into doing something that’s not what they want. But in the long run no one can be anyone other than who they are.
Your best defense, if you want to avoid being disappointed or upset by others, is to know them well enough to know who they are. Know what they do. Expect them to be who they are and do what they do. You’ll never be surprised by anyone’s behavior if you really know them.
And then realize who they are and what they do isn’t about you. Pretty much ever; even when someone attacks you, the attack has everything to do with who they are and nothing to do with you. So Don Miguel Ruiz’s advice, “Don’t take anything personally”, fits very well with this teaching. People are busy being who they are and doing what they do and none of it has anything to do with you. So don’t take it personally.
Is Aunt Murgatroyd going to tell unfunny jokes at the annual gathering, as always? Of course she is. It’s who she is and what she does. Is your cousin Snagglepuss going to bore everyone AGAIN with stories of his really dull job? You bet. Who he is, what he does. Is your overly protective dad going to criticize you like he always does? If his way of showing care is to fret and pick apart anything that doesn’t fit his view, then yup. Gonna do it. If he’s an unhappy guy who criticizes to express his dissatisfaction with the world, that’s who he is… gotta figure he’s gonna do it.
If you walk in with a chip on your shoulder because you know the irritating behavior(s) are going to arise but you’re secretly hoping it will be different, you’re going to get what you’re expecting: unhappiness and dejection. A lot of times we enter these situations knowing what they’ll do and expecting to be angry because of it. And you’ll pretty much get what you’re expecting — ongoing cycles of them being who they are and you being angry.
If you expect anyone to do anything other than what s/he does, you’re doomed to disappointment. When you can walk in knowing they’ll all be there being themselves and doing what they do, you’ll get what you knew you would. Know that nothing they do is about hurting, irritating, upsetting or disappointing you. They’re just being themselves.
When you can step aside from the behavior, know that it’s about them and not you, and stay centered, you can defuse most of the emotional turmoil that can make the holidays stressful.
The question we’ll explore in the next post is: can you love them anyway?