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Cultivating Care for Others


In relationships we often blame, fear, get angry because we believe something is true about another that isn't necessarily so. It is something we presume and act on. But we never try to look at ourselves and other possibilities.

This can leave us very unhappy with our spouse, our family, our work, our neighbors, etc. and our attitude has to effect those around us, also. One women, Byron Katie, has suggested ways to help make ourselves and those around us happier.

When we are in a situation where we think we aren't appreciated or our children don't listen to us or something similar, we can sit down with ourselves to check on the reality of what we assume.

A first response may be "Yes, my thought about this person is true." But, if you probe deeper as to how you know it's true, you may realize that all you know is your feelings about what was said and/or done.

Because of your feelings what do you say or do? How do you act toward yourself and the other(s)? Do your feelings about this one happening enter into all your other relationships also?

You can ask yourself how you would be if the negative thought had never occurred to you? How would you feel and think about things in that relationship then?

To help yourself get at the answers to these last questions you can use your creativity to imagine other scenarios and how you feel in those. In the situation where I have felt unappreciated the different response may be something like the following: "My husband/wife appreciates me," recognizing it generally is true. Or "My husband/wife was not feeling good that day." Or "I really didn't take time to really hear what s/he was saying." Or "I don't appreciate myself."

This exercise means that one must be aware of one's own feelings. Be willing to accept that one may be causing one's own unhappiness. It means cultivating care of the other person(s) and giving them the benefit of the doubt that our negative judgment isn't so.

There may be times when a final action will be to talk about your supposition and what you know could be true as well with the one(s) involved. It gives them a chance to reflect on their own activity in the situation. As a parent of older children this can be a means of their growth in making choices regarding how to act.

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