Why People Who Get On Your Nerves Can Be Your Greatest Teachers
Sometimes our most negative encounters can offer us great spiritual guidance. For instance, I once had a blow-out fight with a woman at a car rental counter. For whatever reason she felt the need to flaunt her power and go out of her way to make things difficult for me. And my reaction wasn’t so cute. I felt the need to respond with my own power play by threatening to call her manager and make a complaint.
So I did just that.
Hours after stating my claim to her corporate office and regional manager, I felt no better. I thought that complaining about how poorly I was treated would help me get over the experience. Oddly, it made me feel worse — even empty inside. I sat with my feelings and explored what the lesson was for me in this situation.
Let people be a mirror to reflect back to you what you need to address in yourself.
In the stillness I heard my inner voice recite one of Yogi Bhajan’s five sutras for the Aquarian age: “Recognize the other person is you.” I was pretty floored by my inner guide — the message was so clear and resonant.
I went on to explore what it was about this angry customer service rep that triggered me. I came to realize that her behavior was merely mirroring a disowned part of my own shadow. In silent contemplation I was able to accept that deep down there was a part of me that wanted to control the situation and the outcome. This was the same quality the customer-service representative had. Her deep-rooted need to be in control came head-to-head with my need to be in control — and all hell broke loose.
The moment I realized that her pain and suffering was mine too, was the instant that compassion set in. I felt a deep sense of love and connection to this woman whom I was fighting with just hours ago. I felt compassion for her sadness, her powerlessness and her need to be in control. I then turned the compassion in toward myself. I honored the dark places within me that still felt the same need to control, exercise power and release unfelt pain.
Another of the five sutras for the Aquarian age is, “Understand through compassion or you will misunderstand the times.” This sutra echoed through my mind as I healed my false perception of the woman at the car rental kiosk. In the midst of compassion I was able to reconnect with what is real, what connects us and why we’re here — to love and be loved. When we choose to dissolve all boundaries with love then we truly begin living.
The key point in this message is that even complete strangers can offer us opportunities to look more closely at the shadow sides of ourselves that we want to keep hidden. A Course in Miracles teaches, “The hidden can terrify not for what it is, but for its hiddenness.” The issue isn’t what we’re hiding, it’s that we’re unwilling to expose it to the light and deal with it. The miracle moments that become the witness of our ego’s shadow are the moments when we can truly surrender. Let people be a mirror to reflect back to you what you need to address in yourself.
The next time someone riles you up, witness your reaction and remember that the qualities you don't like in them are a disowned part of your shadow. Be still and allow your inner guide to teach you what you need to release. Be willing to recognize that the other person is you, understand through compassion and allow these people to be your greatest teachers.
Oneness, compassion and love are what we need to connect and serve the world. We’re living in a time when separation and attack have destroyed cultures and communities, and ended countless lives. No matter where you are in the world you are feeling the effect of this separation. We all have a role to play in healing the energy of the world, so that we can balance out the negativity that has taken over. It is our responsibility to heal our false perceptions of others and lead from a place of compassion and grace.
If you feel called to shift your own energy and raise the consciousness of the planet, I welcome you to join Deepak Chopra and me on July 11th for the second annual Global Meditation. This live event will gather hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world to share in one intention — compassion. It’s our time as love-minded individuals to commit more fully to strengthening interconnectedness, community and love.
We are stronger and more powerful when we work together and engage as one.
For more information on the event or to pre-register, please visit The Chopra Center.