2002-02-16 / Columnists

The Inner Voice

By Marilyn Gelfand

By Marilyn Gelfand

When we believe very strongly in our own personal values, it is often difficult to understand how other people can think something else. If, for example, I value hard work, it is incomprehensible to understand an individual who doesn't want to work, but rather prefers to live off the work of others. We often cling self-righteously to what we think is right, but another feels the same way about what he or she thinks. What we value determines our behavior and our perceptions.

It is possible to change our values. Often if we are open and willing to trust our perceptions, we become exposed to reality, as it is which doesn't coincide with what we thought originally. Then if we are still attached to our values, we resist the reality. We complain, think things aren't fair, blame others, etc., rather than change our own values. Sometimes the resistance can last for weeks or even months, and we can even make ourselves sick over it. We cause our own suffering rather than realize our suffering is just our own perceptions. We become ill over thinking people or situations should be different. We hurt ourselves by expecting other people to think like we do, and when they don't, make ourselves crazy. The other person may not even know what you are talking about.

When you find yourself suffering, not over physical pain, but emotional pain, see if you are being unreasonable in what you expect from another, the timing of a situation or just being unhappy because you didn't get what you want. If you can shift your own personal perception to what do I need to learn here, the suffering may disappear immediately.

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