2011-09-30 / Columnists

The Inner Voice

Commentary by Marilyn Gelfand

A Talmudic teaching says we don’t see people as they are, we see them as we are. We are always looking at others and forming some kind of opinion. We already know that we can’t account for how others do see us. But it is important to realize that we ourselves can look at people as we choose. When we have a strong reaction to what someone has said or done, it is good to look at ourselves as if the other is a mirror reflecting back something within ourselves that should be looked at as a possible blockage or as providing a way to learn detachment.

Some people always see others through competitive eyes even when they are doing noncompetitive activities. How another person looks, how he plays tennis or golf, who he hangs around with, how much money he makes, what he does for a living, etc., can all be sized up against me to determine who is superior. It is almost like a vertical accounting of who is on top, and I have to keep proving my superiority to myself. If you ever feel like you are being scrutinized or under surveillance, you may be with a person who is making a determination of where you fit in his success hierarchy. Do you have people whose company you don’t enjoy? Possibly they are extremely competitive and don’t waste time on trivialities. You will always be a rival unless you are so poor at the evaluation that you have become a non-threat because of your inabilities.

I like to look at people horizontally. We are all individual pieces of equal worth who interlock to make a giant puzzle. We are also separate from the other pieces at the same time. We can add ourselves in or choose to pull away or choose not to be in the puzzle at all.

What you see in others is your own choice. We want to be viewing others in reality, not through our own scripts of insecurity or neediness. When you don’t have to be superior, you can relax into life realizing that none of us is immortal.

Make life what you want it to be as much as possible.

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