The Dreadful Mistake You May Be Making About Your Enemy

Quite some time ago, I had a very dear friend who surprised me by something she did.

In a bad way.

Like a scene from a great Shakespeare tragedy, she misunderstood something about me and assumed the worst and decided the best way to handle it was to never speak to me again, without explanation or confrontation, and then get vicious.

She shouldn’t think I’m a dishonest person.

Is that true?

Yes! Yes! I am totally honest! She is WRONG about me! She got some kind of twisted, unclear information and…

Wait.

Answer the question.

Can you absolutely know that it’s true that someone shouldn’t think poorly of you? Really?

No. People are allowed to think what they think. I have no idea why this unusual and strange situation appeared. It did.

How do you react when you believe that someone has the wrong idea about you? Or a completely distorted, maybe disturbed view of you?

I want to fix it! This is where the phrase comes from “I must clear my good name!”

I mean….people die in the movies clearing OTHER peoples’ good names, so I definitely need to prove mine. Right?

Inside, with this thought, is a feeling of deep sadness. Puzzled. Thinking “what did I do to make such a weird idea come out of her? Maybe I should have done it differently!”

Defensive, confused.

The urge to be thought well of, especially when someone appears to be saying things that aren’t even true, is strong. I feel separate from that other person, who seems to have gone a little nuts, or isn’t seeing things “right”.

Sigh.

Now the grand question….who would you be without the belief that someone shouldn’t think you are dishonest (or whatever you think they are thinking)?

As you hold that dear person’s face in your mind and heart, even if they’ve said terrible and mean things about you…who would you be right now if you couldn’t even have the thought that it’s a problem?

It’s not denial I’m talking about. It’s relaxing, in the presence of something that appears to be an attack.

Stepping to the side.

Laying down your defensive arms.

“So when you find yourself in a dark place where you’ve been countless, countless times, you can think maybe it’s time to get a little golden spade and dig myself out of this place.” ~ Pema Chodron

As Pema Chodron’s teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, said to her when she said she felt angry, depressed, and unhappy one day:

“You find yourself lying on the bottom of the ocean with your face in the sand, and even though all the sand is going up your nose and into your mouth and your eyes and ears, you stand up and you begin walking again. Then the next wave comes and knocks you down. The waves just keep coming, but each time you get knocked down, you stand up and keep walking. After a while, you’ll find that the waves appear to be getting smaller.”

Without the belief that someone should think better of me than they do, I notice the waves feel smaller.

In fact, I notice that in this room, in this moment as I remember my friend, there aren’t any waves.

I can think of her with great appreciation for how much fun we used to have, our long and thorough conversations, the sweet connection we had for about four years.

Turning the thought around: “she should think I’m dishonest.”

How is that good for me, for the world, that she thinks what she thinks?

Well, partly because of her assumptions, I retraced my steps and found I had done everything perfectly, by the book (and I didn’t even know it!) when it came to my career.

I have more free time, not getting together with her. I don’t like to spend money on restaurant food very much, or be around people who drink a lot of alcohol, so that’s eliminated.

And dishonest? I’ve withheld how I truly feel a thousand times to others, I’ve pretended I was sick to get out of doing something, I’ve made myself out to be less fearful than I really am.

I shouldn’t think she’s a dishonest person.

Oh. Wow.

She’s doing the best she can. Everyone is. I don’t know what’s going on over there, with her.

My perception of her is actually inside ME. It’s ME that’s got a trigger of sadness and upset at being thought poorly of….I haven’t talked with her in ages.

“You will be surprised to find that in most situations there’s nothing to deal with except for your own fears and desires. Fear and desire make everything seem so complicated. If you don’t have fear or desire about an event, there’s really nothing to deal with. You simply allow life to unfold and interact with it in a natural and rational manner.” ~ Michael Singer

I notice that when I’m believing I know what someone else should be thinking or feeling, it’s very, very stressful.

My only project is me, and my own thoughts and feelings. And even that is not really a project.

Now that’s easier….to make an understatement.

“There is no greater misfortune than underestimating your enemy. Underestimating your enemy means thinking he is evil. Thus you destroy your three treasures (simplicity, patience and compassion) and become an enemy yourself. 

When two great forces oppose each other, the victory will go to the one that knows how to yield.” ~ Tao Te Ching #69

That person who finds you less than wonderful?

Thank them for showing you what is needed to truly love unconditionally.

You don’t have to say it out loud, or even contact them. It’s for you.

You’ll be OK, it’s safe. You’ll be more than OK. Really.

Much love, Grace

2 Responses to The Dreadful Mistake You May Be Making About Your Enemy

  1. Yes, so funny how much analysis, ruminating, or agonizing about “why” or whatever else–and no one there, just thoughts. Ha ha! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Awesome, Grace. I’ve had this happen maybe 4 or 5 times in my life, spaced years apart. I spent time agonizing over each one at the time, some of them for years. The Work makes it clear how unnecessary that is. The only thing that agonized was my own mind. These individuals were nowhere around for 99% of the time spent agonizing. I looked around the room and there was no one but me – and my thoughts.

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