I had a great opportunity to learn another lesson this week. I listened to the audio version of Robert M. Pirsig's book, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and was struck by one sentence that has been turning over and over in my mind since I heard it. "We always condemn most in others, he thought, that which we most fear in ourselves".
I think the reason my brain latched onto this particular statement is because I have been listening more closely to how I talk. Not the particular words, or even the particular subject matter, just one very general classification, is the talk positive or negative in nature?
What set me on this path of personal observation were the comments of one particularly loud fellow that I happened to be in the same room with one morning. Though I had no interest in hearing what this gentleman had to say, he was the type of person who did not seem to know the accepted rules of using his inside voice. So, whether I wanted to or not, I heard his on-going complaints about his vacation to St. Thomas. From the plane ride there to the plane ride home, this person could not find one positive thing to say. Then it struck me, most of the conversations I hear are negative in nature. What I find most fascinating is that some people do nothing but complain, but do it in a calm, even sing song style that it does not sound like complaining until you listen to their words. Then I wondered how often I engage in this same type of negativity? What I condemn most in others is that which I most fear in myself.
So, I consider this statement I heard a wake up / shake up call for me. Rather than just talking to talk, I am giving more thought to whether the words I am going to say will encourage another person or contribute to the ongoing negativity they are most likely exposed to. We have the ability to change people's minds, attitudes and lives with what we say. Understanding this, I feel more of a responsibility to think before I speak.
"The tongue...with it we bless Lord and Father and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth blessings and cursings. My brothers and sisters, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening fresh and salt water?" - James 3:8-11
So as you go through this week, take notice to what you hate in other people, then take a look at yourself. See anything familiar?