In the previous emails I have focused on what we focus on become our reality.
But what are we to do to refocus our attention when confronted with bad behavior?
One of my guiding principles is the belief that: “At any moment people are doing the best they know how to do given the context in which they are doing it.”
This doesn’t mean I agree or affirm what they are doing, I just know it is the best they knew how to do in the circumstances they find themselves. This applies even to behavior that we find despicable, offensive, and repugnant.
Think of a time when you did something for which you are ashamed. Step back and notice that in that given moment it was the best you knew to do. I am sure if you could have done something else you would have done it, but given the context and level of fear you were experiencing that was you could do.
This principle is based on another core belief: “Underlying all behavior is a positive intention.” When working with people we need to be discovering the underlying positive intent. That is never the problem. The problem is the strategy to achieve that intent. For example at an extreme level a positive intention to stay safe, may result in murder and mayhem. I am not affirming that strategy, in fact I am strongly rejecting it, but I will honor their need to stay safe.
What we always need to be doing is learning new strategies, consistent with the Golden Rule to accomplish the positive intent.
As we look around our world at this time, we can see many offensive behaviors, people hoarding resources, politicians lying and blaming each other, business leaders acting with cold-hearted greed.
Think of one of these situations that offends you. Look at the people through the eyes of your offense. Notice how that makes you want to act… (For me it makes me very angry and wanting to smash their face in.)
Now take a step back and look at the people through the understanding, they are doing the best they know how to do to achieve a positive outcome.
Notice if and how that changes your internal experience… (For me I often feel sad, that is truly the best they know how to do. I may still resist their behavior but with compassion or tough love, rather than violence and wanting to do harm.)
Putting on the eyes of love.
With a smile.