The most difficult confrontation one has is with themselves. To be clear about who they really are. What they really stand for. Do this simple experiment: Ask everybody in the room, or at the barber, or with friends, “who considers him or herself to be a good person?” I bet you everybody would raise their hand. Which in turn raises the question: where do all the bad people go? If everyone is good, where do bad people come from? Are they vampires? phantoms? They are never there. Everybody assures you how good they are. Many even make sure you know, by telling stories of their virtues, and how they are so kind and helpful. Yet people never return the favor and are so cruel and selfish. Where are these selfish people? These piranhas? Never to be found. Amazing. I am not trying to be facetious here. OK maybe I am just a little bit. But don’t you think this is a good question?
The answer might be that they do not exist. Maybe there are no bad people out there. At least none who admit to be bad. Some blame others for what they do “The society made me do it.” Others blame their bad luck. Or maybe they made a mistake. But the answer can never be that they are bad people. It seems everyone is going to heaven after all.
Enough Facetiousness and let us get serious for a second.
I have to at least attempt an answer to the question. See. Everybody tell themselves a story about themselves and life in general. Everybody makes up their story in their mind. It is their own reality. So in their eyes they are so righteous and great. At least they are not bad. It is a story. So if you think you are a “good person,” rest assured it is just a story you tell yourself. Even if everybody around you assures you that you are indeed the best there is, it is just a story that YOU, not them, tell yourself. Because it is your interpretation of what they are saying. Not what they really think. And definitely not necessarily the truth, and definitely not the whole truth.
So each of us has a story and we tell it to others and to ourselves. And everybody is right. At least in their own mind. Their story is their reality. What about those who convince you that they have a very sad life, but from your point of view seem to be so well? You are both right. In their mind, they are doing so badly but in your mind they are doing so well.
So the story others tell you is just their story. You can choose to buy into it, or even make it your story. Or you can choose to toss it away and refuse it. Or you can just let it be. Not judge it. For example, Ahmed asks you “Why are you so cranky today. What is your story?” In reality, this is Ahmed’s story. Not yours. So, what others think of you is none of your business. It is their story. Not yours. This is so easy to say, but so hard to remember. It needs time, patience and presence.
I will end with a funny “story”. A friend of mine was told a story by his dad throughout his life that he is a coward. His dad passed away. My friend is now in his fifties. He is capable. He does not strike me as a coward at all. He is a normal human being. His self confidence betrays him in tough situations. He then remembers the story his dad told him. And instead of rising up to the situation, he chooses sometimes to withdraw. So what is the real story here? The fact of the matter is that somehow my friend believed a story that his dad told him about how cowardly he is. He made it his story. See, I cannot blame my friend when he was a kid. I cannot blame his dad. Who knows what his dad was thinking. Neither the child nor the dad knew any better. My adult friend now adopts a story, that is negative and hurtful, and made it his. But now he is an adult. He has a choice now to let go of this story. But he chooses to hold on to it. It is his choice. It is his story.
What stories do you tell yourself? Did someone treat you unjustly? Does your boss hate you? your kids are not good enough? Are you “Not Ready”? Do you need more time? What are you telling yourself? It is your story. It is your choice.