By Meditation Teacher Andrew Shykofsky
The hardest thing we can do in this life is to learn how to love people and then do it consistently.
The simple answer as to why this is so difficult is because some people make it really hard for us to be around them. Their various rough edges, inconsistencies, selfish behaviors, bad attitudes, annoying mannerisms and such tend to rub us, irritate us and eventually drive us to distance ourselves. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we could hang out with the people we liked and just ‘love’ the others quietly without actually relating to them?
Well, the answer is yes, it would be. And most people do just that. They make the decision to be in relationship with a very small group of friends and family and keep a healthy distance from most everyone else. This is the norm and there is absolutely nothing heroic about this choice. But here in the Wisdom School, we strive for a higher ideal. We strive to overcome the difficulty loving someone despite how they may irritate and frustrate us.
This doesn’t mean that we subject ourselves to abuse nor allow energy vampires to drain us of our life force. But it does mean we strive to become the God that is within us and treat people as God would. Hence the expression we have often heard, ‘What would Jesus do?’ We will have to develop a pattern of ignoring our initial impulse of being critical, annoyed and judgmental and find the kind of love that Jesus showed everyone and where that place is within us.
The choice to love oneself and others is a tough one and it will require a person to have some inner strength and determination. There are many times along the way when it can feel too hard and as though very little progress is occurring but rest assured, progress is occurring and God is keeping His eye upon the ones striving to fulfill this very important step in our soul mission.
In the beginning, we notice our very keen ability to identify everything that is off or wrong with others. We notice people when they are brash, uncouth, loud, selfish, nosy, negative, gossipy, conniving, deceitful, judgmental… you get the idea. This is because we are trained to find flaws in others by the mass mind mentality. But finding flaws in people is actually pretty easy. Again, there is no merit in having a sharp eye for criticizing people. This isn’t how God sees us.
God might be heard to say or think, “I see all that gunk in my son or daughter and I forgive it. What I’m really looking at is someone with creative power and beauty of character that hasn’t fully come to life just yet. How can I help this one find those parts within them that will allow this beauty, truth and love to flow more freely?” God is infinitely creative in His unrelenting desire to empower us, his sons and daughters to live as the gods we are.
The big misconception that we have also taken on is that it is our duty, maybe even our right to offer advice to people in our lives thinking we are helping them along. Believe it or not, in most cases we aren’t. And I want each one listening to open to this teaching even if you have hundreds of examples of incidences when you believe you did help people with your wisdom. I don’t want to refute that likely people came away from interactions and felt inspired or unburdened.
But we are now looking at this whole dynamic from a much deeper perspective. And that is from the perspective of love, not the objective to fix someone or help them overcome their problems. Love means giving what the other needs in the moment and not what we think they need and definitely not what we want them to have because of how it affects us.
Love is much more spacious than that. In the early phases of our transformation, most who have begun to walk a spiritual path have barely a clue as to all the patterns and tendencies that are alive in them which prevent them from seeing clearly. In that mix is often many ideas about how to love and help people. Let’s start off by dropping the word ‘help’ and replace it with the word ‘serve’. When you are with another person, begin to think, “how can I serve this person best?’
The action of serving them has to do with bringing them something they need. If any of you have ever served in bars or restaurants, you’ll recall that you, as a server are to have very little input. You move into a role of being totally available to hear what it is needed, make some suggestions politely and then be checking in throughout their stay or meal to get them more of what they need.
As a food server, you would never come out and tell people what they need to eat or drink unless they asked you. Energetically, it would feel off. But the good servers facilitate very enjoyable experience by humbly submitting to meet the needs of the guest as best they can, promptly and with an open heart. As a servant of the Most High, there are slight variations but the essence of the attitude is not that far off. For example, if the host seats a loud obnoxious couple in your section, you don’t have the choice to not serve them. You just take it on and do your best to provide them what they want despite how it might irritate you.
How would that work on the spiritual side? If our prayer is to evolve, at some point, we will have to face our ability to love others. And as such, God will bring people into our lives that challenge our good will. In God’s Mind, there is no one He would bring you that you can’t love. The question is simply how to do it and how much effort are you willing to put in? The fact that someone ‘pisses you off’ is almost of no consequence. That just means you have some wounds and concepts that haven’t been fully healed. Getting angry because of someone else’s actions we could say is… normal and common. As spiritual students, we take those experiences as opportunities to explore what is being chafed inside us.
The big factor is if you will keep your heart open to the other person despite their behavior that tempts you to close it. This is a real important point. Imagine a person who has hurt you the most in your life. Think of their lack of awareness and perhaps their lack of care around how they have caused you so much grief. As all that emotion gets fired up, can you tune into your heart and do you still maintain an openness to them, an understanding towards their ignorance, a compassion for how wounded and lost they are? Generally, if we are honest, we would say no, we can’t have both the emotions and the open heart. Well, I say, right now you can’t but you will.
So let’s talk about some practical ways to begin adopting this switch. First of all, recognize that the desire to want to help others by counseling them comes from a Godly place in you. Our soul is programmed to want to relieve the suffering of others. But move into a humble mindset and accept the fact that, while you could probably say some things that might help, your goal is to serve them which will always be a higher ideal.
Serving someone means finding the higher love in you, that which originates from God and getting instruction on what best to do. This is a process that takes some time to learn, needs to be practiced diligently and can be eventually mastered. It means comforting those who are grieving and not trying to move them through their grief, for example. It might mean calling someone out if their attitude is based in deception and they can’t see it, but this is never to be done from a place of anger. If we are triggered by something they are doing, we are not in a balanced place to do very much.
Keep this in mind… what you do should empower them because love builds up. Helping someone often does nothing to build them up and in fact can carry a subtle energy that people aren’t capable of managing their own life. When you have this attitude, even subtly, you are acting as their parent and I don’t believe God asked you to take that role on. In the early phases of a real spiritual path, the sure fire approach is to listen and validate their feelings. Ask gentle probing questions that allow the person space to hear their own voice and discover what is going on for them.
As I said earlier, we aren’t signing up to let people talk your ear off. The distinction is how real is the sharing and what is the need. You will be able to tune into the energy and notice if someone is pulling from you. A little of that is normal because not everyone knows when they are doing it. But when you begin to feel like you are a captive audience, that’s your cue to say something. But say something as a way to try to make it more real. You might need to develop a few ‘stock lines’ for times when you feel at a loss. For example… “It sounds like you really felt __________ when that happened. I’d be real curious to know what ___________ was like for you.”
You will eventually be able to hone in on what aspect of their sharing should be expanded. Your skill is more about guiding the conversation so the person can make their own conclusions. It is very empowering for the other person to process their thoughts, feelings and issues with another present who is conscious and caring. That energy of receptivity and love actually pulls the nuggets from them that they need to find the help or guidance. You’re presence, especially if you are connected in the Spirit will create an atmosphere for God to do the work through you. Don’t try to move things along! Wait for the impetus to come from within you as far as when it is your time to offer input.
Be alert to when you want to make the person feel better. Of course we want them to feel better but many of us are excellent people pleasers and that does very little as far as empowering the other. While people might enjoy the short term emotional ‘rush’ of your people pleasing, they won’t develop that deep trust in you as someone objective, sincere, patient and loving. Why is that? Because the people pleasing is about you and not about them. On one level, it’s a low risk approach with obvious returns. The person feels you are communing with them. But from the consciousness perspective it’s a bit lazy and might even be selfish.
It can be lazy and/or selfish because we don’t give more of ourselves to make the effort to tune into the deeper part of us and listen for what is needed. We speak without proper discretion and consideration. We just rely on our thinking and what seems most obvious from the outer being’s perspective. Doing it God’s way takes effort, first in preparing our being so we can even hear from within. And second, in the moment to listen for the subtle direction we get inside.
On the other end of things is the ‘just keeping it real’ perspective which is often a disguised justification to be blunt, mean and inconsiderate. This is where we feel we need to lay it out clearly so the person really gets what’s going on. In truth, sometimes God does direct such an action but God wouldn’t authorize such a tone unless there was trust already built up and the person had given consent to truly be taught.
Generally this attitude comes from an impatient, self-righteous part of us that is removed from our love. It takes a pretty thorough transformation on the part of a teacher to be able to give straight intense feedback and still be loving. I highly suggest you wait until such an authority is given you before you decide you are ready to do that.
The best thing you can do if your soul wants to be a servant to others is to submit to being taught and guided by someone you trust. Dive into the soup and experience first hand what it means to open yourself to guidance through a conscious person. This will be your best preparation as you will be humbled by the process, you will learn how to trust another, you will systematically be hooked up with your own GodSelf and thus have all the compassion in the world for another when it comes time for you to teach. Kind of like you walk the walk first, feel what it’s like and then later, really talk the talk.
Teacher: Meditation Teacher Andrew Shykofsky