Imagine you are locked in a room with another person. You both have been there for as long as you can remember, and there is no way out of the room. Take a moment to think about this situation, and how you might feel.
This is similar to the situation we find ourselves in every day. Humans are conscious beings trapped in a body. We communicate with the outside through our senses, our ability to move, touch, walk, and speak. We can form relationships with other conscious beings, but these relationships are always transient and often incomplete. No matter how hard you try, you can never fully understand another person. A humans life is too long and too complex to be fully understandable. Our partners and friends of many years still manage to surprise us with the decisions they make. Additionally, every relationship we have with other people will inevitably come to an end, at some point. We cannot bring people with us in death, and relationships often end much earlier than we would like.
The only relationship we have in our life that isn’t transient is our relationship with ourselves. The other person who is always in the room. Yet in spite of this truth, the relationship we have with ourselves is almost always our most neglected. When was the last time you sat mindfully with yourself? When did you last listen to your body? When was the last time you asked yourself how you are feeling?
If you were suddenly trapped in a room with someone else, the relationship you have with the other person would have a huge effect on your happiness. If you dislike the other person, you would be unhappy. You would start to notice the other persons flaws more and more, and thus begin to hate them even more. Pretty soon even their presence would annoy you. Their talking, their breathing, and their existence would grate your ears.
How do you handle this situation? It’s difficult because as humans we try to avoid and ignore conflict as much as possible. We either ignore conflict, “suck it up” or walk away from the interaction or even whole relationships. If we do deal with a conflict, we often deal with it in a destructive way. We do not attempt to understand the other person, but instead we degrade them, tell them their thoughts are wrong and worthless, and try to convince them that we are right.
None of these solutions to conflict work with your inner relationship, though. For one, you cannot walk away from yourself. There is no way to ignore the “other person in the room”, and ignoring them only makes them louder. Telling ourselves that our thoughts and feelings are worthless only brings us down. The more you tell someone they are stupid, the more likely they are to believe it and become it. By telling yourself that your feelings are stupid, you are making your feelings louder, more erratic and more stupid (not to mention how this affects your self confidence). The real tragedy is that most of the time our thoughts and feelings (as well as those of others) are not dumb, but instead misunderstood.
Maybe you have a nagging feeling of depression at your high-paying job. Your friends and family admire you, though, and tell you that you are successful and important. You tell yourself that the depression you are feeling is wrong, bad, and worthless. Instead of communicating with yourself you ignore yourself. In doing so, not only does that feeling become louder and more erratic, but you also begin to devalue yourself.
The more and more I’ve become aware of my relationship with myself, the more I’ve noticed conflict with myself in my every day life. It’s amazing how often I devalue my feelings and, thus, myself. Maybe my friends want to go out on a Friday night and I force myself to go even though I had a long week and just want to sleep. Maybe I push myself to keep talking to someone, even though my inner voice tells me they are not good for me.
What makes this situation more complicated is that sometimes you have go against what your inner voice tells you. Maybe going out with your friends IS good for you, even though you don’t want to. Or maybe you realize you have a lot in common with someone that your inner voice initially disliked.
In either situation, whether your inner voice is right or wrong, I think it is important to LISTEN to and UNDERSTAND yourself instead of telling the “other person in the room” that they are worthless. Try to understand yourself and why you are feeling a certain way. It takes longer, but you deserve the time. The more you connect with yourself, the more you realize that there was always actually only one person in the room this whole time. If you can accept and respect your subconscious thoughts and feelings, they become less of a discreet entity that you can judge and more a part of you.
Additionally, practicing compassion and understanding with yourself is a great way to build compassion and understanding with others. People are fundamentally different, and their thoughts, feelings, and actions are often motivated by a multitude of factors that we will never fully understand. But, just like in our own life, those factors are still present and should still be respected. By practicing this understanding and respect with yourself, you are priming yourself to practice with others.
This is something I’ve been trying to do lately, but it’s difficult. I have practiced dismissal of myself and people I dislike my whole life, and it is a hard habit to break. If you decide to try this, be understanding of yourself because you will not always succeed. But, I’ve found that simply trying is always worth it.
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2 thoughts on “Locked in a room…”
I love how you put our relationship with our selves as being stuck in the same room with them. Kinda adds a different perspective to it. I myself have been working hard in recent years to gain my own self-respect, to create someone that my ‘roommate’ will have a better time with. It’s a tough journey though. Anyway, thanks for this post!
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Thanks for reading, good luck on your journey!