Sometimes you never know who it is that has a disabling mental “illness,” not even when they are right in front of you. Not every person who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, for instance, looks like it or pushes a shopping cart laden with household “extranea” down the street, homeless, filthy, and laughing wildly to themselves…Not that this is so terrible either, frankly. We should all not be so quick to judge. And no, we should not judge even this notion of the homeless-shopping-cart-person as “bad” or “wrong” — not until we know the person and understand what he or she wants from life and his or her history. I am not saying that anyone should freeze to death from exposure, or suffer from hunger or from any unwanted basic deprivation, only that no one understands the life conditions of another until you talk with them and come to know that person…
Too many people make assumptions that are wrong and/or erroneous based only on what they want and are comfortable with, not on what the other person needs and wants. Believe me, I know, having been there way more often than I wish and experienced it from that “other side.” Far too many times have people claimed to be “helping me” and have only hurt me! It is not that I think they were badly intentioned, so much as that they were only thinking about how they felt or would feel. They were not being truly empathic, not giving an inch or a nanosecond to trying to think about how I, personally, did feel nor for that matter asking me what I might want or need at that moment.
I want to remind people to remember that “ASSUME makes an ASS out of U and Me..” so instead of assuming anything about another person, especially someone who has an apparent mental “illness” or someone who at any rate seems somehow “different” from the people who are familiar to you, ask them questions…Find out what they want and what makes them comfortable!
As Toltec spiritual advisor Don Miguel Ruiz tells us in THE FOUR AGREEMENTS, which is the best book of its sort I have ever read, you can and should ask any question you want to, so long as you are honestly prepared to accept the answer.
By the way, the Second Agreement, in his book, an Agreement I find so fundamentally important, is Do Not Take Anything Personally. By taking things personally — that way danger and disappointment and all distress lies. Truly this is so. People are all in their own little bubbles, taking their own lives personally and frankly, think about that! We are only on the periphery of everyone else’s thinking and living, and in a very real way they cannot ever know us as we know ourselves, they can only know us through the lens of their own lives, their own bubbles. This revelation can be freeing if you let it…
That is why we should not take anything personally — because other people are too busy doing the same thing and not seeing us as we are, but only as adjuncts to their lives and thinking. If we truly knew and accepted this, we would be free from a great deal of angst and upset. But of course this is a very difficult thing to do…to free ourselves of the notion that we are as important in others lives as we are in our own. No, they are the important actors on their own stage, we are not. We really need to get over thinking that we are prima donnas in everyone’s drama as well as our own…Is not our own life enough? I should think so. Who would want to star in more than one drama at a time?
6 thoughts on “Toltec Wisdom (and a Little of My Own!)”
Eek, I meant to say your understanding words and caring tears…
Dear Pam, I can’t tell you how much your understanding words and caring words mean to me. Thank you so much..
I would write more, but I am typing with one finger on the screen of my Kindle Fire HD6. My old laptop is on its last legs. Hubby bought me a new laptop but I have yet to open the box…. my head is not yet ready to learn Windows 8.
Dearest Alaina, I had a feeling that was why I had not heard from you but never fear, I am with you and please know that I would always listen to anything you needed to say…Poor, poor Lady, I am so, so sorry for your loss, Alaina. I am crying as I write this…I wish I could offer you more than my tears. Pam
This is beautiful and brilliant. Wow I am blown away.
I haven’t logged into my email in weeks… losing our Lady dog plunged me into a dark depression. I am so sorry for not keeping our conversation going. I am starting to come back up. Hopefully I will be able to handle email soon. Love to you, dear Pam, and dear Marie, too.
YES YES YES! good for you, Marie. Also, I hope you received my email this weekend about how I took your advice and wisdom 101 and feel better for it, felt better immediately, In fact, since then, I have talked/written to that person in question and things are MUCH better, because “we” are no more. and I am much the better off for it, Thank you for the questions you asked that sparked my thinking honestly. Love, Pam
Your post hits home especially with an experience I had this weekend with a sibling! She is going through some ‘issues’ and I offered ideas on a better way out! I am glad I wasn’t quick to judge like another ‘all perfect’ one did, but I was still sad when she didn’t take any of my advice! But later I calmed down and talked with 2 close friends, and they helped realize it was her drama! I had shown her love, I had offered support and ideas, maybe she’ll eventually act or even get better, but in her time! I think treating even the ‘apparent’ mentally ill this way, could resonate with them better than outright intimidation, meds and restraints?