BECOMING WHAT WE HATE...
I can't remember exactly when I first heard the phrase, "We become what we hate..." I think it was in a college philosophy class. It hit me pretty hard at the time. Still does. Now more than ever. Maybe it's because there are so many "hateful" things going on "out there" - and even "in here..." So, not surprisingly, our focus is on how truly awful "it" is. And...it is. But to actually become the very thing we abhor is an appalling thought - whether you're an individual, a family, a company, a government or even a country. And yet, it happens - little by little - to even the best intentioned of us.
An executive with whom I worked was criticized for his supercilious attitude towards his colleagues and as a result was passed over for a number of promotions. When I told him how he was perceived and the impact he had on others, he was shocked. "I totally hate arrogant people," he said. "I can't believe I come across that way!" "Well, somehow," I suggested, you've focused so much on the qualities you hate that you unconsciously not only accepted them but actually adopted them. Funny how that happens to us..." I went on to tell him he wasn't alone, Most of us fall into the "I am what I hate" trap at one time or another if we're not careful, and that the good news was that he could, (with a lot of effort), dump that behavior and replace it with the kinds of qualities he admired. We talked a lot about what those qualities were. He named "respect" and "assuming the best" from people, among other things. Seven months later, he was promoted. Interestingly, more and more people actually wanted to work for him - rather than against him...
A young woman I coached recently told me she "hated" the way people in her company surreptitiously dumped on each other while pretending to embrace a "collaborative, team-playing culture" and she found she'd acquired an irresistible impulse to "dump back." Luckily, although it was really hard, she formulated a plan to catch herself when that impulse crept up on her and to substitute positive reinforcement for back-stabbing. She became much happier at work - and thanks to how contagious "attitudes" (both negative and positive), can be - so did her colleagues. And what about our families? How much do we focus our own - and our children's - attention on the despicable things that happen in the world? And sadly, those "bad things" almost become the norm... "the way it is." So even if we don't "become" what we hate; we "settle" for it - which is pretty much the same thing.
Here's the thing: We seem to be thinking more about what we hate than what we love. We've become more "in touch" with the bad stuff, more "attuned" to it - than the good stuff. So it's not surprising that we get it all over us. It's kind of like driving into the headlights, if you know what I mean.
So what do we do? Well, there's only so much room in our hearts and minds, right? The more hate we focus on, the less love we can hold. In the end, we are what we think about. Nothing more. Or less. So what do you love? What do you love about people, what do you love about each other? About yourself? About...life? What are some wonderful examples of man's boundless, indestructible-even-in-the-worst-of-times humanity - rather than inhumanity - to man? Embrace them. Share them. Glorify them.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we became what we love...? I mean, how hard could it be?
Not all that hard, according to John Lennon...
The Beatles - All You Need is Love on Vimeo
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