“Clean up your side of the street.” – AA
“You hypocrite! First take the plank out of your own eye so that you can see clearly, and then you can help remove the spec in your brother’s eye” – Jesus
It’s funny how clearly I can see other people’s problems while avoiding my own. This is universal. In the grand landscape of life, the most difficult thing to see is yourself. I know now when I am judging another person, that I am most likely avoiding something in myself that needs immediate attention. I could waste hours stewing over another persons “lack thereof” or I can quickly turn the tables on myself and look at where I need to do some major inside renovations. When I start cleaning up my side of the street instead of trying to give that other person a broom and a scolding, I realize that my side of the street is pretty filthy. I can sweep all day long and never quite finish. It also relieves me from the burden of carrying around and pointing out that other person’s “issues.”
Self-righteousness comes in forms of “I would never do that,” or “that’s not how I would ever do that,” or “if that was me I would… (fill in the blank).” We have a tendency to look down on other people’s choices, often forgetting where we came from. It’s nearly gut-wrenching hysterical that I (the former self-destructive alcoholic) can be so judgmental of anyone else, but I catch myself being self-righteous more than I want to admit. It’s so ignorant of me, but at least (most of the time) I am aware of it. I know when I’m experiencing myself get angry, annoyed, frustrated or controlling over another person’s way of being, that I need to grab a broom and dustpan immediately. As painful as it may be, it’s a really good time to do some internal plank pulling. It’s embarrassing how big my plank truly is – but a good reminder of humility.
People don’t change when you point out their shit anyway. It just offends them and usually hurts them. Most people are not in recovery, so they aren’t working on themselves or trying to change their behaviors in order to remain sober. Most people (I’ve noticed) don’t want to know the truth, but it is difficult when you begin working on yourself to see other people’s behaviors so clearly. It’s frustrating to watch a person make mistakes that you’ve made in the past, but important to recall what it was like to be so blind and limited in your hindsight. It’s like Holden in the book ‘The Catcher and the Rye’ – he just wants to catch the children and save them from corruption. When we are working on ourselves, we have this inner need to want to change others, but this is not our job. We need to continue working on ourselves and reminding ourselves that we still need a lot of work. Everyone is on their own path and unless they ask for your guidance, it’s important to give them the space, compassion and your acceptance while they are on their journey.
When I begin cleaning up my side of the street (removing the plank from my eye), the focus is quickly taken from the other person – to me. It’s kind of a relief actually. I honestly don’t have the time or energy to worry about others. I have enough on my plate as it is, and also it causes me to get out of alignment with my center when I am focused on another person’s issues. When I am out of alignment it seems like everything goes wrong for me. Remaining centered is important to me because it brings me to my wholeness. Although I have things to work on, I can work on myself while remaining balanced. If I am worried about other people and what they are doing, I immediately feel my balance waiver.
Being blind to our own self is the human condition. Jesus could have very well used an analogy of having a plank in your heart, or your foot, but he spoke of the eye because as human beings, we are very blind – especially to ourselves. It is easy to see another person’s problems, but to see our own is like seeing the world behind us when we are walking forward. It takes a lot of effort and self-discipline to see ourselves, but when we do stop to notice ourselves – all that self-righteousness falls to the ground. Handling that ole plank is a good place to be. It’s a great place to remain. It keeps me from feeling frustrated with other people. It helps me remain balanced. It teaches me to lighten up and to relax. It is never another person that is frustrating me. It is ALWAYS me who is experiencing frustration because I forget to see myself. I forget all the time. I constantly need a reminder, which is why I wrote this today. It’s more for myself than for anyone else!
P.S. To my loyal readers, I wrote a children’s adventure novel about the human condition, and so far, the adults love it just as much as the kids. It just underwent a major facelift, both inside and out. Here is the link for downloading, or you can get it in paperback: http://www.amazon.com/MAJESTIC-WONDERBREAD-Earthbound-Seeking-Treasure-ebook/dp/B00DGZPXPI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1411997419&sr=8-2&keywords=majestic+wonderbread