First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia ~ Welcome home!

Most of us have probably come across the universal wisdom that the people who irritate us the most are expressing qualities that we ourselves have. This is why family members or close friends can be so annoying for so many of us, because we see ourselves in them, and vice versa. Of course this isn’t always true, but when it is, it’s a real opportunity for growth if we can acknowledge it, because it’s infinitely easier to change ourselves than it is to try to change someone else. Moreover, it’s not a good idea to try. For example, if we have a coworker who engages in some kind of negative behavior, such as complaining or trying to control every situation, we might try honestly assessing ourselves to see if we carry some of those traits.

However, we do behave differently in different environments, so we may have to look to other situations in our lives to see it. Perhaps we don’t complain at work, and maybe we aren’t controlling in the office, but maybe we do it with our friends, or at home with family.

What we see in others can always help us to understand ourselves more deeply.

Even if we look and find that we are not engaging in the same behavior that we see as negative in others, we can still learn from what we are seeing in this person. Because human nature is universal, and we share many of the same tendencies.

Having the ability to see something in another person, and automatically bring this observation back to ourselves, is like having a built-in system of checks and balances that enables us to be continually engaged in self-exploration and behavior change. When we see behavior we don’t like, we can make a concerted effort to weed it out of ourselves, and when we see behavior we do like, we can let it inspire us to engage in imitation. Through the process of reading our environment we allow it to influence and bring out the best in ourselves. When we see ourselves in other people it can be a great opportunity for growth if we are willing to do the work.


Heart to Heart.
Rev. Addae

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