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  • Writer's pictureAlex Planidin

Conflict with a loved one? Time to change your face

“Leave the mirror and change your face”

I love reading and listening to Neville Goddard.

Here's the full paragraph from Your Faith is Your Fortune:

"Stop trying to change the world since it is only the mirror. Man's attempt to change the world by force is as fruitless as breaking a mirror in the hope of changing his face. Leave the mirror and change your face. Leave the world alone and change your conceptions of yourself. The reflection then will be satisfactory."

On a recent call, my client expressed frustration at a family member's behaviour.

"Why would he say these things when it's so hurtful and negative?" she said.

On one level, it makes absolute sense. There is an expectation of a certain level of affection from our family.

For example, my idea of family might be unconditional love and support, so if I do not consider this to be shown, I feel let down. My expectations are not met.

I'm imposing my view of the world on the other and demanding they fit into it.

Maybe, in my view, they're the ones doing this to me! And I'm sure as hell not going to make an effort if they don't!!

And so we remain at loggerheads, either avoiding the subject or avoiding each other altogether.

Not a great recipe for change!

Leave the mirror and change your face

If I want to change a relationship, I'm going to get much better results if I focus on what I can do.

I leave the world (i.e. the other person) alone, and change my conceptions of myself, or where I'm coming from. (We could also say how I'm showing up or who I'm "being".)

If I'm coming from an attitude of being right about my point of view, while the other person is wrong, it's unlikely we'll make much progress.

So am I willing to look at what I believe I'm so right about?

Don't I deserve their respect, unconditional love and admiration? Just because I'm me? Just because we're family? Surely that's a basic requirement??

Well, what might they believe they are right about? Could they be hurting as well?

When I won't accept you as you are, and you won't accept me as I am, we are more concerned about being right than about our relationship. We're more focused on our differences than what we share.

And if we zoom out a little, it's pretty easy to see how ridiculous this is. We're both human beings, here on the same planet at exactly the same time. We're probably 99.9% the same and 0.1% different, if that. Yet we choose to focus on that 0.1%.

And if we're honest, tomorrow, or next week, or next year, we probably won't even be focusing on it any longer.

Only a difference of opinion separates us. A thought in our little heads that we amplify with our attention and become identified with. We become one with this thought, or belief. And therefore, we believe that letting go of it would somehow diminish us as a father, son, wife, employee etc. My idea of myself will be reduced.

From this perspective, I have to be right in order to keep up this picture of myself. So I can look out and say "The world is pretty shitty and it's making me miserable - but at least I'm right!"

It's a pretty exhausting way to live.

What if we just set aside our own "suffering" for a second and saw the other person as hurting, confused, ashamed, disappointed because the idea they have of the world is not matching reality? Their idea of you who you should be is not in line with who you are, as they see it.

If we can do this, this is a step towards forgiveness, and it's one of the most powerful steps we can take.

Can I accept the other person completely as they are, with all their snide comments and dismissive looks?

Can I forgive them?

Whatever is happening inside them is painful, and these are just the behaviours that manifest. If they have unkind thoughts towards me, they're the ones suffering. Unkind thoughts towards anyone or anything are like poison.

Just sense how your body responds to them. And if we give them the fuel of our attention, they'll completely take over and pretty soon we don't even notice what we've become. In some cases, we've been like that for most of our lives.

We are all a part of this species we call humanity. Anyone else's suffering is our collective suffering. We can't change the world by force, but we can begin by questioning what we think we're so right about. It's OK to be wrong, everybody's wrong about something. Maybe I'm wrong about all of this.

But when we can accept ourselves as we are, accept others exactly as they are, before long maybe we'll see that our own pain has subsided and their aggressiveness has faded.

And then, by changing my face to one of acceptance, maybe a true loving relationship can start to grow.

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