By Maguerite Theophil
Oct 19, 2011,
When a particularly obnoxious person - according to you, that is -- shows up prominently in your life, it's time to find your submerged sense of humour and say: "Oh, this must be Teacher of Life Lesson 579 for me!" Or 700, or whatever.
Know that there are, and will be, many such teachers...
In many spiritual traditions, we are taught to see obstacles or trouble, specially in the form of people who bring in or represent them, as challenges for growing, for moving on.
When a person repeatedly upsets, harms or otherwise does something negative towards you, you might think "This will end," or "He will change", and focus on other things. But often you notice that this just does not happen. Let's say a particularly annoying arrogant person, X, is a frequent part of your life. You avoid having much to do with this person. After a while X moves away, or changes jobs. You are relieved; no more contact with this painful person. The problem is no longer there; it no longer triggers your hostility or pain.
But sooner or later, Y shows up. Just as arrogant, just as angry-making. The same things happen, upsetting emotions triggered - because nothing has been learned.
What X and Y are both oddly making very clear is that you have something here to work on; offering you an opportunity to know yourself better, and put into practice any specific approaches, skills and practice you need in order to grow and evolve.
Now it's also very important to discern what exactly this lesson you are supposed to learn is.
In this case, perhaps your particular lesson is to develop empathy, understand what makes X and Y behave this way. Or maybe it is something else altogether: to find the courage to be assertive, to speak up for your rights, to draw the line.
A good rule of thumb if you are confused is to go for what seems harder for you.
For an impatient person, speaking up for yourself is easy; but pausing before jumping in and confronting, or reflecting on what made the other person angry - that is far more difficult. While for a person with not enough courage, it appears easier to 'forgive and forget' or make excuses for the other's behaviour, than to say a firm 'No', or be brave enough to disagree, or speak up about one's distress.
Your 'teacher', in this way, pushes you to move out of your particular comfort zone, to change and grow more whole.
Your teacher also serves another function - to act as a kind of mirror of your own behaviours or approaches that might need to change. A good indicator is the negative labels you place on others. If you grumble about an 'unreasonable' person, or several of them, perhaps you are being unreasonable somewhere. If you meet someone you find is extremely 'thoughtless', stop and reflect: is there somebody you are being thoughtless towards too? If too many 'stubborn' people show up - you know what to check up on!
This is not comfortable. I am currently struggling with someone I see as a person who 'takes others for granted'. So I can decide to learn both kinds of lessons. I can choose to give it time, but not to let it slide; to discuss it with her politely, but firmly. And as I reflect, I can also realise and admit that to some extent in my life, I am doing the same thing to others.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi