Heard of the “evil eye”?
Most of the time folks think the evil eye has something to do with cursing others and wishing them ill. But the truth of “the evil eye” (including self-evil-eyeing) goes much deeper.
Any time you stick fixed labels on another person, whether “nice” or bad, in your mind, you place them into a box. The labels that we give to one and other, and ourselves become the basis for our expectations and the self-fulfilling prophecies we draw out from others (literally forcing them to play within).
It’s even worse when we do it to ourselves.
If you don’t talk people up; you talk them down (you included.)
Our mental boxes and labels are little coffins that constrain what we think and how we feel about ourselves and others.
Just to be clear – we are not talking about people who have abused us or threaten us.
We are talking about the many social and personal contacts where we have come to hold someone in a fixed perspective.
Take the labels off the boxes, turn them around and re-label with what they really are: our feelings about what we perceive to be other people’s behavior.
We NEVER see the whole picture. We NEVER know what is truly in other people’s hearts, and we mostly ignore or paper over what is in ours.
Take the fixed characteristics and turn them into “I say/think/feel…” statements about what you have heard or seen and made a judgement about:
“Tom is such a greedy jerk”
“When I listen to Tom talk about his clients and how he runs up their bills; I feel angry. I wouldn’t want to be treated that way. I say that is an awful thing to do. I don’t want to listen to it ever again.”
Notice your feelings in the statement and about what you think you know about the other person. Concentrate on what you specifically react to with this person.
Again, keep it to “When they X; I feel/think/do Y”
“When Tom talks about his business; I often want to shout. But I don’t. I just sit there and bottle it up.”
Check whether your assumptions are correct.
Most of what we think we know is actually our reaction to what we think is happening rather than what is really going on. Think about the context of what you think you know – create space for doubt about your judgements.
“I know Tom wants to be seen to be successful, but if he thinks this is how you let people know how you are… he’s just wrong.”
“I know what it is… I hate people bragging and I also hate injustice and when it sounds like he’s ripping people off to make himself richer, I get really angry. I wonder if he knows how he comes across…?”
Rethink your statement and replace judgements with the word “seems”
“I’ve met Tom socially a few times and he seems to be trying to put up a big act, and I find it unpleasant.”
Doubt and consideration, changing from “they are…” to “it seems”
Try it out as an exercise on paper.
Take someone you have difficulties with and have labeled. Get it back to “When they X… I feel and it seems”. Write it out.
Now do this with a characteristic that you believe a loved one or family member (or both) has.
Write it out.
Now do this with a label you have stuck on to yourself.
Get skillful first with taking the coffin labels off of “negative” traits you have stuck on other people and yourself.
Then try opening out the seemingly positive labels (positive labels can be just as limiting) – e.g “He’s my rock.” And then your rock goes through a bad period and has troubles himself and is no longer “YOUR rock”.
Although the sentiments are often wonderful, give those you care about an even bigger and better possibility by taking the labels off.