Do you have a conflict with someone in your life? Unfinished business? Unsaid words? Unresolved feelings? Are you anticipating more conflicts in the future? Perhaps it is a family member; mother, father, son, daughter, spouse or sibling. Or a friend. Maybe it’s someone with whom you are in an intimate relationship. Or a co-worker.
It could be that this person has an annoying habit that bothers you. Or maybe they make you feel bad about yourself by treating you in a negative way. Consider the someone you tend to get in conflict with. Take a moment to visualize this person who upsets you. And now imagine that they are doing that thing (whatever that is) that annoys you, upsets you or causes you pain.
As you pretend and experience this person and event in your mind’s eye, pay attention to what is happening in your body. Remember the mind doesn’t know the difference between what you imagine and what you perceive to be reality. Make note of whatever feelings arise in your body. You may feel a tightening in your throat as you feel you are unable to speak your truth and voice your opinions. You may notice an uncomfortable feeling in your belly as you feel unworthy or doubtful. That feeling may increase if you notice anger building. Pay attention to any tightness or discomfort in your chest if you’re feeling heartache from being hurt. Let your emotions be felt. Give them the attention they deserve and observe them as mindfully as you can.
You may deserve to feel negative emotions like anger, sadness or even fear. Remind yourself that you also deserve to feel positive emotions like self-compassion, empathy or even joy. You have the power to make that choice about what emotions you feed. And what emotions are feeding you.
Now, I’d like you to continue to use the power of your imagination to help you to make that choice. You’ve probably heard of that mind trick of imagining your opponent or audience to be naked – a way of evening the field – of making them more vulnerable and less threatening. Let’s take that idea in a different direction. As you imagine the person/event that stirs up conflict, imagine that you can see them at three different ages. Visualize them as they are right now. Then, imagine the person as a baby, not able to walk or talk. Visualize them as a cute, babbling baby, barely able to sit up. And now, allow yourself to imagine the person as an extremely old, frail and weak individual. Visualize them as being at the very end of life, perhaps in their 90s.
With these three images in mind, begin to remember that annoying thing that they do. Really imagine it and allow yourself to feel whatever comes up. You may notice your perception of the individual has changed. Perhaps there is also a change in your perception of the annoying thing that they do. Perhaps it’s not nearly as annoying. Is it?
This little exercise allows you to look at people in a more loving and compassionate way. When you see someone as small or frail or powerless, it triggers your heart. You are able to see yourself in another. The term “Namaste” means “The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you” – a knowing that we are all made from the same One Divine Consciousness. It helps you to see the other person as spirit having a physical experience. During that life experience, the body we reside in changes. It begins with the helplessness of an infant and ends with the helplessness of old age. During that time in between, each one of us is trying to figure out how to be in the world. And sometimes we make mistakes. We do annoying things. We upset the people we love. When it seems hard to make a choice about how you feel about someone or something, use the power of your imagination to change your perception. We’re all in this together. Make the choice to love one another.