Working with others of like-mind
Working with others gives you more opportunity to see your true self. Let’s assume you want to see things about yourself that are impediments to being unselfishly loving (so you can change yourself).
Since the selfish side of you doesn’t want to be “exposed” in the light of truth, it “tricks” you into avoiding seeing your own problems. But others can often see the problems/blocks you have, that you can’t (or try not to) see. So you can ask them to bring things up to you that they see about you, and give you feedback/criticism. That gives you far more opportunity to change.
Working with others whom you’ve asked to help you change (and who have asked you to help them change), is like standing in a room full of mirrors naked (in the mental/emotional/spiritual sense). Of course, when other people are not purely unselfishly loving, they are going to be “reflecting” you back to yourself inaccurately to varying degrees, because their own selfishly based problems “distort” their perception. It can also taint their motives. This is where it gets tricky. A reflection of you and your behavior is still there, but you have to discern the true reflection from the “distortion”. Also, your selfish side is going to want to ignore the true reflection in what they are bringing up to you. And if you aren’t careful, you can end up ignoring true constructive criticism, by “rationalizing” that it is distorted information coming from someone’s own bias or agenda.
Shared Ideals & Goals
Working closely with others who share the same ideals and goals as you, provides far greater opportunity for developing your unselfish love. If you really want to make faster, more profound progress, doing it with the help of others is much better than doing it alone. That also applies to accomplishing things as a group.
For example, if you have a car with a wheel stuck in a ditch, 7 people trying to lift it out of the ditch separately, one at at time, won’t get anywhere. But 7 people focusing their energy on the same thing, at the same time (like all 7 lifting one end of the car at the same time), can lift the car’s wheel right out of the ditch (or they can push the car out together). It works the same way with other goals.
If you get excited about what the Golden Rule can mean in your life, and to others, you’ll naturally want others to discover the beauty of the Golden Rule too, especially your loved ones. You can use the Golden Rule interpersonal development methods outlined in this book with anyone who shares your goals and ideals. But because it requires cooperation, whomever you hope to work with needs to feel the same way you do about spirituality. For instance, if you believe that living by the Golden Rule is a priority, and they don’t, then they won’t really want to change. Even if someone agrees to “go along” with you, if they don’t really have the heart-felt commitment, it won’t work out. In that case, all you can do is work on yourself by yourself, or find others of like-mind to work within Golden Rule study groups.
If your friends and family don’t feel the same way as you, keep in mind that a good example is far more effective than “preaching” to them. Also remember… YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE YOU. And if you do change and become more unselfishly loving, and consistently apply that in your life, you will be setting an example that will affect those around you, and give them a positive opportunity to change. That’s the best anyone can do. And some people may accept that and appreciate it, and others may reject it. It just depends on what kind of person they are inside.
Roses or Thorns
Like any challenge, it can sometimes get difficult. Depending on “where you’re at” within yourself, you can experience such interaction as wonderful, or horrible. The reason for this is simple. The “spiritual side” of people really likes the support, nurturing and empowerment of such interactions with others. But the “selfish side” hates the giving, the constructive criticism (because it “exposes” its tricks and games), and the loss of its control over you. This is where things like absolute commitment become invaluable. But your attitude is perhaps even more important, because that affects what kind of thoughts get generated. Attitude affects everything, including the way you approach your tasks and growth, and what you accomplish. I have a friend who takes dips in frozen ponds in the middle of winter. He loves it! But he only loves it because he has that attitude towards it. To someone else, that would be a hellish experience. And if they were told they had to do it, or should do it, but had a negative attitude towards it, it would be a nightmare. Change the attitude, and you change your experience, and thus your life.
So when dealing with other people, having a humble attitude towards being criticized, and a tolerant attitude towards them (rather than being prideful, inflexible, or arrogant), makes a huge difference. As does caring more about the trials and needs of others, rather than focusing on your own. In fact, when you are thinking about others, or caring for the needs of others, your mind isn’t on yourself. You only experience your own misery, issues and problems when you are thinking about yourself. In fact, recent studies show that when there is a disaster of some kind, the disaster victims who focus on helping others, suffer far less traumatic psychological damage.
“Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”- John Watson
excerpt from: The Golden Rule Handbook