Okay. Here goes. One of my goals for the New Year is Love Thy Enemy.
What??? Have I lost it? Befriend somebody who is mean and has harmed me in some way? Be kind to someone who irritates me to no end? And why is this New Year’s resolution important to me at this stage of the game? If somebody does me wrong isn’t it best to walk away and not give this person a second thought?
In the past, the walk-away strategy would have been enough to get me by; but not anymore. What I am finally realizing is how harmful the act of hating is – physically and psychologically. Feeling hateful and holding grudges -- even for a short period of time – take up a lot of precious energy. I am not proud of myself when I feel resentment toward another. I am not happy. Negative feelings toward others are destructive and counterproductive. What I also know is hatred is a universal problem. When does it end if it doesn’t start with me?
So the decision has been made; my behavior going forward is to find it in my heart to love instead of hate.
The goal of loving my enemy (I define enemy as people I really dislike) is going to be quite a challenge. Also, the word “love” may be extreme. As I begin this new way of thinking and behaving I will need a strategy to help carve the way.
And so I turn to a book I just read for more insights. If you haven’t read it already, you may want to pick up a copy of Simon Sinek’s book, “Start with Why.” This book’s simple and powerful message offers the foundation I need right now to tackle my goal of loving my enemy.
I begin with why I am doing this in the first place: I will be happier; I will have more energy; I may have a positive effect on the other person’s life (and making another person happier can make me happier); I may learn something from this person; I am a role model to friends and family members, especially grandchildren; and I can help make the world a better place.
After why, comes the how. Here are a few things I will consider doing when the situation arises:
- Stop in the moment and take a deep breath. This simple action will detach me from the situation and help prevent me from saying or doing anything I will regret. If more time is needed for me to calm myself down, I will slowly pour myself a tall glass of water.
- Accept the other person’s behavior or words at face value. Instead of fighting what has happened, I will accept reality without taking it personally. This will allow me to step back and see the situation objectively.
- Put myself in his or her shoes. Who is this person and what might be their perspective? Where have they been? What have they gone through?
- Keep in mind that this person’s words and/or actions define him or her, not me.
- Find something to love about this person. I will assume that I do not know my enemy well and I will try to find common ground that helps get us closer.
- Do something nice for him or her - even if it’s only the act of offering a genuine smile.
Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.