People lie and manipulate all the time. The more neutral and non-judgmental you become about what used to irritate you, the more you see it calmly without seeing red! Here’s one secret as to why it bothers us and what to do.
I did it myself the other day. I booked an appointment to donate blood. When the time came, I didn’t show. As I’ve done this a few times before, I didn’t feel guilty. Still, by not showing, I made a liar of myself. I rationalize it this way. I regularly drop in to donate and they are closed. Last time I was there, they shortened their hours. One employee complained bitterly about it, saying it cut their donations. I had the sense it also cut her work hours. Part of me has the biased view that management is getting what they deserve. Therefore it’s their own fault. I know. I’m being condescending…it’s part of my defense.
A young woman was serving me at IKEA the other day. We are buying new kitchen cabinets. She radiated impatience by her body language and by repeatedly asking, “Is that everything?” Finally, I decided to be authentic. “Are you on commission or do you have a deadline you have to meet? I’m sensing a great sense of urgency from you.”
She replied very evenly, “Not at all. I’m in no hurry.” Her colleague was standing right beside her. Moments later, that same colleague asked, “Have you seen Christine?” Someone replied, “She went on her break.” They needed to find her and start making phone calls. She was nowhere to be found. Hmmm. Later, I found two major inputting errors in my order requiring me to make 2 return trips at two hours each. Arghhh.
My first challenge is to get neutral about her behaviour. Perhaps she’s a smoker and needed a hit. Perhaps she’s having a fight with her boyfriend and needed to make a phone call. I know that I’ve been in her shoes so I can find compassion in that way.
What’s harder is to find compassion for myself. I correctly sensed something was wrong. I believe these are promptings of the Spirit. What I didn’t do was connect the dots on what I needed to do. I needed to check over the order. When her colleague took over the order, I saw her review the order and was satisfied. I get annoyed with myself in these moments.
Isn’t that what really happens? Someone lies, deceives or manipulates us. Whether we sense it or not, confront it or not, we don’t do the right thing for our own needs. Then we blame the other guy. To not do so would mean we have to blame ourselves.
One of the benefits of committing to inner peace as a daily goal is that you become willing to own your own role in the setbacks and disappointments of life. I’ve met people whose spouses committed adultery secretly for long periods of time. Only after the fact did they notice the lies and the clues staring them in the face. The heartbreak and bitterness bite hard.
We set ourselves free from this when we become willing to have conflict, right in the moment. To do this, we have to admit our own role. We WANT to believe the lie. I wanted to think the IKEA person made no errors. I didn’t feel like going over three pages of itemized parts nor was I familiar with what to look for. I made my blood donation appointment knowing I would be at risk of getting derailed. Then I didn’t call and cancel the appointment as I could have.
We deal with lying and manipulating best when we see the ways in which we do it ourselves. Then we have the dual pay-off of recognizing the danger right in the moment plus confronting it calming and assertively. When we do, we feel confident in ourselves and respectful of others. After all, they’re only doing what we ourselves have done many times.
Paul wrote, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” (Romans 2:1) Yes, I am guilty and humbled once again. Now I need to do the right thing…and donate blood!