An insightful comment in a reading from one of the little mediation books I read each day: “Preoccupation with self is not self-love.” Somehow, I thought it was. At least one time I did. I thought I had some sort of responsibility to fix myself up until I became perfect. I attended workshops and read self-help books. If coming to know myself and fix myself isn’t self-love, what is?
The reflection begins with a quote by David Frost: “Love is when each person is more concerned for the other than for one’s self.” Self-absorption, it is suggested, is forcing our personal selves into the center of every experience. I know how it feels to be talking about some experience and have another person take a piece of my story as a cue to share their experience, leaving my story dangling and unfinished. I want to say to this person, “It isn’t all about you, ya’ know.”
But I have to confess that I have done the same thing. Even if I hold my tongue, I may make another’s story all about me in my mind. Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa. The author suggests to instead “look…with compassion upon the needs and frustrations of those sharing our experiences. (This will )usher in solutions and will invite an exchange of gratitude which makes all expressions of love easier.”
I think the shift here is in seeing, not that the life experience being shared is “all about me”, but it is “all about us.” My story is worth presenting if I can use it as an offering to the other that will help them feel the “usness” of life. Deep listening, and when take a parcel of their story to share a piece of mine, I quickly return their story to them.
(Reflection on a reading from The Promise of a New Day by Hazelden)