Focusing within

[Bahasa Indonesia]
I was in a group discussion one day, when a participant was telling us her story–how she wanted to help a person that came to her one day but could not because she had had prior engagement. She kept thinking how the woman must have felt and whether she had made the “right” decision by ignoring the plead.

Another was telling us how he has forgiven the people who have hurt him. How we have to be patient. How we need to be forgiving and let go. To accept. To be humble.

I thought to myself, isn’t amazing how we often focus on improving ourselves by reviewing how we behave toward others or how others view us? Sometimes we do not realize that the so-called problem is actually between us and ourselves, not us with them, and certainly not them with themselves.

A book I recently read gave me a different (and interesting) perspective. It advises us (or rather, me) to start with ourselves. Rather than focusing on how we should behave, it invites us to pay attention to the process within.

It is time to be (more) honest to ourselves, about ourselves. How do we really feel? To understand ourselves. To accept that we still feel the anger, disgust, annoyance, happiness and love. All sorts. To be honest with ourselves.

We have spent too much time denying what we feel—especially when the feelings are negative. Too often we just sweep our feelings under the rug—merely shifting the conscious to subconscious, adding to the already stacked up emotional baggage that we have. Not really deal with it.

We start from acknowledging how we feel and pay attention to it. Then pay attention to how the feeling evolves.

The books goes further by saying “breathe in the negative feelings, breathe out the positive ones.” I think it is a brave move.

Only after that process of looking within, we can step up our efforts to reach out to other people. Only by understanding our feelings, we can begin to understand how others may feel. Only by accepting and loving ourselves, we can begin to accept and love other people.

Make sense to me. Don’t you think?

An extra note. Are we really humble when we explicitly claim we are humble? Are we really patient when we claim we are patient? Do we really accept when we say we accept? Or are we just kidding ourselves? Another noun crept up my mind as I wrote this: Arrogance. Who are we kidding, honestly.

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