Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Have you had an out of body experience ... and didn't know it?

It seems to me that we must learn to have out of body experiences if we are to treat others the way we want to be treated. 
I'm not talking about the out of body experiences that people say they have when they go to sleep and their spirits leave their bodies to go traveling and the next morning the people find they can talk about their experiences and what they saw and heard. 
But it seems we must learn to get outside ourselves and I believe that expressing that in terms of getting outside of our bodies is a more concise way of describing the concept. 
For example, on rare occasions I have felt I was mistreated by another person and I have had a difficult time not being angry about it. 
Revenge? Yes, I suppose I might take revenge if I had the opportunity but the opportunity never presented itself. 
There was the person who got the promotion I should have had because they went around me. There was the supervisor who fired me without justification. And, so on and so on. 
I imagined seeing them standing curbside on a rainy day and managing to drive my car through a puddle. Those drenched clothes would show them!
Maybe pushing them off a place where they would fall, not to their death but just far enough to cause bodily injury. That would be sufficient revenge. 
But then I know I should forgive. Forget? I'm not sure even God expects that of us. 
So, I have arrived at the conclusion that I have to get outside my body from time to time if I am to see things from the other person's perspective. 
It is likely that I have contributed to the situations that made me angry. If I can see the world from the other person's perspective, maybe I can better let go of my anger. 
Now there is a limit to that line of thought. I do not believe that victims of abuse should remain in that relationship and I am sure I have made the right decision in walking away from situations that made me angry. 
We fight or flee from what we perceive to be danger, don't we? We can choose to fight but we must do so in a way that doesn't violate our values. It might be, too, that if we can get outside ourselves, to have that out of body experience, we might find the best thing to do is part company. 
When I was a kid, there was a boy named Jamie (not his real name) who lived down the street. 
Jamie and I became friends in kindergarten. 
Each summer I would ride my bike to his house and we would play for a while and then, invariably, we would end up fighting, wrestling on the ground and Jamie usually got hurt. 
Then I would go home and we would stay apart for a few weeks the rest of the summer. 
One summer we decided to make a "haunted house" in my parents' garage. We hung up flashing light bulbs that illuminated an old Casper the Friendly Ghost Halloween costume and some other "spooky" items. The neighborhood kids came over and we would shut them in the garage until they started yelling and then we would let them out. 
After a week or two of this it dawned on me that we had broken our curse. We had managed to get along without fighting. 
I have tried to remember that lesson. 
Too often open communication isn't the key because we tend to talk without listening unless and until we can get out of our bodies and see the world from the other person's point of view. 
That doesn't mean our point of view isn't valid. We have to look out for ourselves and the only satisfying way to resolve conflict is when both sides feel the solution is advantageous to them -- a win-win scenario. 

So, I hope you have more out of body experiences and I hope I do, too.