I don’t know why the lifestyle choices of others cause such consternation, fury and downright condemnation in the hearts of some – or, come to that, why metaphorical bulls are so enraged by the red of another’s house, clothing, gender decisions, even food choices that they will threaten – and, indeed, carry out – all manner of nasties to make their ox-like point.
Except, actually, I think I do have at least an inkling as to why this widespread habit persists – and it links with another strand of thought which has occurred to me in recent days: Working on ourselves, or evading the discipline this, invariably, requires.
Permit me to pontificate! During our lives, we regularly come up against the divide in the path which, one way, takes us down the track of Change and, the other, along Stay as I am! Human nature is resistant to change more often than not – and for every decision to go down the left hand fork, we can count another ten examples in which we opted for the apparently easier Stay as I am one.
But clever games can be played at these crossroads of life – and, let’s face it, often are. The first – and one I have used myself countless times – is to deny the reality of the Change path, or state defensively that one does not need it! Another good wheeze is to claim that one has reached such a high level of spiritual growth that one has slipped, by default, into Guru status and one’s job, therefore, is the ushering (at the end of a gun, if necessary!) of others souls along that Change path!
To put it another way, it is the kind of denial which insists that other people’s lifestyle choices are the problem and only intense work on themselves – supervised rigorously by the Denier, of course! – can shift the energies, re-align the Chakras and turn a substandard human being into something vaguely acceptable.
But, change comes from within, does it not? Nobody else can make lifestyle decisions for us. Nobody else can dictate the pace, or direction, of our spiritual and personal work, or punish us because, in their eyes, we are not progressing as fast as they would like.
Those people who avoid their own mirrors and Change! prompts – and we all do at some point! – whilst insisting that everyone else is in need of major restructuring are, to my mind, mole-blind at best, bloody dangerous at worst. Those who see themselves as being, in some way, more sorted, and thus superior, to the rest of us are dallying with deadly delusion!
It becomes poisonous when irritants within the Denier’s soul, ignored and locked away, are projected onto the lifestyles of others. This can reveal itself in many ways, from the superficial (what we eat, how we arrange our homes: All wrong in the Denier’s mind!) to the seriously prejudiced (the all-too-common responses to members of the LGTBQ community, for example, whose lifestyle choices trigger terror, and aggression, in the hearts of those not at ease with their own gender affiliation and sexuality).
My question is this: Why is it so important to some people that everyone else subscribes to their take on life?
And, allied to that thought: Why is it that some people are convinced that they, and they alone, know how someone else’s life should be lived?
Is that not a tad arrogant? To say the least! Is that not giving oneself the power of a God or Goddess? Certainly a Dictator!
Most times, when you dissect the cadaver of logical ‘argument’ (read emotional rant!), it actually comes down to these bare bones: ‘My choices are indubitably RIGHT and, therefore, everyone else in the world should be doing as I do, say and think!’
It is like a primary school playground chant, isn’t it?
‘My lifestyle choices are better than yours – na na na nana!’
The number of times we all say, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t do/buy/eat that, if I were you!’ would, I suspect, horrify us if we counted them up. But the reality is this: We are NOT the other person (that’s the whole point); our opinions are just that – opinions – and what works for us may well be totally inappropriate for the other.
Coming back to my metaphor of the crossroads/paths, one thing stands out with grim clarity (I use the word ‘grim’ because I know how often I have denied, avoided, run away and made excuses!): The appearances of these dividing paths in our lives are meant for US; they are not for others. We can, of course, pathwork together – and it can be highly rewarding – but that does not change the basically solitary nature of the Hermit’s path, be it spiritual, emotional or academic. It is when we insist that WE don’t need to change that we are showing the universe that, actually, change is our greatest need and challenge, and no amount of pinning the spotlight on other people’s lives is going to make a ha’porth of difference!
It is terribly, and terrifyingly, easy to take a controlling stance when it comes to the perceived faults, weaknesses and lifestyle decisions of those we know. It is frighteningly easy to think that we know best, have all the right answers – and would, let us be blunt here, live the other’s life so much better given half a chance and a prevailing wind!
It is laughably easy to react immediately, and furiously, to the red cloak of another’s weird (to us) lifestyle choices and to try and horn in on the vulnerable underbelly that comes with most decisions in this life of ours.
People make thousands of choices in their lives. Some will be excellent and serve them well; others will be daft or dangerous, badly thought-out or made when under the influence. But we do not have the bigger picture of another’s life. We cannot tell which strange choices will, actually, turn out to be amazing one way or another, and which, though perfect in our eyes, do not lead to a Path with Heart.
We may not approve. We may feel dubious. We may express our doubt and give advice. But I think it behoves us to look in that clear inner mirror first and make absolutely sure that our red rag moment is not the result of massive and widespread denial of our own flaws: That we are not forcing others down our own Paths of Change so that we can continue to take evasive action.
Lifestyle choices are precisely that. They are not Commandments engraved in stone tablets. They change as we grow. We adapt them as our soul’s journey continues.
A pertinent question to ask is this: Why does Person A’s lifestyle enrage me so much?
The answer can be very surprising!