Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

The Secret to Equanimity: Everyone Is Another You

People in Hot Springs

“After all, all human beings are the same – made of human flesh, bones and blood.  We all want happiness and want to avoid suffering. Further, we have an equal right to be happy.  In other words, it is important to realize our sameness as human beings.” – The Dalai Lama

What would happen if you started to see people as another “you?”

  • Like you, they just want to be happy and they don’t want to suffer.  But they don’t necessarily know how to be happy so they engage in behaviors that bring the opposite of what they desire for themselves and others. Addiction, overeating, obsessive ambition, perfectionism – the list of confused behaviors is endless and they all stem from wanting happiness, but going about it the wrong way.
  • Like you, they have unconscious, deeply rooted patterns that govern much of their behavior.  Half the time, they don’t know why they do what they do or can’t control the storm of emotions that dominates their life.
  • Like you, their true nature is divine.  But they don’t realize it.  So they take their thoughts and emotions to be  real and as their entire identity.  Instead they could find spaciousness and ease by recognizing thoughts as ever-changing, refusing to hold onto them, and aligning with their true essence.

Deep down, everyone is really just like you with the similar confusions and the same incredible potential for good.

How to See Everyone As Another You

The holidays present boundless opportunities for added and unwanted social engagement from crowded stores to office parties to obligatory family gatherings.  If you enter these situations expecting the same old or the worst, that’s what you’re likely to find.

And there will be plenty of irritation, agitation, boredom, or restlessness to go along with it.

But what if you saw everyone as another “you” and put yourself in their shoes?  You might find curiosity, kindness, and empathy arising instead.  And that could transform your entire experience for the better. For example:

  • When someone’s elbowing you to get ahead at a store sale, you might remember times you pushed yourself forward and feel compassion for them.
  • When someone’s stuck in the tension of perfection while decorating or preparing a celebratory meal, you might recall episodes when you couldn’t let go until you dotted the last i.
  • When someone bores you at a family gathering, you might consider, what do they really need?  Is it really the end of the world to be bored for a few hours?  Could you simply sit and listen attentively with an open heart as a form of kindness?  Could you bring up curiosity instead of shutting down and turning off?
  • When someone gets drunk, you might wonder what pain they’re attempting to drown with alcohol.  That doesn’t mean you accept unruly behavior, but you can still open your heart to their suffering.

You Reap What You Sow

If we really understood how the world works, we would naturally be compassionate whatever situation occurred. We would know in the depth of our hearts that harming others brings harm, helping others brings goodness.  This universal reality is called “karma” by some or “you reap what you sow” by others.

The results may not always be immediate or obvious, but sometimes they are.  That can give you confidence in this fundamental truth.  For example, when you treat someone badly, even though it may be unintended, they often respond in kind and you end up with a mess on your hands.  Has that happened to you?

Whether you see the results right away or not, they are inevitable.  It’s up to you to choose the result you would like to see and adjust your behavior accordingly.

Use the Cognitive Mind to Grow Compassion

Often compassion is not our first response.  That’s because we usually have a strong habit of self-protection and the concern of self-interest at the forefront of our mind.  So we’re more likely to respond with aversion, dislike, anger, self-righteousness or another negative emotion when challenged by trying personal encounters.

But compassion doesn’t have to be an occasional emotional affair, stirred by the site of  unusual suffering.  You can use your cognitive mind in the ways cited above to help you open your heart and keep it tender.  You’ll have to train your mind in compassion if you would like this emotion to be your automatic fallback.

This isn’t just for the other person’s benefit either.

When you feel more love and compassion, you feel more relaxed, open, and spacious.  When you begin to see people as another “you,” your heart softens, your perspective changes, and gradually you liberate yourself from your own negativity and aggression.

You win too.

Compassion doesn’t mean you put up with unacceptable behavior personally or globally.  Compassion, however, provides the space to see better solutions, the chance to connect heart to heart, and the opportunity for positive change to occur.

  • The power of understanding and compassion can liberate a nation.  Think of Gandhi.
  • The power of understanding and compassion can free a people.  Think of Nelson Mandela.
  • The power of understanding and compassion can save a child’s life.  Think of Mother Theresa.

But you don’t have to be legendary to bring goodness to others.  Your every thought, word, and action can make a difference in someone’s life.

“If you consider others just the same as yourself, it will help you to open up your relationships and give them a new and richer meaning.  Imagine if societies and nations began to view each other in the same way; at least we would have the beginnings of a solid basis for peace on earth and the happy coexistence of all peoples.” – Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.

Compassion begins by seeing everyone as another “you.”  [Click to Tweet]

So try to use every opportunity the holidays present as a way to train your mind and heart in compassion.  If you do, you’ll have a far different experience.

Do you see people as another “you.”  Do you think it would make a difference in your life?

P. S. As the holidays heat up are you heating up too?  Maybe it’s the time to give yourself the gift of ease.  Check out my signature e-course:  Living with Ease:  30 Days to Less Stress.

I’m so glad you’re here! If you liked this article, please consider subscribing for free updates by email.  If you can take a moment to share this post on social media, I would be very grateful.  With love, Sandra

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20 Comments

  1. Hi Sandra,

    The first three points you make about life and people contain the whole philosophy of life. How well you have compressed the whole life, the emotions, the wants and the consequences in just few sentences is a marvel…it shows how well you understand life and how succinctly you can make your point! That is what makes you a darling blogger and a friend, you seem to be wonderfully prudent! Love you!

    Yes, we all so similar yet so different! I like your subtle way of suggesting – to be benevolent, compassionate and patient – your pearls of wisdom can move mountains! You have said so much in this article that it can be elaborated into a book! Your words train the heart and the mind in the most spontaneous manner. Thanks for such an invaluable advice.

    • Thank you for such kind and appreciative words, Balroop. I feel you’re so on target about those first three points. If we could embrace them, our life would be transformed indeed.

      Honestly, it’s not my personal wisdom. It is the wisdom of the ages given to us so generously be the spiritual giants who have tread before us to show the path. The way you resonate so strongly with this wisdom, shows how open and deep your own heart and mind are.

  2. Beautiful article Sandra! I remember interviewing one of the directors for Nonviolent Communication and he totally schooled my audience and me. He asked me what I wanted and what my fears were and then he asked me what I thought everyone else wanted and what their fears and it’s pretty much the same. In the work I did with stepmoms, this was a major V-8 moment for many women listening. “You mean my husband’s ex-wife has the same wants, needs, and fears as I do.?” Talk about a shazam moment.

    Until we all realize that we are more alike than not, then our ego-I will continue to create this illusion of separateness.

    Have a beautiful week Sandra!
    xo
    Peggy

    • That’s a perfect illustration, Peggy! Recognizing this can blow apart our world in the best possible way and bring us so much more happiness and freedom. Your examples are so inspiring! I’m all for shazam and interconnectedness.

      I hope you have a wonderful week too.

  3. Jean Sampson

    What a wonderful post, Sandra. I already “know” this, but it might be a lifetime’s work to really “get ” it down deep and to remember it in all situations. Have a lovely Holiday!

    • I feel the same way, Jean! You’re so right! Growing our heart and understanding is a continuous process. Much love to you.

  4. There is such beauty in your words. Sending this to my 20 year old granddaughter. Love it!

  5. This was really beautiful. Thank you. This is how I try to live my life, too. However, I was so glad to read over some concrete ideas for the approach because wanting to do or be something is sometimes different than actually having the strength to practice and live it.

    • Thank you, Jennifer! I’m inspired that this is how you try to live your life too. I also find inspiration, encouragement, and methods so helpful as we follow our path. Be well!

  6. Well this is essential reading before the holidays! It’s a huge reminder how we get impatient or judgmental about other people even though we’ve all made the same mistakes as others many times over. I will be bearing it in mind and hopefully bearing up better for it 😉

  7. Awesome Sandra!

    I like your take on imagining or seeing other people as if each one was another you and comparing your own past experiences to the ones they are displaying so that you can feel compassion instead of frustration, anger, or resentment.

    Love your article! It feels synchronistic for me because of a video I shared a couple weeks ago when I mentioned a very similar topic. I suggested that everyone IS another incarnation of you.

    If we speak of all of us as if we are one, and the one entity is God or a god like life force, I suggested that maybe we are simply incarnating as all humans simultaneously in order to experience this life from all possible perspectives at once.

    If that’s so, then we ARE all literally everyone but we just don’t “know” it on a conscious level.

    That being said… Can we not easily show compassion or accept each other knowing that the experience the other person is having is completely OK because ultimately we chose to have the experience, from that perspective, as that person?

    I feel like much of the time we have no patience for others because we cannot accept that it might be ok to be, act, do, or experience life in that other way.

    We reject those behaviors because they don’t line up with our own personal opinions, beliefs, or values.

    But, what if it was OK to be, do, have, act, experience, etc… in EVERY other possible way and we had more compassion and acceptance toward each other not because we had to ‘relate’ to them by thinking of something similar in our own lives, but because we truly were happy for them experiencing their life in a completely different way than our own because that is exactly the purpose they came here to do?

    Samantha

    • You have a very creative mind, Samantha! This is an interesting idea as it would be quite alarming to realize that we are treating our self in the form of another person badly. That could be a real wake up call.

      I follow the Buddhist path. Buddhism doesn’t believe that “we are all one” in this way, but it certainly does believe in tolerance, patience, forgiveness, and karma. All of which help us see others in an entirely different way.

      Thanks for adding this intriguing perspective.

  8. Thanks for sharing this with us! I really enjoy reading your blog as it helps to take a step back and reflect on life – which is so important in our busier and busier lives.. Even the point of just trying to understand the other person (as you outlined in this post) should actually come natural but we are so busy living our lives (that probably most of us don’t even want to live the way the currently do) that we are only interested in ourselves. If just everyone would just add one little act of understanding to his or her day, the world would be a much nicer place..

    • It sounds like that’s what you’re doing, Jessica, adding that time for reflection and understanding. How wonderful! I agree with you from the depth of my heart! If only we could take this small step, the world would be nicer. And that would give us the impulse to take another small step in the same direction

      I hear what you are saying about busy. Thanks for letting me know my blogs help you take a step back from all the craziness now and then. Hope you get all the space you need. Wishing you the very best.

  9. This is one of the wisest and most important holiday messages I’ve ever read. Thank you for your love, compassion, and wisdom. You are an incredible role model.

    • You’re so welcome, Vironika! This is actually ancient wisdom, but perfect for our modern world. I’m grateful to all my teachers who have shared this message. Wishing you love and joy!

  10. This is such a great mindset shift. We tend to always look at the world as “me and them” instead of “us”. I’ve always found that when I take the time to try to get to know someone or approach them with childlike curiosity that I am often pleasantly surprised with who they are. Great article!

    • I love your approach, KW. I agree, playful curiosity is a great way to keep your mind and heart open and receptive. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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