We are renting out a room in our house, and since our first priority is finding someone who is a good match, we are pretty relaxed about the timeline.
Last weekend, someone came over to look at the room, and since there wasn’t a big yes! there, we let it go. (He also had a big story about how he repeatedly was being turned down, which he was happy to share.)
Yesterday, someone called about the room, and as I explained where we are located, he interrupted me and said “you are an asshole” and hung up. At that point, I realized that he must have been the same “Jim” that came over last weekend, and obviously hurt by being turned down again.
There wasn’t much coming up for me about it, apart from surprise and also empathy with his situation, but it is still helpful to explore more in detail how I am (or can be seen as) an asshole.
How can I find that in myself?
- I didn’t call him back saying that he didn’t get the room. I never said I would, and did tell him we would take our time with finding someone, but I could certainly have been more clear about it. I could have said that if he didn’t hear anything from us, it meant we were still looking. Or asked him if he wanted us to call either way. So by not being clear there, and not taking his needs into consideration, I can certainly see how I (or my behavior) can be seen as an asshole. It fits.
- After he called, I found myself siding with clarity, seeing his confusion as Other. So in my arrogance, I can easily find myself as an asshole. It balances out the situation.
And I can easily find it in myself in other situations in my life.
- I sometimes don’t take other people’s needs fully into account (or rather what they perceive as their needs), for different reasons, and especially those who are not regularly in my life.
- I sometimes procrastinate about things which don’t seem all that important to me, which can bring up stress in others.
- I sometimes see myself as better than others.
- I sometimes (often) don’t share my insights, even if it could be helpful to others. (I tell myself it is too obvious, or myself as not having anything to contribute, which is another form of arrogance, of seeing myself as separate and special.)
- I am not aware of all the far-reaching and long-term impacts of my actions, so engage in actions which certainly harm others. Sometimes I am even aware of the harmful impacts, but still engage in the behavior.
In all of these, and many other, ways, I can be seen as an asshole, and rightfully so. And seeing that, owning it, is a release. I don’t have to push it away, try to deny it, defend an identity as “not-asshole”… I can side with it, find it in myself, see certain sides of myself more clearly… and there is a beautiful release in that. An opening… a receptivity… a meeting of myself and others where we are at.
To not leave out the bigger picture:
Finding myself as an asshole is of course just one part of the process. For a more real release, I also need to explore the reversals of that story and find the truth there.
And I can also find the genuine gifts in being an asshole (or rather, of other people seeing my behavior that way). What are the gifts of being seen as an asshole?
- I don’t have anything to live up to anymore. My image is already shattered, so it leaves me free. I am spared, as Byron Katie would have put it.
- Also, it nudges me to investigate, as I have done here (and more throughly than I did here). It helps me find it in myself, befriending another aspect of my shadow. It helps me deepen into my humanity, by owning it.
- It is liberating when people are so honest about their views and feelings. He didn’t try to hide it, or put it in more civilized terms. He was direct and honest, and there is a tremendous gift and beauty in that. He shared freely of himself.
So again, by investigating it, I find that there are gifts all around. The gifts in seeing what is already more true for me.
What appeared true, initially, was (or could have been) “no, I am not an asshole. Actually, he is!”
And by investigating it, I find what is already more true for me… the truth in being an asshole, and the reversals, and even the gifts in being seen as an asshole.
The first, the denial of it, is stressful. There is an identity to defend, even in the face of evidence that it is not 100% true. There is a sense of separation, of alienation from him, myself, and life. There is a tension, mentally and physically. And much more.
The second, the investigation of and siding with it, is liberation. It gives a release from having to defend a particular identity. It helps me see what is already more true for me. It gives a sense of connection, with him, myself and life. It allows for receptivity of mind (seeing the truths in the various stories) and heart (connecting with him, myself, life).