Years ago, I read a quote by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – “Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an unuprooted small corner of evil.” This quote came to mind as I was reading Debbie Ford’s book, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers. In it, she talks about the importance of accepting our dark sides and finding the good in those aspects of ourselves that we hate. This has been one of the greatest lessons I have learned as a coach.
What are the “don’t be(s)” that you tell yourself? Don’t be mean? Don’t be selfish? Don’t be unkind? That’s just the beginning of my list, it can go on for pages. The fact is, there are times that I am mean, I am selfish, and I am unkind. And, there are times those behaviors serve me and/or serve those around me. When we begin to accept the fact that everyone, myself included, have both good and bad within us, we can begin to see that there is less that divides us than unites us. When you find yourself locking in on a judgment about someone else, take a moment to think about what circumstances could have caused you to take the same action or stance. Give yourself the same gift and see how it changes how you view the world and yourself. In the end, we are all too human.
I think the universe is telling me to be curious and open my mind to new ideas. My mother recently introduced me to Bookbub, a site that offers free and heavily discounted ebooks daily. I find that there is always at least one book that captures my attention and gets downloaded. This was followed last Saturday by a call from a good friend asking if I wanted to join her to visit the Book Thing in Baltimore. The Book Thing is an old converted building whose “mission is to put unwanted books into the hands of those who want them”…again for free. I donated five and came out with eighteen. Then, there are the libraries here. Coming from an place where the library is a small converted trailer and there are no longer any major bookstores on island, it’s a joy to be able to use the libraries again. Bottom line, there is no reason for me to be limited by what I think I know.
Confuscius said, “You cannot open a book without learning something.” It’s true. Even books I’ve read before seem to have new spins that I missed the first time. I have to admit that I have been known to walk into wine stores and pick out wines because I like the labels — some are really good, some not so — but it is a learning tool. I have done the same with books lately. Choosing books because I am intrigued by the titles without reading what they are about. I’ve had some really interesting and totally unexpected finds. This week I’m suggesting that you turn off the computer and the television and pick up a book. Find a quiet corner and read. Expand your mind, explore new ideas (at least to you), and let your imagination fill in the details. We spend too much time with shortcuts that tell us what to see, what to think, how to feel. Take your power back and think for yourself. It is liberating.