She mentioned that our attitude towards others is reflected back to us. In Mishlei (otherwise known as Proverbs) 27:19 we learn that:
“As water reflects a face back to a face, so one’s heart is reflected back to him by another.”
What does this mean? Well, let’s say a pair of roommates don’t get along so well. They get on each others’ nerves more and more, until every interaction is strained and prickly. They are probably both thinking “What is her problem?” The problem is that the more they focus on how annoying the other one is, the more they are feeding into the demise of the relationship. The negative feelings just continue to ricochet off each other until perhaps they can no longer be roommates.
I know a counselor who maintains that the best way to start getting along with someone who seems difficult is to be very, very nice to them. It’s very difficult to be unpleasant to someone who is giving you compliments and being very nice. Genuinely nice, of course, no fakey Hollywood niceness. She suggests finding real, honest reasons to appreciate the person, and then to express that appreciation. Turn the viewpoint around from negative to positive. Is the person anal-retentive? Find a reason to appreciate their attention to detail, view it as put-together and capable. Doesn’t that sound nicer? Is the person stubborn? View it as dedicated and stable. I’m sure you can think of more (and perhaps better) examples.
This can certainly apply to spouses. If you’re sensing frustrated and/or less-than-positive vibes, check out your own attitude, and start sending positive thoughts and warm fuzzies out. It really works. Really. It’s not always easy; I know that my pesky ego gets in my way a lot (so annoying). But when it’s possible to subjugate that desire for honor, it’s worth it.
Rebbetzin Karlinsky went on to explain that the way we treat others is the way Hashem treats us. Okay, so what does that mean? It sounds serious. That’s ’cause it is.
We learn that when we have mercy and compassion on another person, even, or perhaps especially, when that person has wronged us, then Hashem will also have mercy on compassion on us when we do something wrong. I don’t know about you, but I make mistakes on a regular basis. I can use all the help I get.
Not to get scary, but the reverse is also true. If a person sits around judging, scrutinizing and essentially condemning their fellow humans, that’s going to activate the same kind of judgment and scrutiny up above. No thanks. I’d like to skip that.
Of course, it’s not just as simple as always being nice and never passing judgment. Many times emotions pull us strongly in one way or another, but, like with all self-improvement, go slow, take small steps, and celebrate each spiritual victory. As Sara Yocheved Rigler said,
“There is no such thing as an insignificant spiritual victory.”
Okay, so now go out and be nice to everyone!
- Torah Tuesdays: Thinking before speaking (lifeinthemarriedlane.com)
- Torah Tuesdays: The more you give, the more you have (lifeinthemarriedlane.com)
- Torah Tuesdays: Better Late than Never (lifeinthemarriedlane.com)