Shaping others

A 20th century Catholic monk and writer Thomas Merton, wrote:

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”

I believe that is partly true. Rather than us insisting other people be like us, we should learn to respect other people’s differences, as long as those differences don’t begin to impact our health or our lives. In that case, there would be no reason why we cannot celebrate and love others for who they are.

Instead, we tend to react a certain way, expecting others to conform to our beliefs and tend to ignore them if we don’t. We all inherently have the ability to reason and respect each other. It’s part of the human condition, but it’s not something all of us will do. We must all choose to be conciliatory towards each other. We must show kindness.

No one should be allowed to hurt, just as no one should be allowed to take away another person’s freedom of will to make their own choices about how they want to live or how they see their lives. We must be tolerant of other people and their beliefs. As a child has boundaries established, so adults too must establish proper boundaries.

I think however, that when we come to terms with letting go of our need to control others to fit an image of us, or ignore others because they don’t agree with our beliefs and the way we choose to live our lives, we automatically release ourselves from the anxiety and frustration that comes with us wanting to control. We will come to enjoy serenity and peace.

I have seen first hand what happens when our beliefs are so deeply ingrained that we become intolerant of how other people live. It helps to remember that we all have a right to be ourselves and to accept that we’re all different.


5 Jan, 2014

4 thoughts on “Shaping others

  1. I think I respect other people’s life. How they live and their beliefs.

    I tried to change my step-daughter when she was little, but there was no changing her. She was more like a boy than a girl. She was a tom boy and I thought all girls should be like a girl not a boy. But I soon learned to accept her for who she was and once I did that we got along much better.

    Other people will rebel if you try to change them and it will put a riff in the relationship. I agree that we should accept others for who they are and not try to change them to suit our beliefs.

  2. Well, there seems to be a lot of people trying to do that to others in the world and you can see what happens there!

    I’ve spent the majority of my life being a chameleon, trying to become what others seemed they wanted to be and hated every minute of it. I sometimes joke that my mother should have worked for the CIA considering how effective she had been at brainwashing me and breaking my spirit, so I would comply with her wishes!

    People often thought I was a spoiled brat but I paid a very high price for her love and attention. I know how much it bothered me growing up so I can really understand why people would fight so hard to live the way they want to.

    It doesn’t seem like too much to ask to be able to live our own lives without being harassed for it. My biggest example of this was when I went into the Army and found out I so hated taking orders! They broke me too, after they wouldn’t let me go and I spent many months in a dissociative fog that I still have nightmares about to this day!

    People spend so much time trying to live this way and it’s no wonder they have a meltdown. There are just so many pressures to conform to the norm, that explain why people become alcoholics or addicts just to escape like I did!

    Pretty bad when I’m 45 and still don’t have much of a clue as to who I really am. I’m mostly hoping to just be comfortable in my own skin and do some small part to make the world a better place!

    1. As your story shows Randy, we all have a story to tell about our childhood and how life can work. I’m not sure anyone comes out of their childhood completely unscathed.

      I feel for you, but have confidence that your life will have brought you some strength. We cannot change how people shape us in our formative years, but we can learn how to change certain aspects of ourselves and our lives, by looking at the bigger picture on what we’ve had to deal with.

      I hope you find comfort in your life and above all peace. I’m here for you. You take care.

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