21 October, 2009

Finding Yourself – Part I

While sitting in a seminar some years ago, I heard the lecturer make a statement that at the time I didn’t agree with.  He said [paraphrased]:
You think that you need to be separate from others in order to find yourselves.  You believe that your identity can only come to the surface if you are not surrounded by others, working in teams or in groups.  You believe that you need to be separate in order to be noticed or to really find out who you are.  But none of that’s true.  You only find yourselves in teams.  You only find yourselves when you are working with others.
As I said, I was in complete disagreement with this statement.  Yet, as you can see, the thought continued to stay in my mind, every so often, coming to the surface as if to say, “I’m still here, take a look at me again.”  I would look at that thought, measure it to what I had experienced in life, and continuing to disagree with it, I would push it to the back of my mind.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I actually began to understand what the lecturer was saying all those years ago.  And, little by little, I began to believe that what he said is true to life.  (Isn’t it amazing what just a few years of living will do to increase our understanding and wisdom?)

I found, from my own experience, that working with others always brought out things in me that I didn’t know where there – both things that I liked and things that I didn’t like.  Working alone I wasn’t challenged to get along with others, I wasn’t challenged to be understanding of others, and I certainly wasn’t challenged to try and understand another’s views.  Working alone, I only had to deal with me and I got along pretty good with myself!  Working alone, I wasn’t stretched to accept any other views other than my own.  Working alone doesn’t cause one to grow like he would when working with others.

I finally understood what the lecturer had said.  When you give yourself to others, you don’t lose yourself – you actually find yourself!  Working in teams shows you what’s inside.  It makes you aware of the things that you like about yourself and exposes those things that you don’t like and that you wish to change.  Working with others causes you to re-examine what you believe.  It challenges your beliefs and gives you insight into others beliefs so that you may choose differently than what you had believed before.  Or, it helps you grow stronger in what you already believed.

Working with others moves us much more quickly through the lessons of life that we all have to learn.  Just like rushing water helps determine what a rock is made of and polishes it over time, we need the friction provided by others to help us see what we’re each made of and to polish and mold us into what we are supposed to become.  Without the catalyst that others are for us, it can take us years longer to learn our life-lessons, which amounts to years of suffering that could be avoided.

If you are working with someone that is a challenge for you to work with, say a simple prayer asking that you be shown what it is that you are to learn from this person or from working with this person.

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