Open-Minded vs. Self-Conscious

By Greg Baer M.D.

March 21, 2012


Sarah called and said, "I just don't know what to do with my mother."

"In what way?" I asked.

"When I tell her anything about myself, or what I'm doing, she comments on it, and makes suggestions, and every single time she misunderstands me. She assumes the worst about my motivations, my choices, everything."

I laughed before I asked my question, already knowing the answer. "Have you tried to explain to her your true motivations and reasoning? Have you tried to get her to really understand you?"

"A million times, but she–"

"Sorry, kid, I was just joking. I know you have. And how has it gone when you've tried to do that?"

"She doesn't hear a single word I say. In fact, it just makes it worse."

"So does your mother understand you?"

"No."

"Is it likely that she will in the near future?"

"I guess not."

"No, not likely at all. So what should you do with her opinions?"

"I don't know."

"Would you characterize your mother as peaceful and unconditionally loving?"

"Not at all."

"Then she is empty and afraid, so she would be utterly incapable of seeing who you really are. She could describe you only in terms of whether you gave her what she wanted, or whether she perceived that you were trying to hurt her. She wouldn't be able to see you at all. So how closely should you pay attention to what she says about you?"

"Probably shouldn't, but I struggle with wanting to keep an open mind about what she says. She might be right about something I'm doing that's wrong. But I don't want to feel bad about myself because of what she says either."

"Well stated. Always be willing to examine what people say for any element of truth—no matter how distorted their opinions—but don't let them tell you who you are if they speak from a place that is less than loving."

Even selfish, angry people may have observations about our behaviors that we cannot see. We must be willing to listen, but not to accept what they say without examination from a perspective of Real Love.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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