One of the truths of human life that people become immediately confronted with is that no matter how much you change yourself, others are unlikely to do so. Most people prefer the familiarity of their unconsciousness, and of course, the horrible truth about unconsciousness is that people don’t know that they don’t know. That ignorance fuels many ideas for others about themselves such as, “this is just how life is,” “my life is fine,” and many, many other beliefs. These blind beliefs are often clung to religiously by those are still unconscious, and many of them will want nothing to do with seeing life or themselves in any different light.
And yet, you will be interacting with unconscious people for most of the rest of your life.
This leads many spiritual people to wonder how do you interact consciously with people who are set on not acting consciously (and this includes more than a few so-called spiritual people). It’s not necessarily an easy question, and there isn’t one specific answer that can be used for every situation. Instead, let’s start the discussion with you.
One of the great and common errors for many spiritual people is to blame others for not being like them and doing what they are doing. Even for those that have had a spiritual awakening, they can fall into this trap. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen some spiritual person quick to throw blame on others for poor behavior or some other perceived flaw. This is particularly true of people who are newly awakened or are still immature in their inner work. I should add that maturity is not age dependent, so there are some very juvenile, spiritual 65 year-olds still blaming others for being unconscious in one way or another.
The most important part of learning how to be with unconsciousness in others is to learn how to be with unconsciousness in yourself. No one else can do this for you, and as some of you know, some of this work is more than a little challenging. If it was easy, a lot more people would do this. But unearthing old issues and noticing unhealthy patterns leads us into greater understanding of ourselves. We begin to understand how controlled and unconscious we have been by a host of inner decisions that we had no idea that we’d been making. Now that you are aware of them, you can start to work through them. In working with them, you gain greater appreciation for the challenges you present yourself, and this leads towards greater compassion for yourself. This compassion then expands outwards. It almost seems like a reflex to appreciate the suffering and the unconscious choices of others once you’ve seen and worked through your own.
Still Playing the Blame Game? Then You’re not Done With Your Work
Working on a few surface level issues isn’t enough either. It’s strange that some of our biggest issues like an issue with lack of self-worth can be hiding in plain sight. People often know about these issues, but it may be years before an individual really grapples with the core of such an issue. People tend to peel themselves open like an onion. It is rare that someone cuts straight through to the core and is able to handle the resulting upheaval that brings.
This gradual approach is just fine. Unfortunately, many people like to do a little inner work, and then blame others for not doing the rest. It’s like donating a couple clothes from the closet, and then you still blame everyone else for thinking fashion is still important. That’s great that you’re letting go of a few articles of clothing, a few blouses and pants. But if you are at peace with yourself, you would not care about whether anyone judged your fashion sense or continued to follow that belief. When you are at peace, you’d have much deeper compassion to all the people still caught up in the fashion hustle (and seriously, men and women are being hustled out of a shit ton of money).
I could probably think of dozens of examples, and the worst are usually with families and romantic partners. Those relationships are where people have more of their issues triggered and reflected back to them. Too often I get an email about someone’s “unconscious” romantic partner who totally should be doing this or that. If this arises for you, some important questions to ask yourself include: “Where does this judgement come from? Who are you to say what your partner’s life should look like? Why do you need them to act a different way?” and “If you are really so unhappy with this person, why are you still with them?” It is far easier to blame than to do your own work on your unconsciousness.
The Self-justification and Self-pity Game
Many of you are also wise enough to know that the blame game then has another crappy level to it–the self-justification game. These two games are really part of the same game, and they’re important to identify if you want to consider yourself a spiritually conscious person. Until you can identify these and all the other games you’re playing with yourself, you are pretty much just as unconscious as the people you claim are acting unconsciously. What’s worse is that you probably will misjudge some very conscious people as unconscious because you have so many blindspots to the truth.
So with the self-justification and self-pity game, you basically consign yourself to whatever your situation is while still defending your erroneous beliefs. You say things like, “Well, this is the way it is.” You limit your options. You decide that you have to be with this unconscious person, situation, or whatever the case may be. The unconscious ego is always painting itself into corners, and if you feel like you are running out of options, then now is the time to grab pen and paper and journal out why you feel that way. It may also be time for an outside perspective from someone who doesn’t know you well. People are good at creating feedback loops with their friends, you need someone outside that old loop. A feedback loop is basically how we surround ourselves with people to feed us the same story about ourselves again and again. Breaking out of our unconscious self means that we have see beyond that feedback loop, and especially if our ego story is too limited, we need people who are new to us to gain a new perspective. This is also why spiritual teachers, healers, counselors, psychologists, and others can be so useful.
Breaking out of Your Loop With Compassion
The very thing that is going to get you out of these old ways of thinking and acting is going to be your go to tool with unconscious people. That spiritual tool is compassion.
Look, it’s super okay to have unconsciousness in you. It’s part of human life. We are born into ignorance. We are taught ignorance. We watch others live in ignorance, and we act out through our ignorance. As you heal yourself, it is important to have compassion for yourself because of this human reality. Healing and spiritual growth require you to learn a brand new way of interacting with life.
While you are always perfect as you are, there is a quality of growth and intelligence within you that arises from that perfection when you let it. It won’t necessarily be easy either, and that’s why compassion towards yourself is so important. When we are ignorant, we don’t know what we don’t know. We must have compassion towards ourselves even if you have done things that have hurt others in your ignorance. It may be frustrating that some of you have to atone and repent for harm you did, but that too is part of the path. And so you will learn greater depths of love through the humility of asking for forgiveness, and that humility inherently becomes another tool for engaging with unconscious people. You will understand the costs of what some people are doing to themselves and others, and you will appreciate the humility that they will have to learn to atone for their actions.
Deepening and Expanding Your Heart
The spiritual path often comes back to love if not always. But in this space of love, we are clear-seeing. There are no rose-colored glasses here. You see unconscious behavior for what it is. You are humble and not judgmental about why people act unconsciously. You are compassionate towards the unconscious people in your life, and when needed, you can take clear and conscious action.
For the most part, most of the unconscious stuff people do isn’t imminently dangerous. When someone is an immediate danger to themselves or others, that typically is when a conscious person must act. So much of the rest of the stuff people do and say really is irrelevant. And while there are serious social, economic, and environmental issues that require attention, there is only so much you can do. I do encourage you to pick an issue that is most true to your heart. The rest of the issues must be dealt with by humanity collectively. It’s why we all have to become conscious; a few people can’t solve all the world’s problems by themselves.
Which means you are going to be expanding your heart to love the unconsciousness of suffering and pain and cruelty in this world if you are going to be a conscious person. There is so much suffering that simply will continue on until far more people choose to heal and grow. That leaves the conscious person with the only sane thing to do is to love and accept what is just as it is.
Some May Follow Your Lead, Others Will Not
One last point that I’d like to address today is the idea that somehow your being conscious will change people. It may, but it often does not. Any time someone follows your lead towards greater self-awareness and consciousness, consider it a miracle. Honor the person, and appreciate their dedication. But have no expectations. Have no expectations that those who are inspired by your example will become conscious in any way like you. Have no expectations that anyone will even be inspired to change like you. Some others will be triggered by your presence and decide to antagonize you. That is simply part of this world, but it is no different than any other set of decisions you make. Regardless of your choices, people will like you, hate you, or be indifferent to you. Those are generally the three main choices, and they don’t change no matter how conscious you are.
As you develop in compassion and become more spiritually conscious, you can love all the people and all their reactions. Typically, this kind of love will grow through preference at first–it’s easy to love the people who are kind to you. But as you learn to open your heart to the hard-hearted and cruel, other amazing shifts can occur within you and with others because most of the hard-hearted and cruel people got that way from being poorly treated. This does not mean you should put yourself intentionally in harm’s way, and as I’ve already said, have no expectations. But the opportunities for healing and growth in this world are fueled by those of us who open our hearts to everyone. In so doing, we shine a light and show a way out of unconsciousness that humanity badly needs to see, and that is the most spiritually conscious way to be with unconscious people.