“Do not speak ill of others, no matter what, otherwise you will be like the old Chinese saying, ‘You can see the faults of others quite clearly, but cannot see the dirt on the back of your own neck.’” ~ Grandmaster T.T. Liang
The above quote is from a book I just finished entitled, Steal My Art: The Life and Times of T’ai Chi Master T.T. Liang. It was a wonderful read and I hope to write a review of the book in a future post. This quote has stuck out this week as I’ve been on my way. First I will admit that I am guilty of speaking ill of others. By writing about it, I feel it helps me work through my thoughts as well as make a statement of how I hope to handle situations in the future.
I don’t feel I’m one to speak ill of others insensibly, but I’ve caught myself when a situation with another person doesn’t go the way I planned. My initial feeling is to be angry or frustrated at the other person and also with myself for letting it reach that point. Sometimes I let the emotion get embedded in my day or maybe even longer throughout the week, affecting other areas of my life and my teaching. I’ll find myself sharing these emotions with people around me, possibly to people who don’t even know the other person. And while I think talking about your feelings is a valid way to work through difficult situations, I’ve really started to be aware of how I’m talking and who I’m talking to.
I have three goals I’m working on when it comes to situations like these. First, I’m trying to avoid the emotions altogether that are attached to the situation. If I do get emotional, I want to take some time to think and approach it calmly at a later point. I once asked Professor Pedro Sauer how he handled situations like this and he said, “Always take twenty-four hours before reacting.” Simple, but great advice!
Secondly, I want to only talk about the situation to the person directly involved or discuss my approach to what Grandmaster Liang calls an intimate friend, “…these are the people with whom we have a close affinity. No matter what they or we do, no matter if we are together or apart, such friends always care deeply for each other.” By talking to an intimate friend, I’m able to get a different perspective with less risk of spreading ill will or adding to the gossip mill.
Finally if the situation or person in question comes up in conversation with someone other than an intimate friend, I want to respond positively no matter how I personally feel.
I know all of this is easier said than done, but now it’s out there and with practice I know I can at least get better!