Grapevine Online Exclusive

Seeing Myself In You

By actively listening to each other, we are able to empathize

When I first got here, I couldn't identify with anyone, mostly because I didn't know how to listen. When I did bother to listen, nine out of 10 people got on my nerves. It was during my first speaker meeting that I realized I didn't know how to listen. The speaker had been talking for three or four minutes and I hadn't heard a word, my mind far down some bunny trail. I can't think and listen at the same time! When I dwell on what I'm going to say in a meeting, I miss what you're sharing. Since I already know everything I think I know, I don't get to learn anything new from you when I don't actively listen. Consequently, as a better listener today, I have fewer burning desires than I did back then.

I'd always heard that we least like in other people the things we most dislike in ourselves. But it wasn't until last fall that I began to understand why. That's when it occurred to me that if I'd despised some aspect of myself for decades, there was no wonder I despised you for that same thing. Years and years of practicing animosity towards myself was somehow more acceptable when I projected that animosity onto you! It wasn't until I worked my fourth step a third time that I realized, having fought obesity all my life, that I didn't like fat people, for no other reason than they were fat. I'd spent 45 years not liking or accepting my own obesity, so how was I going to accept yours? Today when your share resonates with me, I learn about myself by seeing myself in you. It's the reason we look for the similarities not the differences.

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