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Key Lesson: None are less likely to lend an encouraging word, a helping hand, or to offer a supporting smile than those who feel sure the whole world, and everyone in it, runs in their debt... and therefore aren't entitled to any more consideration than is convenient to give.

Transcend Self-Limiting Self-Interests

It is within relationships that we grow as individuals in everything valuable, because it is through them that we become stronger and wiser, allowing us to realize a love that transcends our unseen self-limiting self-interests. What do we have to do to change the balance sheet of our lives so that for every measure of impatience and intolerance there may be at least an equivalent sum of compassion and consideration?

With few exceptions, the usual focus of our attention and interactions with others is centered on our self and the fulfillment of its desires. "How do I feel about you?" "What do I want from him?" or "When will she realize that I know best?" In other words, our mindset, under most circumstances, is: "Me first." By forever placing our own considerations before considering any other, we remain the master of our own universe, even if all that revolves through it is our own imagined importance.

With your willingness to work through the following four suggested practices for deliberately placing your usual self in "second place," you agree not only to change the way you see your relationships, but you also agree to be changed by the truths your new relationships will inevitably show you about you.

  • Be as alert to what you can do to help someone else in any given moment as you are critically aware of others for failing to notice your immediate needs.

  • Do whatever act of kindness you may be moved to do for another person without drawing attention to your deed, or to yourself for having done it.

  • Look for ways to make moments work to the advantage of someone else besides yourself.

  • When gathered with friends or family, instead of competing for the spotlight, voluntarily help to shine it on someone whom you know its light will emotionally lift or otherwise encourage.

The main thrust of these special inner exercises is to show you how to use each developing moment in your relationships with family, friends, and coworkers to consciously change your relationship with yourself... and everything true that we discover about ourselves enlarges our relationship with Real Life.

This article is excerpted from Seeker's Guide to Self-Freedom (pages 159-162).

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