I’ve always been insanely curious about people. For literally as long as I can remember, I’ve read about characters in books and watched people around me in fascination, wondering how they see the world and what drives them to do what they do.
Curious and interested as I was, I wouldn’t say that I necessarily liked people all that much.
I mean, I liked some of them. I liked the people I understood; the ones who appeared to think like me. But I was intimidated by and afraid of most people.
People seemed dangerous. They were loose cannons, capable of saying or doing something that could permanently hurt me. Just as I didn’t understand them, I didn’t really understand myself either. I viewed myself as fragile and capable of being permanently hurt, so it only made sense that other people appeared threatening and unsafe.
I’ve been on a steep learning curve with this over the past several years. It began to rapidly change when I started talking with people in a deeper way. As I began having the type of deep, honest conversations I have with people today, a different vision of human nature emerged.
I saw that we’re all the same. On the surface we aren’t, of course. The superficial details differ wildly from person to person.
When we stop at the superficial details—the what-you’re-thinking, how-you’re-seeing-things, what-you’re-choosing-to-do kind of stuff—we look different and alone. But when you look beyond that, we’re incredibly, remarkably similar.
I feel so blessed that in deep conversations with now hundreds of people, our shared human nature is as clear as day. It’s practically all I can see.
When you hear several hundred people tell their own unique version of “I felt threatened/scared/inferior, so I [fill in the blank]”, you naturally begin to look past the blank and hone in on what we all share.
Or when you hear 9 people in a single week share their own version of “What if [fill in the blank] doesn’t work/falls apart/makes me look bad?” you can’t help but deeply realize that we all have the exact same fears in different packages. If one is clearly subjective and biased, they all are.
These conversations and this understanding of our shared human nature makes it hard to not fall in love with people.
We are all loving, kind, wise, and peaceful by nature. And as thinking human beings, we are all insecure and scared when we are caught up in our own heads. Those differences in thought may produce our emotions and guide our choices at times, but they mean nothing about who we really are.
They say as much about who we are as a passing thunderstorm says about the sky.
In hundreds of deep conversations over the years, I know with complete certainty that people aren’t mean—they are only hurting or scared.
I know with complete certainty that we’re all acting from our temporary, largely habitual thinking. When that thinking changes, our choices change. The things we’ve done—especially the unkind things—never meant anything about us; they were only a reflection of our thinking in that moment.
It’s difficult to put too much stock in what anyone does or says when you see that they are only acting from their momentary view of things. It’s like asking someone to put on purple-tinted sunglasses and spin around 10 times, and then assuming that their description of what they see reflects who they are in some way.
I’ve deeply seen how unbelievably resilient we all are. Because pain is in our thinking, and our thinking is always changing to make way for new thinking, those permanent scars I feared seem far less likely than they once did.
I don’t worry so much about saying the wrong thing, or about not being able to help someone see around their pain, because I know that the mind is self-correcting. When you’re no longer lost in your head, you’ll find your way back to your peaceful nature.
Of course, since this is true of all people, it is true of myself as well. I’m not nearly as fragile as I once believed I was. Seeing that people can’t hurt me in the way I feared leaves me feeling fundamentally safe. Fundamentally safe, I am free to love people even more.
Of course, I don’t always fall in love with all people. But now, when I’m feeling intimidated or afraid or separate from a person, I know that my state of mind is the reason. My own personal thinking is in the way, creating a barrier against our natural connection.
And even that is not a problem. The barrier is a temporary one made of nothing but moving, passing thought.
I can’t tell you what a relief it is to know that my not falling in love with someone has nothing to do with me or with them. It only has to do with my state of mind in that very moment.
This is how life moved me from being curious-from-a-distance about people, to honestly being able to say that I love people regardless of what they do or say. (In fact, it’s sometimes easier to feel love for the ones who are acting from their own insecurity. When you know that’s all that’s happening—and that you misbehave from your own insecurity at times—you can relate. You feel compassion for their suffering more so than judgment of the suffering they appear to be inflicting on others.)
We’re all in this together, all operating in the same way.
You don’t have to spend years in deep conversation with hundreds of people to see this yourself. If these truths resonate with you, you can “catch” your own insights from the story of my experience. That’s why I wrote this.
You can catch a feel for the truth about people in an instant, at any time. And when you do, I bet you’ll fall in love with them too.