“Anytime you have a negative feeling toward anyone, you’re living in an illusion There’s something seriously wrong with you. You’re not seeing reality. Something inside of you needs to change.”
Anthony de Mello, Awareness: the Perils and Opportunities of Reality.
This rather provocative quote was presented in class, in the context of being self-aware in situations where you find yourself feeling angry at others. The idea is that if someone else seems to be causing you anger (barring situations of injustice, etc.), there is something going on inside of you that is being triggered and it's not really about the other person. By being aware of yourself and the things that trigger you ahead of time, you gain personal power in those situations when they arise.
True knowledge of self empowers you. I think that this quote, while rather strongly stated, speaks even beyond the context of anger. At the root of many negative emotions toward others are my own prejudices, insecurities, and fears. What makes me respond with more kindness and grace toward one person than toward another? Perhaps this person recalls painful things from past? Or could it be that the things I secretly hate most about myself are the things that I most reject in others? When Jesus commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, it is as much a command for self-love as for loving others. When I can love myself and receive grace for my faults - then perhaps I can extend that to others who remind me of my weaknesses. And when I can receive healing and experience forgiveness for the painful events of the past - then perhaps I can extend love toward those who remind me of those events.
Self-awareness means recognizing when subtle negative emotions are triggered within me, and being deliberate about seeking the grace from God to love and heal whatever is at the root of those emotions. It also means recongizing when I may be triggering such things in other people, and extending grace to them, even if they cannot embrace me in return.