Others are one of the best self-diagnostic tools we know. Our first response and subsequent acts reveal ourselves to be primarily built of knee-jerks, both those hard-wired and those carefully and repeatedly taught by those around us. We also have the possibility of intentionally following the star of self-definition and generosity-to-a-fault. Sadist and saint may be the poles of what is revealed in any encounter with another—be they animal, vegetable, or mineral, and the various values we assign to any or all of such categories. [Note the difference between indicating said animal, vegetable, or mineral is a “they” or an “it.” This is likely to be one of the variables in your research.]

A week’s worth of charting our recognized encounters with others will give a beginning baseline. When we repeat the charting process 6-months later, we will be able to tell if our responses have shifted in one direction or another. Increasing welcome of an other and paranoia about them are two common variants.

Adding two additional charts will help clarify the limit of our consciousness—1) how a trusted other observes your interactions with others and, 2) their noting anything else that has drifted on by our recognition.

Also, a refrigerator chart, a place to note:

1) a recognized other,
2) our first inclination, and
3) any shift in that expectation.

The other may be a well-established adversary, a newly encountered other, or an old friend (remember your growing into friends—did you have a common enemy or a found place of commonality.

This charting process will help sharpen your opposition as well as your appreciation of the limits and gifts of some other. Allowing an other to be other will bring more opportunities to engage in John Lewis’, “good trouble” and ease a troubled mind into restorative rest. 

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