Go to a place where there are a lot of people walking about. Airport waiting areas are great for this exercise, but a park, a bus stop, a street corner will do fine. They should all be strangers to you. Take a seat and have a pen and notebook. As you gaze about the area, name the people who “catch your eye” with one word or a short phrase like: “Chubby”, “Back pain”, “Hates life”, “Wife beater”, “Low IQ”, “Thinks she’s hot”, “Bug up his…”, “Type A”, “Takes self too seriously”, “Whiner”, “Whacko”, etc. Really get into this. Don’t hold back. This is where you’re allowed to sum up EVERYONE with blurbs shot straight from the hip. Nail them.
Your job is to write down that SO OBVIOUS trait that you see in people immediately-that first impression/impact they have on you. Do it in a phrase with as few words as possible. Summarize at least 100 persons. And, if it is really necessary, it’s okay to notice something nice about someone too, but this lesson is all about being emotionally free to “really have at it” and tell your truth. No fear. If the first thing that comes to your mind about a person is negative, SO BE IT; that’s what gets written down. Let the chips fall where they may.
Note: This exercise benefits strongly if you DO NOT read the follow-up questions until after the exercise. Innocence is suggested. If you just MUST read them, at least first do this exercise with eyes closed and imagine yourself in an airport and see who comes by! Take notes!
Ask yourself,What DO I think about innocence?
Did I see any of my problems in these strangers?
What percentage of these people’s problems (and good qualities) do I have-to at least “some” degree? Were ALL my major issues seen in just 100 random passersby? Do I have, like, dozens of HUGE chips-on-my-shoulder, or what?
How do I stop seeing my faults in these airport mirrors?
Can I see anyone truly? Did I see myself truly here?
Did the intensity of my emotion towards the qualities I saw “in” those people indicate the degree to which I am affected by having those qualities?
If I can’t see others truly, then they CAN’T SEE ME EITHER, so how can I translate this fact into a feeling-a feeling of personal freedom from my concerns about what others may “see in” (think of) me?
If I woke up and went about my daily life and suddenly a few hours into the morning I realized that I had not had a single negative thought about anyone or anything, would I be worried?
Extra credit: To really drive this lesson home, take a friend with you, and both of you do this SEPARATELY without commenting to each other. THEN compare notes. Prepare for a shock.