How People Treat You

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By Gabriel Gonsalves

Personal mastery, leadership development, and spiritual growth with the heart in mind. 

“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours. With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.”

Wayne W. Dyer

Years ago, when I was studying acting in Los Angeles, my acting coach would repeatedly tell us that we shouldn’t judge the characters we played if we wanted to be good actors. “The moment you judge your character, you lose your identity and connection with them,” she would say. The same applies to the people, events, and situations of our lives.  

Every time you judge someone because they are not acting the way you want or expect them to, you create separation between you and them. Whenever you judge another person, you lock them up in an imaginary jail inside your mind. And in doing so, you lock yourself in with them.

Imagine buying a juicy red apple from your favorite grocery store. Anticipating its delicious sweet taste, you take your first bite only to discover a little worm crawling inside. What thoughts go through your mind? What feeling do you get? The moment you judge the worm as harmful, undesirable, or bad, you keep yourself from seeing the bigger reality: the worm is eating the apple because that’s just what worms do. 

Similarly, people do what they do because that’s just what they do. People do what they do because that’s who they are or how they’ve learned to cope with people, events, and situations in their lives. Like the little worm, they are doing their best to survive, feel happy, and avoid conflict or pain. 

How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours. 

We live in a coherent universe where everything is interconnected. Everything we do, think, or feel affects the whole, and the totality, in return, affects us all. Nothing, absolutely nothing, goes unnoticed. Every action – this is what the word karma means – sets into motion a process we will ultimately be held accountable for.

Whatever others have done to you, either out of their own fear, anger, pride, guilt, shame, or ignorance, is ultimately their karma. Whatever they did, the same will be done unto them. This is what is typically referred to as Divine Justice. And Divine Justice is not your responsibility. You are responsible for how you respond to what others have done to you. Because how you respond to others is how life will respond back to you.

Choosing How to Respond

The moment you release your judgments of others by releasing your expectations, thoughts, and opinions about them, you liberate them from the imaginary prison in your mind. You set them free. And in doing so, you set yourself free.

You set yourself free and are now able to consciously choose to respond from your heart or that more loving, compassionate or kinder aspect within yourself. This is the beginning of personal karmic responsibility and an important Emotional Self-Mastery skill to have.

As you sit with the emotional discomfort or pain brought up by another person’s action or inaction, breath deeply into your heart and give yourself permission to feel the emotion deeply until it has run its course. Do this until you begin to feel neutral about the whole situation. Once you’re in the space of neutrality, it’s much easier to shift your perspective.

Then, make the conscious choice to see this person or situation as a gift from life, that there’s a greater lesson to be learned or something more profound in you needing to be healed.

From a much more neutral, appreciative space, ask yourself…

  1. Given what just happened, what would I like to create instead?
  2. What would be the most loving, compassionate, or assertive way to respond?
  3. What is this person or situation teaching me about myself? What are they helping me heal?
  4. In what ways am I being asked to grow, change or be different?
  5. What positive karma would I like to create instead?

The answers you receive will liberate you from any negative karma you could create and set the other person free.

We either pay a karmic price for each action or receive a karmic reward. That’s the universal rule. No exceptions. In this return to sender universe, how other people treat you is their karma and how you react is yours. 

Now that I’ve reminded you of this let me ask you…

Is there someone you’ve been holding a prisoner in a cell inside your mind? If so, don’t you think it’s time to let them go? If not for them, will you at least do it for you? So that you can be free?

From my heart to yours,