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Faults Are Like Poop

Recently, I was talking to my mentor about some conflicts I had with people. Essentially, they think I'm wrong, and I think they're wrong.

Being the wise person that he is, my mentor didn't side with anybody. Instead, he said,

"Faults are like poop. When it's your own, you don't care. But when you see other people's, you're absolutely appalled. Isn't that hypocritical?"

Icon Sources: 1, 2

I understood his analogy and stopped complaining. Indeed, instead of arguing who's right, the conflict would be easily dissolved if I simply tolerated the other person's faults. After all, we all have faults and bad habits. If we could tolerate others' faults the same way we tolerate our own faults, then there'd be no conflict!

This isn't to say that their behavior doesn't need improvement, but I should focus on improving myself first because that's in my control, and only when I improve myself do I have the right to ask others to improve. Moreover, using a blaming attitude towards others just makes things worse. If we can tolerate and accept them for where they're at, then we can approach them with patience, tolerance, and encouragement.

As I reflected on this analogy more, I found other similarities between faults and poop. For example, some people have very negative and critical self-talk. If a person talks to oneself harshly, then she will probably talk to others harshly as well. I certainly have had this experience, and I've had to work on my self-talk to become more positive, loving, and respectful. We can remember the poop analogy again. No one scolds themselves saying, "What's wrong with you! You pooped again!" or "You're such a horrible person for needing to poop every single day!" or "Wow, your poop is so stinky. You're such a failure."

Similarly, we shouldn't scold ourselves every time we make a mistake. We should encourage ourselves the way we would encourage a little kid learning to walk: with a loving tone and strong belief. We can tell ourselves, "Making mistakes is a normal part of being human and a natural part of the learning process. The important thing is that I learn from my mistakes. I should judge myself based on my ability to correct my mistakes quickly as opposed to not making mistakes. I can definitely do better next time!"

Another way faults are like poop is that we shouldn't hold on to them. If we have lots of faults, others will avoid us as if we smell like poop. If we keep holding on to our poop, it will hurt us. Similarly, if we don't eliminate our faults, whether it be anger, laziness, arrogance, or carelessness, those faults will keep hurting us. Unfortunately, a lot of us have gotten used to "fault constipation", so eliminating mistakes doesn't come as naturally to us as eliminating poop; it's something we have to consciously work on.

To continue this analogy even further, both faults and poop ought to be studied. Studying our poop gives us clues about our digestion, which is why doctors ask us about our poop! Similarly, our faults and mistakes give us clues about our mental and emotional health because all mistakes stem from the mind. If we can study our faults and mistakes and correct them, then we will become better people.

An important principle in medicine is to treat the root cause as opposed to the symptom. For example, if a person has constipation, eating laxatives is treating the symptom. As soon as you stop eating those pills, the constipation returns. Oftentimes, the root is in the person's diet. Perhaps if the person ate more fiber in their daily diet, the constipation might go away. That's thinking in terms of the root as opposed to the symptoms.

The same is true for studying our faults. The bad action we do is the symptom, but the root of the problem is in our mind and deep inner beliefs. For example, I have a bad habit of complaining. The act of complaining is the surface-level result, but the cause is in my mind. My mind is too entitled and arrogant; I believe that everyone should think like me. Hence, I can fix the root by changing my thoughts.

Instead of telling myself, "What! This person is so unreasonable!" I change my thoughts to, "No one tries to be stupid or bad on purpose. Everyone is doing what they think is right, or they are acting out of habit. Either case, I shouldn't be judgmental towards them because I am the same."

This is just one example of getting to the root of a fault. Everyone has different faults and bad habits, and we all need to find the root of our problems. After we figure out the root problem, we'll have to undergo a period of training to unlearn an old thinking pattern and learn a new thinking pattern. I previously wrote about my 21-Day No Complaint Challenge, which was a great kickstart to my training. But even now, I still catch myself complaining, so we need to persist for a long time to change an old habit. Even though it's hard work, it's certainly better than being full of poop/faults!

These are just some of my realizations from the fault-poop analogy. The next time you get annoyed at somebody's fault or problem, try to treat them the same way you would treat yourself when you see your own poop. And of course, we all need to work on eliminating our poop and faults!


Weekly Wisdom #252


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