I heard a mother the other day getting frustrated with her toddler and then she said a phrase that got me thinking. I am sure you know the saying – “you aren’t the centre of the universe.”
I have heard this many times over the years, and in many variations. “It isn’t all about you.” or “You aren’t that important.” And while I can understand the principle being conveyed, it seems to me that the people using those sentences are missing a bigger point.
You see I am the centre of my universe. I do matter. And my world is all about me. But only from my point of view. You are also the centre of your universe, and your world is all about you.
I knew an old man who used to say – there are only two kinds of people in the world. Me and everyone that loves me. It was said as a joke after a few drinks – but the core of what he was saying is true. Our story and our focus is the only thing inside our heads. We cannot ever have anyone else’s thoughts in our head (sorry to all that believe otherwise!).
The reality is that once I cease to exist – you all cease to exist in my world. When I go – well there goes everything. When my story ends, my life ends, then everything all around just does the big fade to black. Not even any credits rolling up as people shuffle out of my theatre.
Now I am sure some of you are sitting there going – “Oh boy what a self-centred ass!” Well that isn’t really what I am saying and advocating. My story and my world may be all about me – but I can still show kindness and consideration to those around me. In my mind true empathy is achieved when I realize that all I can know, and all I can experience is what goes on inside me – just like for everyone else! I can only know what I know. You can only know what you know. When we each understand how limited our own view of the entire world and universe is – then we can finally actually listen to each other.
That frustrated mom with her demanding toddler needs to step back and think what her toddler’s world is like. Food, clothing, warmth, love, toys, entertainment and just about everything is delivered on demand with minimal effort. To that toddler he really is the centre of the universe – and mom? Well she is the gateway! In the toddler’s mind he is thinking “I have a need – fulfill me now!”
Mom doesn’t need to tell the toddler he isn’t important – instead she needs to teach him patience. That toddler is the centre of his universe living in his own story – and well he is just going to have to get used to waiting now and then.
Even if I am the centre of my universe and the hero of my own story – I do still have to wait for the sun to rise, the moon to set, and for my turn on the merry-go-round. Along with everyone else.