When we speak to someone or we are spoken to, we assign value. We don’t just assign value to what is said or how it is said, but also who says it. If an elderly stranger smiles kindly and tells a young girl that she is beautiful, the girl will smile and say “thank you.” But she will not take it to heart. She will instead interpret the conversation as the man being kind. She will not take the compliment into herself. But say a boy just a year older than her says the exact same thing in the exact same way. He may not even have interest in her but just wants to honestly lift her spirits by the truth. But the girl will interpret the conversation as “he must like me, at least a little.” She may not be interested in him, but the compliment will make her feel beautiful.

Or suppose the girl’s mother says the exact thing in the exact way. The girl will take it as her mother being motherly. She will not experience it as truth. Another situation may be that the boy she has a crush on tells her the same thing in the same way. She will interpret this as a good omen to pursue a relationship with him. But if she has been with a boy for many months and he has said the same thing over and over, she will not believe it as much. It is something that boyfriends say. Or if she catches him cheating of her, she won’t believe the truth of her beauty at all. If she is beautiful, why did he stray? And so the situations keep changing her perspective.

What is happening here? Why does she not experience the truth of her beauty in each situation? She is getting in the way of the truth. She has already assigned value to other people’s words and actions based on assumptions and/or previous experience. 

Don’t we all do this? At one point of our day, a text from a friend lights up our eyes because we are bored and perhaps slightly lonely. The sound of the text makes us hopeful and we seek happiness in having someone to talk to. At another point in the day, when we are frustrated and stressed out, the same ding on our phone will increase our aggregation. We do not wish to speak to anyone. Why does everyone always want just a little more of our time?

When we are ignorant of how we are our biggest hindrances, we suffer. Others suffer as a result of this at times. But if we can be mindful of ourselves, then we can see more clearly the way to approach life.