I was talking with a friend early this morning about the art of holding one’s tongue and not giving into the impulse to defend, or attack (which A Course in Miracles is quick to remind us are one and the same).

The impulse to “be cruel” or give into our ego reminds me of Aesop’s Fable about the dog who got the meaty bone. While crossing the bridge to take it home, he saw his reflection in the river.

Angry that there was “another dog out there with a big bone,” the dog glared menacingly, then he growled at the other dog, and then he opened his mouth and barked. The minute he opened his mouth to deliver his “cruel” message, he dropped the bone into the river, where the current promptly swept it away.

Instead of feeling better about having told the other dog (his own reflection) “what for,” the dog felt worse, because he lost what he valued most at the time. He was afraid there was “not enough” bones to go around. And in his lashing out, he made it true for himself.

Why does being cruel to someone else with an unkind word or action or even thought make us feel worse instead of better?

What’s the true cost to us?

Like to dog in the story, others who we lash out at are simply our mirrors. They reflect what we believe about ourselves. Because there’s only one of us here, when we lash out at another, even in our minds, we’re really lashing out at a reflection of ourselves – an extension or mirror image of ourselves.

Psychologically, we want an angry reaction from another. We want someone else to be mean to us. That gives us permission to respond or reinforce our own belief that we are whatever the “other” is naming us. We want them to reflect back to us what we deep down believe about ourselves.

That’s why it’s so important to uncover and heal those deep core beliefs. Do you want peace on earth? Be the peace you want to see – in every moment. And when you can’t do it in the moment, give yourself a mulligan, a do-over, erasies, whatever you want to call it.

Do you want to remember that there’s always enough for everyone, an absolute abundance at all times, then stop lashing out at those you perceive as “having more” than you. It only reflects back to you your belief that you don’t have enough.

Choose to NOT engage in a conflict. Choose to simply acknowledge the other person and release your desire to defend or attack. Then take it one step further and choose to extend kindness to that person instead. It will transform your day in an instant.