QA169 QUESTION: We’re all concerned with the games that we play with other people. I am concerned with games that people play with themselves. What could be done about these games that we play with ourselves unconsciously?
ANSWER: Well, of course, you’re quite right. That is the primary question, for whatever attitude comes forth to another person is directly dependent on and related to the attitude to the self. It is quite true that even if one is sufficiently aware of the subtlety in which one plays these games with others, it is nevertheless possible that one plays it toward oneself.
Let us take, for example, one of the most current, frequent, universal games played by most of the people in this universe, which is the game of self-pity – the game of “poor little me, how I am unfairly dealt with by the world.” This is the most insidious of all games and it is the most subtle, so easily not recognized.
Now, in answer to your question, it is very possible that a person doesn’t directly overtly do it with other people. But he may do it with himself in the way he feels about things, in the way he responds to certain experiences. Now, what to do is always, of course, to become aware of it.
You become aware of it by first of all considering the possibility that you may do this. Then begin to observe yourself in a detached, dispassionate and understanding way, not harassing yourself by whipping yourself into feeling differently from the way you feel at this moment, but accepting, “This is the way I feel now; I would not like to feel that way, but this is the way I feel now. What is behind it?”
If you have that open attitude toward yourself, it will become possible that you observe yourself in action, as it were. In order to do that, a certain amount of self-discipline and organization is also necessary.
Many years ago I told all of my friends who are on this Path of a very important practice, which I called a daily review. In this practice, you observe yourself every day – perhaps as the day is finished – looking at the day just past and questioning yourself, “What did I feel at this opportunity? What were my reactions? How did I respond to this and that incident?”
These may be subtle little reactions, so subtle and so ingrained that it is easy to overlook them because they have become second nature. But if you have only the slightest feeling of something not quite pleasant, it certainly is a sign that you should look further into it, not gloss over it.
As you do so, you may very often find – I speak generally now, not just specifically to you in this instant – that you play a subtle game with yourself, which, as I said, is so infinitely more important than the games you play with others. For the games you play with others could not be played if you would not do it first of all within yourself toward life.
Now, as you observe yourself, good-naturedly and yet acceptingly – and yet knowing precisely how false, how subtly phony, how damaging and how distorting it is, and how you place thereby the responsibility on others rather than assuming it yourself – you will then come to the second step that is necessary in order to stop it.
And that would be, “How would it be if I could react differently?” Now, first of all, the first step in that phase would be to feel in yourself, to conceive of and experience in yourself, a new way of reacting to a similar situation that would be truly yourself, that would be truly honest, that would not require indulgence of anyone.
This new way would not harbor – as all games do – the forcing current, the whip toward life or a completely unknown or unspecific person: “You must comply with my wishes or else.” All games have the aim to manipulate. Now, when you see wherein lies your aim to manipulate, then you can begin to build up a new concept of behavior within the self.
Begin to visualize yourself, first only in theory, “How would it be?” Conjure up a similar situation as you now observe yourself in so often, and become more aware through these efforts of self-observation. Then you produce the situation in fantasy.
This is the procedure of meditation as I have talked about it for years. This is the reorientation process. This is the process of changing the soul substance, and this is a very important part of it. This is the way. Gradually, a new way of reacting will come spontaneously – not because you force it, which never works.