We were teaching a week retreat in an old vicarage in the countryside of County Wicklow, Ireland. A beautiful place, yet many of the participants had difficulties they were working with. In particular, Helen told us she had a very critical, angry boss—Mary, who would walk in each day and immediately begin to find fault with everything Helen did: the way she was dressed, the way her hair was, she was always late (which she wasn't) and so on. Helen was becoming a nervous wreck, feeling inadequate and shameful, as well as developing a real bitterness toward her boss. She wanted to leave, but jobs were hard to find in her area.
At the retreat, we taught Helen how to develop greater objectivity toward Mary. We reversed roles so Helen could see she was actually being very self-centered, as many people are, by presuming it was all about her. She had immediately assumed she must have done something wrong, as Mary did not seem to like her. She was then able to see that, instead, Mary might be unhappy or facing her own problems and taking it out on Helen.
Why it's important to think about people other than yourself