“You hate most in others what you hate most in yourself,” Mr. Baxter said, as he looked around my seventh-grade class. Then he focused his gaze on one of my fellow students in particular. She knew those words were meant for her.
I saw her tense up. She did not take his words kindly.
Why? Because instead of allowing for her to judge another pupil with impunity, Mr. Baxter turned the tables and pushed her into a moment of honest (and most likely scathing) self-reflection.
You hate most in others what you hate most in yourself. Ouch.
I don’t quite remember what it was that my classmate was upset about, or what aspect of her personality Mr. Baxter’s words called her to give consideration to, but for me, the quote stuck. In fact, it has become a kind of “life axiom.”
Legitimate self-reflection can be hard. It can hurt. It can burn our egos and slight our psyches. In the end, however, using axioms like Mr. Baxter’s can help us have a principled view of ourselves and a more grace-filled view of the world.