The “Coat and Shirt” Approach to Life
“If some steals your coat, offer them your shirt, as well.” –Jesus (analyzed by Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth)
2 Lessons came to mind after hearing these words:
1. Non-Attachment – being able to let go. Having no attachment to situations or things.
2. Non-reaction. The coat and shirt are a metaphor. What is explained is not reacting with anger, or another negative emotion to the person who “stole your shirt.” This can be in any area of life. By not reacting to an external factor we maintain an level head, and can act or communicate properly with someone in a difficult situation.
Eckhart Tolle, talks about this in his book, “A New Earth.” What we react to in others strengthens in our selves. If someone acts malicious towards you, many people react in the same manor, and bite back at the perpetrator. You then allow their energy to become part of yours. Their malicious attitude transferred to you. It became strengthened within you. You let them win, by getting the reaction from you. It fed their energy, and plagued you emotional and mental state at that moment, and maybe for a continued amount of time.
When you practice non-reaction, the situation will dissolve, and then resolve it self on its own. Or you may realize that it wasn’t all that important to begin with. An example of this could be an argument with someone. If you let them speak, complain, etc., and practice non-reaction, you’ll dissolve their negative emotion. And once they see there is no reaction in you, they will stop their attack, or come to realize their complaining was futile.
Don’t let the person who stole your coat also steal your positive energy and replace it with negative, resentful energy.
Instead, let him have your shirt as well. Don’t have an attachment to the metaphorical “shirt and coat.”
My good friend Mat, shared a cool phrase over dinner, that relates:
“Resentment is like drinking poison yourself, and thinking it’s going to do harm to your adversary.”
Being resentful over the “shirt, and coat,” in whatever the issue is, will not solve anything. It will not make things better.
Let go of telling someone they are wrong.
Let go of having to be right.
Let go of being the tough guy.
Let go of grudges.
Let go of how someone is wronged you.
Let go of it being unfair. Whatever it is.
Let go of justifying your story.
Let go of blaming others.
Let go of resentment.