You can strengthen your emotional power as you practice compassion. It’s not easy, but it’s freeing.
Let’s start by defining what makes a person or entity an enemy. We assign them that label. And when I impart that we have the control, some seem to take the implication that this means we are the ass because we prolong the pain and the venom.
This is a wrong assumption.
I am not saying, well, you are causing this ongoing cycle of obsessive hatred…but that is the reality, isn’t it? I am saying, realize you are in control and you get to decide your course of action (one of my faves is to DO NOTHING) but because you are steering the boat, you are in charge of the suffering you allow.
That’s an iron-clad position of power.
That’s true empowerment. That is taming your emotions to work for you.
But better. To build compassion.
We have the opportunity to realize, honor and practice compassion when we are faced with the worst and most offensive behavior of humanity.
Our first reaction is to understandably take offense and want to protect ourselves. This is one of the strongest emotional tidal waves that can influence your behavior.
So…feel it. But try not to say anything. If you retort or respond, you influence the dynamic of the interaction. When you contribute nothing to what you know will be a useless fight, then the actions of the other remain in the light. Because you have not used your tongue or body language to make it worse.
You don’t want to deny yourself the right to work through any emotions. The way our bodies receives information is instinctual, so seriously, I just allow it to happen. If I need to, I try to use the time while I am not reacting to calm down.
Not engaging has saved me so much pain and adrenaline coursing through my body. It has kept my health in better check and given me more peace. I like myself better when I don’t get all tangled up and nasty.
It takes a long time for wounds to heal. And it seems like we get the physical part of healing confused with the emotional part of healing. A punch to the face resulting in a black eye will heal far faster than someone who has clawed at your very soul.
Every time we take an action or say something in relation to this conflict, we reopen the wound. Holy moly, I did that for years.
Now, I realize I have a choice and with it came four realizations:
- Conflict is normal.
- Conflict is not something to be afraid of (I still use self-soothing mantras to reinforce this.)
- A perfectly acceptable response is not to say or do anything.
- I can up the ante on no. 3, and in addition, meditate on what suffering is plaguing my enemy.
This new realization came about when I read the book The Shack. It’s not that I hadn’t heard of the concept and power of forgiveness, but I was stuck. I wanted to forgive, but I wouldn’t allow myself. Some part of me still hadn’t gotten what I thought I had coming and I wanted to stick around and feel miserable in the conflict because it made me feel important.
That is absolutely the wrong reason to prolong pain. What professionals call negative reinforcement.
I bawled when I read The Shack. Cried as silently as I could as I then watched the movie sitting next to my husband who was sleeping. I literally went through a half a box of tissues one late night.
I said, “I forgive you, (insert name.)” And I let it roar in my heart. I could nearly feel the stitching of the needle and thread sewing me back together. Then I wept. Because I had acknowledged I had been hurt by recognizing a need to forgive, I had to finally weep. I had to mourn my pain a few final times. Hence, the half a box of tissues and on it went for a couple more days. I was tender.
But the light came on.
I could see people lashing out because of their own pain.
Because of fear (anger is a poor disguise for fear.)
Because of sadness and hurt.
I started sending them love instead of raw fury. I started taking myself out of their picture (how presumptuous of me, anyway!) and seeing that they alone, hold their memories and their misery regardless of my existence. Disentangling my emotional weight with theirs, allowed me to rise out of the agony I had dwelt in for so long.
Let me tell you…
- Someone else’s addiction is not your issue.
- Someone else’s inabilty to manage their anger is not your problem to solve
- Someone else’s pain impasses aren’t yours.
- Their judgment is not your burden.
- Their fear is not your battle.
- Their self-loathing and obstacles are not your job to remove.
You are in a better place when you can compartmentalize suffering. You are objective and can retain your own health.
And when you can, you can start to wish for the pain of other’s to lift for them.
Such pain is a terrible load to carry. Aren’t you lucky you aren’t hauling that around?
I have flipped the script on hatred and now, I send loving messages on the wind…
I wish you well.
I wish you to love yourself.
I wish you success.
I wish you joy.
I wish you to stop blaming yourself.
I wish you to see yourself for your amazing gifts.
I wish you to know it’s not too late.
I wish you would see no one is as hard on you as you are on yourself.
Selfishly? You will feel so much better about yourself, striving to reach the pinnacle of being the best person you can be, filling your heart with what makes you feel wonderful…doing good and spreading warm echoes of your heart around.
It is so helpful to remember a huge percentage of the time that a person’s reactions and words have nothing to do with you. There are outside and inside influences of which you are not aware.
It took me decades to get here. I hope this article will give you a little jump start so you don’t have to wait so long to plant the buds of inner peace.
Original article appeared at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission.