Monday, March 29, 2010

A Little Piece O' Inner Work

A paragraph from a most excellent blog post from Svasti has stuck with me:

"For example, I was eventually able to see how some angry guy using me as a punching bag was not in any way personal. It just so happened that I was there and he was reacting to his own experience of reality and chose to get violent. Actually, it had nothing to do with me at all!"

At first I noticed that I kept thinking about it, and telling myself that I should post a comment on the post. Generally, I had thought that I understood the concept that when someone acts out towards someone else it is usually about something going on with the person acting out, and actually has little to do with the person acted upon.

Then, over the next few days the concept weaved its way through my apparatus of understanding, and into my heart, I think, because I found myself really seeing this in someone in my life who has "hurt me". I have been hurt by this person, this is true. What is in question is whether this person was doing something with the purpose of hurting me. Probably not.

That's the thing about intimate relationships: they go deep. Whether it is a romantic, parent-child, or close friendship we can look to these connections to fuel ourselves and help our self esteem in ways that are often not conscious. So when the one we are depending on looses control and lashes out with abuse, verbal or physical, it cuts deep.

So over the last few days I have really seen how an important relationship affected me, and what was going on. I was deeply hurt. So much that we are not in relationship now. And I was so hurt that I couldn't see it clearly.

It might sound too clean, or too cliche, but I am able to see into this situation, and see that this person was truly working within their own framework when they where saying and doing the things that hurt me. They weren't seeing me at all! Which seems nuts when it is assumed that when people have a bond that they are close, or know each other. That is too much of an assumption.

To try to stay in relationship with this person, I told myself some hurtful things. And ignored some bad behaviors. I did all of this because I wanted to be loved.

I feel empowered by this understanding because it means that I don't have to lie to myself any more. I can build myself from where I am. I am not dependent on the approval of someone who is incapable of seeing me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


KB said...

Thanks for such a wonderful and insightful post. You have really made me think...about relationships and understanding other people...and myself.
I read somewhere that 'Compassion' consists of three things - Acceptance, Understanding, and Forgiveness. Not just applying that to other people, but to myself as well.

Anonymous said...

Hey Brooks, wow! I really like this kind of cross-blog dialog that happens every now and then between blogs. It's mutual as you know, because some of your posts have definitely inspired me. And already I can tell that this post right here will inspire at least one or two new ones. :D

Everything you've written here is I suspect, quite universal. You've explained very well the dynamics that go on between two people when disagreements arise and feelings become hurt.

I myself could have written most of what you've posted here, although perhaps not quite as elegantly!

In the Zen work I've been doing recently, I've begun to understand with my heart (not just my mind) how it is that "no one can ever really hurt you or make you angry or sad or [insert emotion/reaction]". And I've been meaning to write some of that stuff up, so thank you for the reminder.

I'd like to add to what you've written here though, by saying that when we fall out with someone, I don't think that makes either person "bad" or "wrong". Instead I think one or both people (usually both) are caught up in the dynamic you've described here.

Although I know it might not be possible, I tend to hope that many of those misunderstandings can be resolved some day. Perhaps I'm just overly optimistic? But I'd like to think we can all come to this kind of understanding some time, because I think it's only from this place that real forgiveness and change are possible.

Svasti xo

Anonymous said...

Yes, Brooks, exactly, and Svasti's writings about this have been amazing.

I'd like to add, though, that a child-parent relationship is by its nature very, very different, in that the child's life literally depends on the parent. It's a unique situation compared to a woman and her husband. That woman may FEEL like her life is dependent upon that man, but she COULD get up, leave, feed herself, etc.

Very different.

Also, sometimes I think the intent of the other person just doesn't matter. People sometimes CAUSE us pain and it's okay to hold them accountable. My face is still the one being punched, for example, even if it's because the abuser is working out his own issues...

Kaivalya said...

This post really struck a chord with me - I put it aside so I could read it twice. Thanks for writing it.

It's A Yoga Thang said...

Thanks for this! My teacher once told me that people who mistreat another person usually do not have the merit to truly "see" the person they are hurting. This has been my experience over the past two years and what you wrote here is exactly the view that has helped me heal. OX

Emma said...

someone once told me that anger is about feeling like someone should know something that you already know. for example, im mad at you for not washing the dishes. i knew they needed to get done, but you did not have that same knowledge. i might not be describing it as well as id like, but it really resonated with me at the time.

Claudia said...

Hmm, yes, great insight, so many times being angry is just a call for taking responsibility and action for what we feel, well put.