There's a simple fact that I've discovered that almost no one really gets. Stated as simply as I can, it goes like this: when ever I experience any kind of pain it is because I am healing.
I can apply this directly to the shin I bumped on my kid's toy box. I bumped my shin, I got a bruise, it hurts and because it hurts my mind knows where to send the healing white blood cells and other chemicals that inspire regrowth and healing.
People don't realize that this simple principal applies to emotional pain as well. When I get hurt emotionally I feel emotional pain. That pain signals my mind to send the healing energies toward that part of me that is hurt. I may feel it in my heart or in the pit of my stomach but really its some ephemeral part of me that is not quite physical and not quite conceptual. Yet it heals via the same exact process.
We are all vulnerable to being wounded. We can all be hurt. That is a simple fact of life and there is nothing we can do about it. We could don armor to protect our bodies and we can don attitudes to protect our emotions, but ultimately things meant to protect us end up preventing us from feeling. Its a vicious trade off which I feel should never be made.
I'm of the philosophy that I should be open and honest, even to the extent that I wear my emotions on my shirt sleeve. If someone turns out to be not trustworthy, I'm not going to protect myself from them, I'm going to push them out of my life. If I can't gently push them away, then I'll simply ignore their behavior, or better yet, face it and stare it down.
It seems foolhardy, huh? But its not. I have found I can put myself "out there" so to speak and have no fear about what may come as long as I'm being honest first and foremost with myself and then with everyone else. As long as I'm honest in my attitudes then people have no ability to hurt me.
I'll give you an example.
I work in Silicon Valley as a Nerd. I'm a bit odd, being an engineer who wears his emotions on his shirtsleeve. Some don't like it, some can't get used to it, some ignore it, and a few respect it.
More than a year ago I found out that the managers of a project to which I had devoted myself had decided that the schedule slipped and the project failed because of me. Clearly that wasn't the case. No single individual is ever at fault for a project that goes south. There had been no intention to tell me this, but one of my coworkers told me about the meeting he sat in where the managers continually blamed me for everything.
Had I not been trained so well by reality I would have gotten very upset. Honestly, I care, and normally the old me would be upset over this. However, because of my experience I realized almost immediately that the managers needed a scape goat because they were incapable of finding the root causes. Its arguable that the project hadn't failed. In fact it was merely late and had no one wanted to buy it. That's not failure, that's bad luck. But they couldn't see that partly because they feared their own failure and partly because they subconsciously saw their own mistakes and couldn't own up to them.
I got that all in a flash of insight and I was able to let it go. I made mistakes. I slipped my schedule, sure, but I wasn't the cause of the failure and placing blame on me or anyone else was not going to do anyone any good.
How was it that I was able to grow to the extent that I wasn't bothered by these people's opinions of me? I still cared. I still wanted to learn and grow and do better, but I wasn't upset by the fact that I had become the project scape goat. How?
Quite simply I had previously healed of all emotional pain. There was no more parts of me that were wounded for them to pour salt on.
I have to take a step back now and talk more about childhood. The other day I talked about how we are all three and a half years old. What I didn't say is why we are all three and a half years old and why we don't grow up.
We are three and a half because we are hurt when we are babies and at the age of three and a half we choose to stop aging to stop feeling the hurt that we were given as infants and babies. There is a certain amount of genetic vulnerability. Being born hurts like hell and unless our mother knows how to deal with their pain then how can we as newborns deal with our own? All our repression starts then, on day one. I honestly believe that's one of the things the bible means when it uses the term, "original sin."
Teething hurts too and if our mothers, fathers, siblings, grand parents, etc are not compassionate toward us when we cry out in pain then how can we be expected to be compassionate to ourselves, let alone others. Our parents try to medicate us with Anbesol, Tylenol, or they try to medicate themselves with Alcohol, Sex, Drugs, etc etc etc. If they react to their own pain (inspired by our crying) then how can we do any better?
We can't. We are at the mercy of our biological and sociological situation.
As children we cannot rise above the pain by feeling compassion and love for ourselves unless we have a mother and family who does that for us first. I have never met someone that loving and aware. Have you? Even if our mother's were perfect, there's still that genetic inheritance we have to get used to.
We stop aging at three and a half because our three and a half year old parents stopped aging at three and a half. Their coping mechanisms are all based on those of their three and a half year old parents. Restated: we can't be more mature than three and a half because we have no examples of that maturity and facing pain to grow beyond it is hard. Its much easier to distract ourselves from it, or repress it, than to face it. We learn to cope because we don't know any better.
We have no chance to be any different. Its just a fact of being human. That's life.
I'm three and a half too. I've always been three and a half, but at least I know it. Knowing enabled me to find compassion for myself when I was emotionally hurt.
Isn't it odd, when we're physically hurt as small children we make a big deal out of it. "Mommy! I got a Boo-ey!" we shout. Mommy kisses it and makes it feel better. As adults we pay little attention to the nicks and bruises we get. But if we get emotionally hurt, what do we do as adults? "MOOOMMMMY! I GOT A BOOO-EY!" We're still three and a half. Can you see it? Mommy might be our wife or lover, or our best friend or even our mother, but we all go running to someone else to show them our booey and get them to kiss it and make it better. Ironically we generally only open ourselves to being hurt by those who we put in the role of mommy.
For some, running to a mommy figure is enough to let go. They brush themselves off, stand up and march forward in their lives. For me though it wasn't good enough. I fell down in a relationship, got hurt and crawled to friends and family, but didn't feel any better.
Some of us are trained or genetically inclined to not feel better. We wallow in despair. "How could she do this?" we ask. "What did I do to deserve this?"
We seek answers to unanswerable questions and we feel that until we know, we can't heal.
That of course is ridiculous. We heal automatically. The only way we won't heal is if we won't let ourselves heal or if we happen to re injure ourselves by reliving the hurts from our pasts. We've all seen that. Heck most of us have done that.
Is this starting to come together for you? The key to not being hurt is allowing yourself to heal. The first hurts happen when we can't prevent them, when we are small and defenseless. We are hurt by people who love us but aren't mature enough to know that they are hurting us. We are hurt by three and a half year olds who never matured. We have to leave all that stuff in our past and only face it when we feel it hurting. Most importantly: when we feel the pain we have to stop thinking about it. Thinking about feelings is roughly equivalent to sanding about painting. All it does is hurt us more to think about our pain. Its better to just experience the pain and let it do its job: heal us and help us grow beyond the age of three and a half.
Causes Brian McKee Supports
I support the cause of peace via peaceful means.