Owning my hurt
by Christy Sillman
In the 8th grade, the leader of my group of girlfriends informed me that I was no longer allowed to sit with them at lunch. They stated I was “too annoying” to hang out with. What a horrible after-school special moment I experienced and I carried that pain with me for far too long.
My need to please others, perfectionist ideals, and generalized anxiety creates a toxic combination that leads to my thin-skinned nature. The need for approval from others and relying on external forces to create my self-esteem has dulled and clouded my soul.
After I gave birth to my son, I experienced a sensitivity crisis. Every strange look and innocent comment was like a knife to my heart. The guilt and fear was almost too much to bear.
I began reflecting on the origin of my pain and realized how I had been creating a skewed reality for myself. This was an organic practice — brought on by my soul’s need for peace.
Something amazing happened in the process — I began to change.
When an old friend of mine was very hurt by my own inadvertent actions, I got a glimpse into the nature of interpersonal pain. I never intended to hurt my friend, but in hindsight I can see how my actions were insensitive. Despite what now seems obvious, I was completely unaware of the pain I was inflicting. It was only when she sought revenge that I even knew there was a problem. She was angry, sad, and had internalized a projection of me that didn’t really exist.
I’ve hypothesized that the real cause of hurtful behavior lies with one or more of these motives:
– A projection of one’s own internal pain
– Trying to elevate one’s self through the destruction of another
Aside from revenge, most of these motives are not personal. It’s their problem — not yours. Even with revenge, once you’ve determined your responsibility, apologized, and respected their wishes — all further hurtful behavior on their behalf is now their own issue with harboring hurt.
The only person causing pain is the person who accepts it as pain.
So I’ve decided the goal isn’t building a thicker skin or building walls. I like my soul’s heart open and exposed — it makes me the loving person I am. In my search for peace I discovered meditation. I’m learning how to let go of the constant chatter in my brain and how to consciously participate in the beauty of my life. I also began processing hurtful behavior in a new way — the meditative way.
I acknowledge the behavior and how it feels, then introspectively investigate my responsibility — and then
It’s not what other people do or say that hurts you — it’s how you allow yourself to internalize their nastiness.
It sounds so simple and too easy — but simple is good.
I encourage you to explore any hurt you may have experienced, or like I did, hurt you have caused. What were the motives?
Another key component is expectations. Expectation is the house disappointment lives in. I’m trying to lower my expectations — not only of others but also of myself. I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. Doing my best is better than being the best. Changing my view of personal failures into learning opportunities is the best gift I’ve even given myself.
Besides continuing to practice this new meditative hurt-processing method I’m also trying to decrease my hurt footprint. Trying to be mindful of my interactions with others, decrease gossip, and realize that my need to “vent” to others could cause the person I’m venting about harm. Also, venting doesn’t solve problems — calm, direct, and kind discussion with the person who is frustrating you will help solve future issues.
If you choose kindness – kindness will choose you.
It’s very easy to feel like a victim. It’s the easy way out. Even survivors of horrible crimes, people who could justifiably wear the victim crown, find a way to break free from the emotional chains of the crime and DECIDE to stop giving the perpetrator control. It’s hard to decide this — consciously — and to let go of pain, but once you do it’s amazing what’s waiting for you on the other side.
Let. It. Go.