When Others Let Us Down

 

1333 Relax and Succeed - Human beings are gods hidden from themselves

For some of us it was a cheating spouse. For others, an addicted friend, or a neglectful parent. For some it was a crime, or it may even be abuse by an authority, or an institution. There are many ways to feel the extremely tormented pain of neglect or betrayal. But there are also ways to be free.

It is a deeply poignant thing to move through the rush of feelings we experience when we sense that those around us have let us down. Part of our reality shatters. The whole experience makes more of the universe feel forever less certain and that makes us angry. We don’t feel safe. It makes sense that we resent whoever is associated with our feelings of vulnerability and helplessness.

But our resentment, anger, or need for moral justice rarely pay off. Like the Buddha says, we are not punished for our anger, but by it. Even if we exact revenge, the best that can happen is someone else suffering and any pleasure we get from that is short-lived even if we remain satisfied that justice has been done.

There simply is no going back in time. No matter how important something was, no one can unscramble scrambled eggs. People can’t undo one hour of sex, two years at a bad job, or 18 years of absent parenting. Each of those things and everything else like them are water under the bridge, and the desire for a different history will generate a great deal of anger and regret.

Fortunately, those feelings won’t last, and for fairly logical reasons because the reasons for the feelings make sense. But because they do, it is possible for us to speed up our ‘recovery’ to a potentially positive view of a situation, or even another person– if we’re prepared to.

Firstly, we must accept that our brain has these people or institutions weaved into massive amounts of our lives, and anger is like a jolt of electricity through our system. This means that when we are angry we are likely to grab information from all over life and history to express our outrage. But that’s fine. We can even be totally unreasonable.

The process of fully feeling our emotions isn’t about the perpetrator(s) of the betrayal, it’s about us bleeding off some of our own totally understandable brain chemistry steam in a non-destructive way. We have many compelling and painful thoughts under a lot of pressure.

This is why our pain from these experiences should be fully felt. Rather than pretend we’re okay and then convert four angry days into 20 resentful years, we are better to fully feel the feelings we have. We need not be scared of them. They are there to be felt. And after we’ve felt them, we can get on to empathy.

1333 Relax and Succeed - Empathy when you plant lettuce
We should nurture our understanding of those who we feel have done us wrong.

If we feel badly expressing ourselves honestly we have to remember that it’s society that told us to hold those feelings in, and we’re still recovering from the Victorians and they were scandalized by the word ‘leg’ (you had to use ‘limb.’). We don’t have to go insane or commit crimes or hurt others to let pain out. We just have to find constructive forms of letting off that emotional pressure.

Run, lift weights, listen to thrash metal, go to one of those places where you can pay to smash things. Or maybe just find someone who loves you that will let you rant, or abuse them for a while, on the understanding that you’re going to get proxy angry at them because you can’t yell at the person or institution that hurt you.

People that love us can survive that experience because they are the ones that accept us with our imperfections, just as we do theirs. That’s why we love them. But it’s a very healthy thing to ensure the person understands that we know full well that it is misplaced anger, and that we are grateful to them for helping us.

By doing that we make it much easier for the other person to hear us being unreasonable without taking it personally. If our point is to inflict pain, of course we’ll choose painful things to say. That doesn’t mean the things we say are somehow true. We’re blowing off steam, not doing journalism.

Once the anger has dissipated we can then begin a meditation that will untie the Gordian Knot of anger and blame in our imagination. In reviewing any situation from a less emotional distance, and by meditating on the other person’s context and history, we can often find that what happened makes more sense than what we had hoped would happen.

When we go from being an ego having a personal struggle to a limitless self having a psychological experience, we move from having feelings about a knot of things, to simply cutting through those feelings with understanding

Eventually our meditations on others lives lead us to realize more profoundly that others do not see their role in life as fulfilling all of our expectations. Nor should they. Otherwise we would be doomed to have to do likewise.

This means that, essentially, we feel let down when people fail to meet our expectations by merely being the only people they could be, given their experiences and their awareness. None of us can be someone we aren’t no matter how much we love those around us.

The people that let us down are merely people who are not who we had imagined they were. We can’t blame them for our imagination. Instead, by taking responsibility for our own speculation, we achieve understanding and forgiveness in return. And resentment and anger for understanding and forgiveness is a trade worth making.

peace. s

Gradual Growth

1073-relax-and-succeed-we-can-live-without-religionIsn’t it strange learning something in a non-linear way? I have to do it that way because I’m showing you something that you can’t understand by processing it in the usual way. In fact, that usual way is what causes you all the trouble, so I have to work around it by doing things your logical mind can’t fully understand.

Today’s meditation involves the reason you’ll feel like you have problems and how it often connects to your ideas about time. The brain is decent at storing things, but it’s best dealing with now because in reality that’s the only place you can ever really be or act to change your life. It makes sense that if you have something you want to solve, you need to deal with it around the time that you perceive the problem.

Our focus today is, was that really a problem? Or was it simply a lack of understanding? What is a problem?

Problems are things that we think might cut us off from others. Connection is natural and anything that threatens that is something to be dealt with. So if someone’s mad at you, what does that imply? Your problem is their anger and so you want to explain so you can fix it. Or maybe their problem is that they feel you betrayed them and you want them to understand. Or maybe they want something different than you so you have to explain how they should want what you want.

1073-relax-and-succeed-the-practice-of-forgivenessThink back to three people you’ve been upset with in your lifetime; three people who you now have forgiven despite the fact that they never apologised or maybe even changed. Some little things are fine, but include at least one big thing. Ask yourself what changed between when you were mad and when you let it go? Did they change or did you?

If you look closely, your forgiveness would have come easily once your understanding and empathy increased. Once you either understood the world or yourself better you adjusted your judgments. This is no small thing. This means you can change others by changing yourself.

People are not fixed points in a fixed universe. They look different from every angle, like Earth might from different directions in space. Look at it one way and it’s the Pacific, another and it’s the Himalayas. How you saw others would be like aliens looking at the Himalayas and concluding that the entire planet was a mountain range that reached up over 6,000 meters (20,000 feet). But you need a broader, more well-rounded perspective before you can really say you have even a basic understanding of Earth. The same goes for people.

1073-relax-and-succeed-the-future-is-something-which-everyone-reachesFind your examples. Note your forgiveness and see that it was acceptance. Note how they didn’t change, you did. A change in your perspective changed who they are to you because there is no truth. There is no hallowed ground to stand on. Everything is a perspective. This is about abandoning the desire for certainty to live in the reality of mystery. You think you don’t like mystery, but over time I will prove to you that you really do.

What I do is weird, I know. But if you read the testimonials on my website or talk to people who’ve worked closely with me, they’ll all tell you that they too were lost before they were found. This isn’t linear knowledge, it’s more a congealing of truth. It’s harder to measure, but it’s happening.

Despite the fact that it’s difficult to perceive for you right now, I can guarantee that doing these exercises this week actually changed who you are. Over time those will add up and one day you’ll look in the mirror and you’ll suddenly realise that you’re a different person. And much like understanding others from the distance of time, that’s when you’ll understand what I’m doing now. In the meantime, congratulate yourself on making changes and have a great weekend.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Other Perspectives #91

816 OP Relax and Succeed - Forgiveness is a promise

With all due respect, I would like to draw attention to the difference between an ego’s idea of forgiveness and spiritual forgiveness. An ego’s idea is what’s expressed above. It’s a nice sentiment, it’s certainly not a bad thing if you do it, but it asks someone to do something in the future, which doesn’t exist in the healthiest mindspace. You’re always Now. So much like the post on Setting Limits, you cannot set an expectation of the future without risking adding further suffering to your life. On the other hand you can spiritually forgive someone, which has nothing to do with the other person at all. You’re not doing anything for them. You’re saving yourself by only living Now, which means you are not choosing to think about something painful that happened in some ethereal past. If something did happen again and you look past it out of love and forgiveness again, (in that Now), then you’re truly forgiving. So you might “fail” at forgiving one in ten times if you weren’t in a healthy state of mind. But that didn’t mean you failed at forgiving. You just missed being conscious once. And people can appreciate the effort in a nine-out-of-ten. They might even respect you a bit more if they’re occasionally reminded of how much the event hurt you and that it takes spiritual effort on your part to keep it out of your today. No one can demand your forgiveness. But your voluntary choice to leave painful thoughts in the past is something you are always free to do and it does improve all relationships.

peace, s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

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