Spinning the Wheel

When another person behaves in a way that triggers our pain, many of us tend to endlessly ruminate about the meaning of the behavior, and the source of its inspiration. Why did s/he say that? Why did s/he do that? Who does s/he think s/he is? How dare s/he? S/he must be a terrible idiot to be capable of saying/doing such a thing. And so on.

Here's the truth: when we focus on the mistakes of the other, we are attempting to relieve ourselves of the burden of suffering. We unconsciously believe that, by solving the puzzle of the failures of some external force, we can exonerate ourselves from our own hurt. But, in fact, when we assign blame and focus on things outside of ourselves, we are turning away from the opportunity to examine the pain that has always been present within us. We are forcing that pain to collect more dust as we continue to deny its reality in a futile quest for control over the uncontrollable nature of life.

If pain were not already present in our cells, held there since the beginning of time, ignored and denied, our personal responses would be very different. For example, if I didn’t see myself as less-than, the words of another would never inspire feelings of worthlessness in me, and fill me with resentment and anger. Those words would fall away like drops of water. The words of another would be just that: words.

It is not the actions of others that inspire our feelings, but rather our beliefs about who we are that do. When we begin to spin our wheels in rumination in response to the moment, we are refusing to look more deeply into our own assumptions about ourselves. These assumptions, based on a history which no longer exists, need not be influential in any way. We can let go of the past, and live fully in the now, by welcoming each individual feeling and giving it its full due, breathing through it, allowing it, and letting it transform us into higher versions of what we once were. We can surrender to the truth by accepting that our pain comes from within, that it has always been there, waiting to be seen and felt. Others only serve as the revealing agents for that pain. They do not cause it, they are not to blame, and lashing out in response to their errors (driven, incidentally, by their own belief systems, rooted in pain and shame) only perpetuates the cycle of suffering in which we are all mired.

We must put down the sword. When chaos enters, and another person behaves in ignorance (i.e., consciously or unconsciously behaves in a way that reflects limiting personal beliefs), we must immediately say yes to the feeling, forgive, and then look within so that we can meet and soothe the conditioning that has triggered our pain. It is this part of the self that requires attention, and not the event that has revealed it. We must ask why WE feel the way we do, not why the other feels and/or acts the way s/he does. We must comfort ourselves, and not attack the other for helping us to look at the jagged edges of the heart that we don't want to see.

When we all learn to do this, there will be nothing left to fear, because we will all have learned to take responsibility for our own actions and emotions. We will embrace unconditional love, because we will no longer believe it’s possible or desirable to erase pain by giving it to someone else. We will find peace.