Hurt as an access to the possibility of humanity, connection and contribution


Through the news I am aware of the destruction being reaped by Hurricane Sandy.  Where there is destruction there tends to be hurt – people who are hurt and hurting.

We hurt.  We hurt in the sense of experiencing physical pain like that of a twisted ankle. We hurt as in the sense of experiencing emotional pain when it occurs to us that we are looked down upon, excluded, lost a loved one……  We hurt, that is simply what is so and goes along with being human.

What is our default setting towards hurt?  

We do not like to hurt.  I say our idea of the perfect life is life without hurt.   So we go to great lengths to avoid being hurt: we want to survive AND not be hurt.  We want to insulate ourselves from hurt.  Furthermore, we do not see any value in being hurt – hurt shows up for us as purely negative.

Is hurt purely negative?  

Is hurt purely negative?  Is that the way it has to be?  Do we have any choice in the matter of how we act towards and use hurt?  I say that we do. I say that there is another way to be with, and stand in relation to hurt.

I say that hurt can be the access to the possibility of humanity, of connection to our fellow human beings, and of contributing to a world that works.  I got present to this possibility yesterday, let me recount what happened.

Yesterday, reluctantly, I told my eldest son that I would not be able to go with him (today) to see the latest Bond film that he was eagerly waiting to see with me.  He got that I am ill and not in a position to go.

Later, my wife told me that this son of ours (17 years old) had agreed to accompany our youngest (daughter) on her ‘trick and treating’ rounds on Halloween (today).  That showed up as shock for me as the two of them do not get along well. And my oldest does not show up as someone who is into ‘trick and treating’.  Why did my eldest agree?

Hurt.  My wife told me that when she told him that our daughter had no-one else then my eldest agreed to accompany his sister.  Why?  Because he knows the experience of being alone.  He knows the experience of being excluded.  His experience of his later school years was that of being alone, being excluded, being without reliable friends.   Given being present to that experience he could empathise with his sister (humanity), seek her out and tell her that he will take her ‘trick/treating’ (connection and contribution).

I took a look at my life. The hurt of being called a “Paki” and being spat upon (at school) left me with a lived understanding of the impact of intolerance.  And it allowed me to be a stand for tolerance towards my fellow human beings.  To this day, I am proud of the fact that a fellow student and friend chose me as the first person to share his secret – that of being gay.  When I asked him why he chose me?  He told me that he knew I would continue to be his friend and accept him.  I remember the hurt that goes along with being small/powerless and being made to do whatever the authority figures (especially my father) wanted me to do irrespective of my needs, my feeling, me desires for my life.  And this experience of hurt enabled me to experience the hurt of my fellow human beings and thus be a stand for human dignity and freedom.  Which kind of explains why I chose not to have an arranged marriage.  Why I am a life member of Anti-Slavery. Why I placed my children in Montessori education and have encouraged them to speak their minds from the time they were born….. And why I strive to treat my fellow human beings as equals.  Do I always ‘get it right’?  No.  Am I a stand for tolerance-freedom-fairness-equality?  Yes.

Hurt as access to possibility and transformation

Hurt is hurt.  And to be in the world it to live at risk and that includes the risk of being hurt.  That is simply what is so.  What is also so is that our stance towards hurt – how we interpret it, how we use it – is not given.  We have a say in the matter of how we stand in relation to hurt.  You and I can use our hurt and the hurt of our fellow human beings to reach out and connect with one another and be a source of contribution to one another.

Which brings me back to Hurricane Sandy.  I hope that we as human beings will reach out and connect with those of us who are hurting right now in the USA. And I hope that those who are experiencing hurt in the USA will reach out, connect and be a source of contribution who live outside of the USA and are hurting.  You can say that I am a dreamer!

And finally when we use our hurt to put our humanity into the game of life, to connect to our fellow human beings and to be a source of contribution we transform our relationship / orientation / experience towards our own hurt.   Put differently, We can recontextualise our hurt: give it a new meaning, see it in a new light, even see it as a positive.  Perhaps, even something that we would not choose to change even if we were given the opportunity to change it.

 

You are the cause of your suffering / are you running a ‘racket’? (Part III)


This post continues the conversation that commenced earlier and which you can find below:

How can you be about/deal with ‘tiredness’ and ‘hopelessness’? (part I)

You are neither the thoughts nor the feelings that show up (part II)

Let’s get present to where your are at (or were at)

“I tend to always fall for men that are dominant and players. It is difficult for me to be attracted to someone who is less witty and dominant, as I have a strong character. Although I know that it will always lead to hurt and abandonment, am like a moth to a flame.

This is one aspect of your life that you shared with me. You also shared the following with me:

  • “I guess I am feeling the loss of physical intimacy, someone to just be there to hold me when I’m feeling lost and alone.”
  • “Tired of searching for ‘the one’ to be my life companion – whilst desperately longing for one.”

You are the cause of your suffering and you can give it up this instant

There is what you want to be so. There is what is so. There is a difference between what you ‘want to be so’ and ‘what is so’. This difference shows up as ‘painful’ – an issue to be dealt with / a problem to be solved. And you are probably telling yourself that once you have solved this one, met the ‘one’ your life will work out and you will live happily ever after.

Do you notice something interesting? There is no ‘issue’ no ‘problem’ in the world as it is. You are generating this ‘issue’, this ‘problem’, this ‘upset’ and the suffering that goes with it. Let me be plain: YOU are the cause of your own suffering! And you can choose to not suffer – you can do that right now. Let’s take a look at this in more detail:

You have bought into and are living out of a myth. Here is how it goes: I can only be happy if/when I find the ‘one’; the ‘one’ is out there; once I find the ‘one’ or he finds me then all will be great and I will live happily ever after. I know many people who have found the ‘one’ and then found out, later, that life has not worked out and bliss is not ever present. I know of people who have found the ‘one’ only to lose the ‘one’ through death – and they are left grappling with that. I know of people who have found the ‘one’ and then the ‘one’ has cheated and/or left them for another – and these people are left grappling with that. What if you let go of this myth? What if you let go of putting conditions on happiness? What if you choose to be with the fact that right now the ‘one’ is not in your life and you choose to put happiness into your life? Notice that when you put these conditions onto life you are constructing your own prison.

“I know that it will always lead to hurt and abandonment”. Is this so? Let’s take a look at hurt, specifically how you (and I) create hurt. Notice that hurt arises in relation to people and pets. How does it come about? We create and live out of expectations around people – especially those who we are close to / those close to us. We may or may not share these expectations with them. They may or may not agree to our expectations. When the expectations are not met what shows up? Hurt. The bigger the gap between the demands we place on people (whether communicated or not) and what we get/do not get from these people the bigger the hurt. If you and I genuinely want to be free from hurt then we can do that right now: give up any and all expectations of people. You can even go further and ‘expect’ that every single person will act to get what he/she wants out of life – to act ‘selfishly’. Don’t you do the same? So what is the big deal when others do the same as you, same as me? If you practice this you will notice that there is no space for ‘abandonment’ in your life. ‘Abandonment’ is a function of making demands on people, on life, that life does not fulfil. Put differently, it is label for a specific kind of hurt.

Are your running a “racket”?

During my participation in Landmark Education I was exposed to the distinction “racket”. What is a racket? I say a racket is made of the following:

  • Fixed way of being e.g. being demanding, being critical, being helpful, being miserable…
  • Fixed set of behaviour – doing the same things over and over again
  • Recurrent complaint – about someone, something, about yourself
  • Payoff – usually hidden, not acknowledged – what you get out of being/doing what you are being/doing

Let’s get clear on this: you find a certain type of man attractive; you go for this type; you get what you get and you take it; at some point the ‘hurt’ and ‘abandonment’ shows up in your life’; you ‘beat yourself up’ in some way or form; you do the same again and again; and then you plead that you are simply a ‘moth to a flame’.

Well you are not a ‘moth’! You are human being who can envisage future, see possibilities, be other than that which you are being, pursue possibilities/paths other than what you are on today, do stuf that you are not doing today, stop doing stuff that you are doing…. you can even choose to give up your life. To be a human being is to be ‘the one that is always the chooser, always, not that which is chosen nor that which shows up or is imposed’. You can play at being ‘small’, ‘helpless’ even ‘pathetic’, that might work with you friends/family – it does not work with me. I relate to you as a ‘force of nature’ who can at any and all times invent and live into futures that leave your experience of living transformed. You are ‘BIG’, you really are. The question is, when will you choose to ‘play BIG’?

So now that we have distinguished the upper most level of racket – playing ‘small’ and asking for ‘leniency’ or ‘help’ let’s move on to the second level of your racket as I see it. Notice, I am not making truth claims. I am simply sharing my perspective with you, you might not like it and I say that is fine, try it out and see if it works. If it works then keep it, if it does not then you can drop it – I am not attached to it, you won’t hurt my feelings. Back to racket.

I say that you ‘ok’ with what is so including the ‘hurt’ and ‘abandonment’. Why? Because whatever it is that you are getting is of more value to you then the cost that you are paying. Put differently, the ‘payoff’ exceeds the ‘cost’ and so you continue doing what you are doing. Do you want to create the space in which you can choose to give up this game? Then look ruthlessly at the payoff – this will taking brutal honesty with yourself and we, human beings, are poor at that. What might that ‘payoff’ be?

  • You get to be right about men – they cannot be trusted, they are selfish;
  • You get to be right about yourself – you are small, helpless, cannot help yourself, cannot control yourself, you are passionate-different-trusting…..
  • You get sympathy – you can tell the story of how life is not working out and get attention, get sympathy………..
  • You get out of demands that you or others would otherwise place on you – after all if you are ‘hurt’ and ‘abandoned’ then you can give yourself a ‘get out of jail for free’ card and others typically do the same for you
  • By playing this ‘game’ you keep yourself occupied rather than being bored – it is better than ‘nothing’
  • Your belief in the myth of the ‘one’ continues intact and your dreams are not shattered……

The list is endless yet the buckets are not. What do I mean? Some wise folks have pointed out that human behaviour is driven by:

  • Looking good avoiding looking bad – which is why walk around with masks and are almost never truly ourselves
  • Being right and making others wrong – even if that means going to war and millions get killed
  • Dominating others and avoiding being dominated – in a family there is no-one as dominant as the one that gets the others to believe that he/she is helpless, ‘small’ and needs to be given special exemptions and be looked after!
  • Validating yourself (everything including your beliefs and points of view) and invalidating others – I experienced a great example of this morning when Matthew, Jehovah’s witness came to my door to show me the error of my ways and convert me.

Breaking free from your “racket”

‘Sister’ be ruthless with yourself and get clear on the ‘payoff’ and the ‘cost’ of playing this game. When it comes to ‘cost’ look at both the cost that you pay now, that you are paying longer term, and the cost that the people in your life pay. When you have written that out then get present to it – step into it, experience it. Once you have done that – are clear on the ‘payoff’ and ‘cost’ as experienced – then choose. Choose to play this game of falling for/going for the dominant men, the players, and if you do this then you give up complaining. Or choose to give this game up. If you choose to give it up then you create space to invent a more inspiring-moving-touching-uplifting game.

Finally, remember what I said earlier – you are creating your own suffering and you can give that up right now. How? Be with life as it is and as it is not. I wish you well and it will not make a difference. You, only you, are the difference that can make a difference to your experience of your living. Your destiny lies in you.