From Pain to Peace

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When people hurt us, our first instinctual response is often a “fuck you to the moon and back” type of rage. We’ve all been there, and not reacting or taking personal offense to the pain inflicted is undeniably fucking hard.

Especially when you genuinely did your best to be there for them—but your best will never be good enough for some.

We often interpret the projections of others as direct assaults and reflections of our own inadequacies. It requires significant strength and intellectual rigor to step back and recognize that others’ reactions are fundamentally about them, not us.

Our automatic responses to the behavior of others are deeply rooted in our past experiences. The cumulative data from these experiences shape our perceptions and lead us to form assumptions that we hold as incontrovertible truths.

However, these assumptions may not align with reality.

They are often merely preconceived notions, projected onto others to shield our egos. Yet, we are frequently oblivious to this distortion. In our minds, these projections constitute absolute truth. How could they not? We wouldn’t deceive ourselves, would we? Pause and consider this:

This is where reality becomes distorted.

Fundamentals of Personal Bias: Individuals will accept whatever version of reality best supports their unique belief system.

The deeply damaged among us often go to extreme measures to protect their fragile sense of self-worth.

For instance, consider a woman who has been in an abusive relationship. After enduring years of physical and emotional torment, she finally gathers the courage to leave her spouse. This decision, born out of self-preservation and a desire for a better life, threatens the abuser’s ego and self-perception. In response, the spouse concocts a narrative to preserve their self-image. To avoid facing the reality of their abusive behavior, they tell everyone that the woman was unfaithful and is to blame for the relationship’s breakdown. This narrative, entirely baseless, serves to shift the blame away from the abuser and cast the victim as the villain.

The spouse will repeat this version of events to themselves incessantly until they genuinely believe it.

Why do they do this? Do they know they are lying?

Not necessarily.

The primary coping mechanism for individuals who have committed grievous acts is to rationalize and fabricate stories that cast them as the “good” person. This narrative preserves their self-concept.

When we find ourselves on the receiving end of such rhetoric, our mental well-being hinges on not taking offense. Taking offense is futile and squanders valuable mental energy. People unconsciously project their own low self-worth onto others as a survival tactic. It has nothing to do with us as individuals.

Their minds are defending them. Understanding this renders taking offense nonsensical. Consider this: If we are at peace with our decisions, we feel no compulsion to lash out.

If we are in constant inner turmoil and lack self-confidence, it stands to reason that we seek solidarity in our suffering. Some empathy for your saboteur’s efforts is warranted. We inflict suffering on others when we ourselves are suffering. These behaviors often lie outside conscious awareness.

Key Point: We cannot attain forgiveness and peace by dwelling on past transgressions.

Peace is attainable only when we recognize that the pain inflicted upon us was not typically a consequence of our actions. It was a reaction from another hurt individual, using the tools at their disposal. Some of us have lived with lifelong entitlement, while others have walked the edge precariously. Reactions are usually reflective of these experiences.

Living in fear of another’s reaction is no way to live.

Allowing our ego to be disrupted by someone else’s projections is a waste of life. I have labored intensely to silence that critical tape in my mind, though it occasionally replays.

It is an ongoing practice, one that I will refine throughout my life—to release others’ projections and not internalize them.

As Don Miguel Ruiz elucidates in “The Four Agreements,” we all harbor invisible wounds and will go to great lengths to avoid them being touched.

We flee from the negative emotions we encounter within ourselves. When someone inadvertently touches these wounds, we act as if they caused them. But they did not, and they cannot heal them.

We project these issues onto others until we acknowledge that they are our wounds to heal. Others merely help to surface what we have not yet addressed within ourselves.

From this perspective, anger towards those who expose our shadows seems misplaced. Instead, we could replace resentment with compassion—for ourselves and those who hurt us.

They are, after all, wounded and unconsciously trying to get others to validate their paradigm of pain. This approach is antithetical to the path of healing and growth.

“Wherever you go, you will find people lying to you, and as your awareness grows, you will notice that you also lie to yourself. Do not expect people to tell you the truth because they also lie to themselves. You have to trust yourself and choose to believe or not to believe what someone says to you.” ~ Ruiz

Ultimately, hurt people hurt people. Taking offense only compounds our pain. The cycle can be broken when we choose not to internalize their projections.

In the end, the power to transcend suffering lies within us. By recognizing that the pain inflicted by others is a reflection of their own internal struggles, we can break free from the cycle of hurt and retaliation. This understanding allows us to reclaim our peace and direct our energy towards growth and self-compassion. In doing so, we not only heal ourselves but also set an example of resilience and empathy for those around us. Remember, true strength is found in the ability to rise above the chaos, to let go of the need for external validation, and to embrace the journey of self-discovery and healing with unwavering courage.

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