Are there are areas in your life where you think you could do better?
And when I say better, I don’t mean a self improvement project (self optimization). I’m talking about ways in which you can interact with others that are positive, healing, helpful and empowering.
There is a profound relationship between the wounds we carry around inside of us and how these internal wounds enable us to create pain and suffering for others.
We may not be aware we are wounding others (let alone how!) because we are so wrapped up in our own wounding. We are so busy protecting ourselves (we have wounds after all) that we do not even notice (or care) how much pain we are creating.
We are reactive to others because we ourselves are operating out of our own pain.
At this point there is nothing but pain. Others are hurt. You are hurt. It’s a hot mess. And that’s all there is – hurt.
Others are hurting us, attacking us or undermining us and we must defend ourselves because we feel vulnerable and we attach to this vulnerability because at that moment our vulnerability is the most real part of us.
We strike out because we hurt. And (don’t forget) because we have been wronged.
The wounding is painful not only for ourselves but we convey that wound to others. We make sure of that.
Too often the wounded cannot see their own wound. The wounded think it’s all coming from somewhere else. The wounded think someone else is doing this to me. Someone else is persecuting me. I am being taken advantage of and it’s not fair!
This is not to underestimate when there is clear and present danger and we need to be concerned for our safety.
What is called for here is a level of discernment.
Is this perceived threat truly in danger of hurting us or are we perceiving this danger because we ourselves are hurt and the hurt has enveloped us to such a degree that the pain appears to come from outside of us?
Perhaps we have built up reactive patterns that now govern how we interact with others.
This year provides us with space to consider our own wounding because we cannot physically mix with friends, colleagues and relatives. But we can mix with friends, colleagues and relatives in our hearts.
Family is very often where the wounding begins.
We may have found ourselves with parents, siblings and relatives who were – for whatever reason – unattentive to our needs as children.
There might have been issues of mental illness, issues of money, addiction and interpersonal friction among family members.
Perhaps ‘love’ was in short supply and we learned to compete for attention. Perhaps we learned (and rightly so) that loved ones could not be emotionally trusted.
This isn’t anyone’s fault. There is no blame here. Don’t go that route. We are all trying to do the best we can. Some do it better than others.
Nonetheless, we may be left to grow and mature with an embodied sense of mistrust. We know – deep down – that we are fools to rely on the goodwill of others.
During this holiday season we can think about tending to our family wounding as if it were a gift, a place from which we can open onto – rather than withdraw from – so that we can expand and grow. Wounding wants us to shrink and contract. This is how we protect.
We can bring love and care to our internal wounds. Tending to ourselves enables us to open our hearts onto others. And not with naivete, but with compassion for the very real shortcomings and pressures that join us all as human beings.
This is where healing begins and where we can begin to do better – in the open light of compassion and discernment that we bring into our relations with ourselves and others.