Pain and Hurt Boomerang
Today I was rocked. I was hit right in the face with a pain boomerang I’d sent out into the world. And I’m so incredibly disappointed in myself.
Here I am pretending to be this "love guru", preaching to the world about compassion and empathy, when I haven’t been living that truth! I’ve been bullshitting myself and everyone else. Sure, I might be doing 90% of the work...ok, maybe 75%, let’s be real, I’m still human, right? But I go on and on with myself and with others about how it’s so important to practice mindfulness and meditation so that you can witness your own thoughts emotions and fears and then step back and make a conscious LOVING decision on how to move forward. But I haven’t been doing that! (...at least not 100% of the time) And now that choice has come back to me loud and hard, as a pain boomerang, which smacked me right upside the face today. You see, I’d been having some challenges at work with a particular co-worker. This person has more seniority than me and technically is in a superior position, so right there that should have stopped me in my tracks from allowing my jibber jabber to get me into trouble. But did I take that into consideration? No, it really didn’t cross my mind because I was too wrapped up in my ego’s self-belief and storyline of “I can’t believe this person did this to me”, “They shouldn’t be allowed to treat me this way”, “I’m right, they’re wrong”... and on and on and on. At first, I just bitched and moaned to myself about it. And I even spoke with a colleague to get advice and they instructed me either to confront the person or to simply let go and accept this person for who they are. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do any of it. Why not? And instead I completely chickened out. One morning, I intended to speak to this person after a meeting, but I judged the situation in my mind and determined to myself that this person was “too negative” and “not open-minded enough” to receive or hear what I had to say to them. I completely prejudged the situation (ah this must be where prejudice comes from…) and determined for them how they were going to respond without even giving them an opportunity to do so. I created an entire scenario in my mind, played it out in my head and then with unanimous decision by a committee of no one determined they failed my miserable test and therefore must be a miserable person themselves, no longer worthy of love or compassion or kindness. I completely wrote this person off without taking a moment of consideration to contemplate and see where they might have been coming from. Yes, did they do something that hurt me in the original moment of discord? Yes, but did I handle it lovingly and compassionately? Absolutely not.
And now my forthcoming actions have come back to haunt me. Instead of choosing love, I unconsciously chose to carryover the pain and hurt and venom I felt I received in the original moment of contention, by carrying that energy with me and I began speaking poorly of this person to my boss and to anyone else I thought would listen. I shared and shared and shared my hurtful words and like a virus or wildfire, those words spread. They spread all the way back to the person I faced the original challenge with, but this time, my words put fuel on a fire, igniting more distrust, pain and hurt. Suddenly an innocent mistake or unintentional gaffe between us becomes a major issue that seams irrevocably unmanageable and unfixable. But I’m glad this person felt angry and hurt enough to confront me about what seemed to be a small issue, because I could clearly see and hear the pain and hurt I had caused this person, by the venomous words I’d put out into the universe. It was like a mirror reflected back at me calling bullshit on all my actions. “Yeah you say you’re choosing love, well how about when you did this, is that what you call love? I think not, I call BS!” And the part that hurt me the most was not being confronted, it was knowing and witnessing how I’d played a significant part in perpetuating that pain circle launched into the world. It came at me originally so that I could consciously heal and transform it with a loving choice, but instead, I threw it back out into the world only for it to come back and hit me in the face again as a pain boomerang. As soon as the gravity of the situation hit me, and I’d realized what I’d done, I tried to take immediate action to course correct. First, I had to get silent, so that I could notice what I was experiencing and processing emotionally during the new conversation. Second, I had to really listen to what the other person was saying and expressing to me, so that I could hear their pain and frustration with me and my actions towards them. Third, I had to acknowledge to them that I could empathize with their hurt and that I would likely feel the same if I had been in their shoes. Fourth, one of the hardest things to do came up. I had to acknowledge that I was wrong, and that I was sorry, and express that humility and vulnerability that I was feeling to the person. This requires complete surrendering and letting go of the ego and any sense of personal pride that would keep me stuck and not allow me to move forward lovingly. I also had to admit to myself that I had failed, that I hadn’t made loving conscious choices. I’d instead chosen the easy routes of avoidance, gossip and negativity. Finally, probably the hardest step of all, once I’d admitted to being wrong and being truly sorry for what I’d done to the person I hurt, I also needed to admit this fallibility, this failure, and the shame I felt in my complicity, and share the story with all of you. So that I may be a cautionary tale of what not to do. So that I can encourage each of you to be better than me. Make better, more conscious choices.
Last, but not least, I need to find a way to forgive myself and to try to do better next time. That’s all we can really do, isn’t it? Learn from our mistakes, improve, get better and do our best to remain conscious and loving towards ourselves and one another. ❤️
Here's what it feels like when ‘the pain body’ (as Eckhart Tolle calls it) is triggered - (this is what occurred in my body when my colleague confronted me about my actions that caused them pain):
Rush of emotions- panic anxiety pressure
Everything constricts - tightness gripping pressure closed jaw tightness clenching
Shortness of breath
Lack of oxygen to brain
Fog and blur sets in
What to do next:
Pause and breathe
Try to take big deep breaths if you can
Just allow yourself to take a beat and to witness what is happening
The flood of emotions will clear through in about 90 seconds - step back, witness and allow
Once breath and thinking comeback online, evaluate the situation- what is the other person really saying and telling you? Not necessarily with their words - but, what’s the subtext of what they’re saying? Did you cause them hurt somehow? (how?, what?, Ask open ended questions and get more Intel.)
Then repeat back to them what you are hearing. (Eg. It sounds like what you’re saying is...)
Then check in. Eg. Is that right? Am I capturing what you’re expressing to me?
Empathize. Eg. I see where you’re coming from, I would be frustrated in your shoes too, etc.
Apologize if you can and if it’s appropriate. Remember it’s not about pride or ego. What can you offer making a loving choice for both of you?
Finally offer an action to move things forward in a positive loving way or even ask what they’d like to see next, how would you suggest we move forward, what would you like me to do?
Finally, if you can, thank them for entrusting you.
Forgive yourself and free yourself. As Maya Angelou said, "When you know better... you do better".
*Meditate, meditate, meditate, so you’re creating the foundation upon which to build.*
Begin your day in neutrality, because Lord knows, enough “stuff” will be thrown at you in any given day to rock you off your center. With meditation and mindfulness, you’ll be more aware and alert to notice when you’ve been bumped off your center, so that you can consciously choose to come back to neutral and make a kind, loving, compassionate choice, instead of just reacting based on an old pattern that frankly doesn’t serve you, or the loving, compassionate world you want to create, anymore.