Key Lesson: You cannot “make” another see his or her mistake in life; the only way to help others see where they are acting against themselves is for you to choose, regardless of personal “cost,” to play no part in their choice.
The Power to Outgrow Problem People in Your Life
When someone acts thoughtlessly towards us, and we react negatively towards him or her, it is a similar thoughtlessness in us that responds. In other words, our own hostile reactions take no thought for anything outside of what they call into account for their suddenly heated existence — so that the only awareness we possess in these times is that low level of cognizance that possesses us, making us “entitled” to attack back! And with our own aching heart or pounding thoughts providing the fuel, we lash out! After all, it is our “right” to set the record straight.
But in these moments, if we could learn to step back from ourselves — to see and to be aware of ourselves as being but a cog in an ever-turning wheel of hurting and being hurt — there would follow a great and liberating self-revelation. We would see, clearly, that before we rise up and attempt to hurt someone who has hurt us, it is we who hold this hurt first. And if we realize the dynamic exposed here — how one hurt always gives rise to another one — then we should also be able to see that each of us is always the first to hold this unwanted pain.
If we see the truth of this unconscious cycle, then we are ready for the next truth we will need to escape this circle of suffering: It doesn’t matter how, or where, this dark cycle got started. It is not important any longer. Why? Because once we understand that to try to hurt someone — even just to want to — is to hurt ourselves, it makes no difference who did what to whom, or for whatever reasons. Once we come aware to the fact that when we hate, we feel this hatred first in ourselves, our relationship with this darkness is done. The whole issue becomes as simple as this: Hatred hurts us, not the person we blame for it. To hold a wish to punish someone begins with the unconscious embrace of the very pain we wish to inflict.
These discoveries all tell one story: Nothing grows on a battlefield except for the number of cries. Nothing can develop in us as long as the truth about our condition remains buried beneath so much misunderstanding. The point is that the pain we pass onto one another must stop somewhere or this cycle of conflict will never cease. And it must, or else the vital energies we need to grow beyond ourselves will simply be poured back into the earth for purposes unknown to us, even as we are compelled to serve conflict’s dark plan through our unconscious suffering. What is the alternative?
Most of us already suspect what needs to be done if we are to have any hope of moving beyond the conflict so common in today’s relationships. Nevertheless, here is a brief description of the spiritual action to be taken: We must stop giving to our friends and family the pain we cannot bear to carry ourselves. Said differently, each of us must agree to be the one who will “taste” what we would serve to our “enemy du jour” before we throw it upon his or her plate.
From this moment forward, let the conflict stop with you. Make it your intention to forever quit yourself from the turning of this invisible wheel-of-woe. Each time we will consciously refuse to strike back in anger or act out some aggression toward the one who hurts us, we sow the seed of a new order of a conscious life. Now instead of being used by dark forces that grow at the expense of our soul’s development, it is we who use our endless differences with others to grow endlessly. And at the same time that we learn to rise above the pain of our own negative reactions, we create the possibility and opportunity for others around us to do the same.
Each time we will choose not to respond to someone’s mental or emotional blow with a blow of our own, that person is left no choice but to see that the only antagonist he has is his own pain. And just as this person’s awakening to the continual cause of his unconscious aching is the beginning of the end of it, so too is this true for us. Our newly awakened understanding reveals that there is nothing for us to do with our pain but to let it be nothing to us. And with each such spiritual step that we will dare to take outside the circle of suffering, so do we make a way for everyone else… because at last the circle has been broken.
This article is excerpted from Seeker’s Guide to Self-Freedom (pages 181-184.).
About the Author: Guy Finley, Your Bi-Weekly Mentor, is the best-selling author of more than 40 books and audio albums on self-realization. He is the founder and director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit center for spiritual discovery located in southern Oregon where he gives talks four times each week. For more information visit www.guyfinley.org, and sign up to receive a free helpful weekly newsletter and other gifts.
Click here to read Guy’s autobiography and find more of his articles posted on The Teen Mentor.