By Mike George
Do you need protection? Are you strong enough to protect yourself? Or do you need someone to protect you? We tend to think of protection on a physical level and the idea that if you are physically strong enough you will be able to protect your self. And if you are not then there are three options a) go to the gym build your muscles b) get someone to protect you or c) stay in!
Discos employ bouncers, armies train soldiers and the rich and famous hire bodyguards. But the vast majority of us will never need to worry about being hurt by others as our average day carries very little physical threat. However if we move to the mental/emotional level there appears to be a different kind of possibility that we may get ‘hurt’.
In order to clearly see what kind of protection we may need, it’s useful to consider exactly how ‘hurt’ happens. These are the seven main reasons why we might feel that we are ‘hurting’ mentally or emotionally.
Insulted “How dare you say that to me!” Whether someone calls us names or makes derogatory remarks about our personality, it seems many of us can easily feel personally insulted.
Offended. “Can you believe what they just said about ‘my’ religion” Similar to a personal insult being offended means we are disapproving of someone’s behavior or words. In our ‘judgment’ of the other we see them as doing or saying something against our beliefs or values. It could be a slander towards our race or religion. Some have come to habitually feel so easily affronted they consciously seek for reasons to be offended.
Let Down “I am so disappointed in you because you’ve let me down” A sense of hurt is the form of disappointment that follows quickly from the perception that someone has let us down. Whether they turned up late or just didn’t meet a commitment, we take it personally and once our sadness and anger (hurt) have faded, we put a black mark against that persons name in filing cabinet called memory.Betrayed “How could you tell them what I said, how can I ever trust you again” When we take others into our ‘confidence’ we do so with the expectation that they will keep that confidence confidential! We do not expect them to pass it on to any old ‘other’! And when they do we feel the hurt of betrayal.
Robbed “They took everything from me” Perhaps one of the deepest hurts is when we have something we deem precious taken from us. Sometimes we feel it’s not just thieves, but we perceive some businesses are out to take as much from as many of us as they can for their product or service, and we then call it daylight robbery!
Broken Promise “But you promised me…”! We all know the moment of personal hurt when someone breaks a promise, whether it’s a parent who fails to buy that bike at Christmas, the boss who fails to deliver a promised promotion or the friend who fails to return a precious item on time.
Excluded “You didn’t invite me…” It’s that moment when you realise that you are not included in what you desired to be a part of. Any hurt feelings are often followed by, “What’s wrong with me?”
Life seems to throw up so many good reasons to feel hurt which means to feel powerless in the face of other’s behaviours and prevailing circumstances. In some areas this can happen so frequently to so many people that eventually the government has to create a ‘protection agency’ to ensure ‘the people’ are not exploited by others.
So how do we build our mental and emotional strength, how do we empower our self so that we don’t experience these feelings of hurt? How can we build the inner power to protect our self from our own mental and emotional suffering? Perhaps ‘protection’ is not the right word! Perhaps the real question is how do we not create, or break the habit of creating, our own suffering, our own hurt, in the first place?
Here are some suggestions in the form of the basic principles of ‘self emPOWERment’ which can both eliminate all hurt and eventually give you the strength not to create it.
1 Accept Responsibility Sometimes it’s hard to see, never mind accept, that we are each responsible for our thoughts and feelings at all times and in all situations. Our first responsibility in life is our ‘ability to respond’. This means any ‘hurt’ feelings are entirely our own creation and it’s never the other person or the situation. Easy theory but hard to put into practice in the ‘heat of the moment’, especially after a lifetime of believing ‘it’s them’. But if we can apply the principle of self responsibility, even after the situation has receded, we will begin to look for the cause of our hurt within our self as opposed to continue projecting our emotions on to others. And when we look we will almost certainly find that we feel hurt because the world is not dancing to our tune.
2 End Controlling It’s just not possible to control anyone else’s words or behaviours…ever! And most of our hurt comes because others are not saying or doing what we want, or they are saying/doing what we don’t want. Our emotional reaction is a sign that we are trying to control what we cannot control. Our ‘hurt’ is a sign that we are unhappy, and believe they are ‘making’ us unhappy. But ‘reality’ reminds us that the world is not designed to dance to ‘my tune’ and neither is the world, which includes other people, responsible for our happiness.
3 Be Happy Anyway Being responsible for our own happiness is also a challenge in a world that sends us hundreds of messages every day to say you cannot be happy until you have this, go there, consume that and acquire these etc. But as long as we make our happiness dependent on anything or anyone outside our self our emotions will fluctuate wildly and we will be unable to be at peace with our self, unable to give the gift of our peace to others, unable to extend the light of our love consistently to others. We will be unable to stop hurting our self emotionally or mentally. Realising that our happiness is an ‘inside job’ frees us from our dependencies and then there is nothing anyone can do that would ‘let us down’.
4 Letting Go If you explore the root of any hurt and all your unhappiness you will always find some form of attachment. Holding on to things, ideas and images of how others ‘should’ speak and act, is the real cause of our hurt feelings. Letting go or being detached does not mean we don’t care or that we are ‘avoiding’, it simply means we are free, our energy, our power is not trapped or blocked by old attachments, and we are able use our energy to respond positively to whatever happens.
5 Self Awareness The one place we tend not to look and learn is the inner space of our self. Cultivating self awareness allows us to see how and why we are ‘feeling’ hurt. It reminds us we are always responsible for our feelings and that we have the inner power to choose our feelings regardless of what others say or do. We may even see that we too have the ‘occasional inclination’ to insult, offend, exclude, let others down. And as we do we also realise that in the reality of real life these are things some people intend to do. And we can do absolutely nothing about others intentions and what they eventually do. All we can do is not be ‘affected’ by what they do. Some people do try to protect themselves from such behaviours but only by avoiding them. Much better to empower our self so that we don’t ‘hurt’ our own feelings, our self, when we see and hear ‘them’ attempting to insult, offend, exclude, rob etc.
You know when you are self-empowered, you know when you are standing in our power when:
No one can hurt you by insulting you, as you now see you are not whatever ‘name/s’ they may call you. It is just words (sticks and stones…)
You can no longer be ‘offended’ because you are no longer ‘attached’ to a particular belief or belief system about how others ‘should’ speak, act, wear their clothes and live their lives.
You are can never be hurt by some one who lets you down because you have learned not to make your happiness dependent on having your expectations met by others.
You can never be hurt by betrayal because you are no longer dependent on what others think about you for your self worth and self esteem and you know that you cannot control what others will do with what you share.
You cannot be robbed of anything of real value because in truth you know you possess nothing (you can’t take it with when you go) and everything comes and goes, and you have no control over the manner in which it may leave! And you now know your primary values are intangible and internal not those tangible and external things you are taught to acquire.
You can no longer be hurt by a broken promise because you know and accept that that is what people sometimes do, they break their promises, and your happiness is no longer dependent on others keeping their promises.
You are no longer devastated when you appear to be excluded. You do not take it personally. Your self-esteem and self-worth are no longer dependent on the approval of others. You no longer need to be involved in anything to be content within your self. You know there is nothing ‘wrong’ with you. You are a free spirit, and if the invitations come that’s OK, but if they don’t come that’s also OK.
In truth you cannot be protected against ‘hurt’ at a mental/emotional level because you create the hurt feelings yourself. But if you are still ‘hurting’ then it’s a signal to head for the mental/emotional gym and embark on some mental muscle building. And the first exercise is realising it’s ‘not them, it’s me’.
Question: Which of the above seven reasons tends to be the ‘trigger’ (not cause) of your hurt feelings.
Reflection: How could you free your self from all hurt?
Action: Take five minutes at the end of each day this week and note down all the moments you felt hurt by someone or something and see if you can see why it was you and not ‘them’.