Last week, thousands of you read "How to Heal Your Secret Hurt," and many wrote to thank me for the article. Some asked a telling question: "How do you avoid hurt in the first place?" What a super question!
Hurt feelings often stem from expectations or unspoken demands you place on other people. You know the drill: If you loved me, you would... Of course, half the battle lies in the fact that you probably haven't even shared your expectations with the other person in the first place. The first obvious fix might be to tell the other person what you hope will be true in the relationship and how you hope they will behave. At least that way there's some chance the other person might go along.
Even this direct approach belies a problem that needs to be addressed. If you take this route, you then set yourself up for more reasons to be upset, something I addressed earlier in my article "I'm Upset Because..." The other person is not responsible for how you choose to feel! Fritz Perls, my early inspiration in this field of personal response-ability, wrote what has become known as the Gestalt Prayer:
I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
If not, it can't be helped.
(Fritz Perls, "Gestalt Therapy Verbatim," 1969)
However, knowing this did not necessarily make it any easier to go through my life free of hurt feelings. It wasn't until my spiritual teacher, John-Roger, helped me understand the difference between the underlying spiritual essence of who people are and what they do that I began to experience increasing ease and grace in my life.
A couple of years after I had created Insight Seminars, I was talking with John-Roger about how disappointed I was with a particular individual and his behavior. J-R asked me what was disappointing. I told him that the other person seemed to be saying one thing and doing another in a way that betrayed the greater consciousness we had been discussing as our business relationship was developing. That's when J-R helped me with a distinction I am still learning to this day: The personality and behavior of another person just can't hold a candle to the soul, to the divinity of who they truly are.
He basically said to me: "Whenever you see the soul or spirit of another person, you unconsciously project onto them behaviors that you think are consistent with what soul or spirit mean to you. When their behavior varies from your definition of soul-centered essence, you feel betrayed, let down or somehow lied to."
You Are a Spiritual Being Having a Human Experience
Bam! What an eye opener that was. I have often allowed the behavior of another to cloud my vision and forget that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, not human beings having a spiritual experience. Part of the human experience is to err, to listen and behave more in accordance with our Self-Talk than to live from the divine essence of our Soul-Talk.
When I can hold the difference in my consciousness, when I can recognize the Divine in the other as independent from the choices the personality might make, I find my life is easier, characterized by more grace, acceptance and loving. Not surprisingly, I not only experience greater acceptance and understanding, but I also walk free of hurt feelings, of the imagined slights, disappointments or feelings of betrayal.
In truth, the only betrayal is that created by my own Self-Talk, that age-old programming that would have me focus on the behaviors of myself and others as though that is who we truly are. When I do so, I lose sight of the Divine in both myself and other person, forgetting that the soul is here having a human experience. Turning a blind eye to the underlying spiritual essence makes it easier to step into judgment, and, as noted last week:
That deep pain you have experienced in your life, the one that won't seem to let go, is anchored in having forgotten your Divinity and focusing instead on the part of you that has erred. Denial of your true source is easy enough to come by -- it's simply a by-product of having a human experience in this world and losing sight of the ultimate truth that you are soul having that human experience.
You Are Not Your Mistakes
So, if you would experience your life in a greater state of acceptance, grace and ease, free from hurt and disappointment, try looking for the Divine first in your own self. Start to notice the difference between your deeper soul-centered essence and the mistakes you make in life. You make mistakes, but you are not your mistakes. The more you can bring this level of awareness to your own self, the easier it will be for you to see the difference in others. The more you can experience the Divine in your self and others, the greater will be your freedom and you will, indeed, step free from the source of your deepest hurt -- forgetting that we are all Divine, each souls having a human experience.
How does this match to your own experience? Have you noticed that you sometimes act in ways that are inconsistent with who you truly are at a deeper level? How can you bring this greater awareness into your daily life, with your family, your friends, and your coworkers?
Please do leave a comment here or drop me an email at Russell (at) russellbishop.com.
If you want more information on how you can apply this kind of reframing to your life and to your job, about a few simple steps that may wind up transforming your life, please download a free chapter from my book, Workarounds That Work. You'll be glad you did.
Russell Bishop is an educational psychologist, author, executive coach and management consultant based in Santa Barbara, Calif. You can learn more about my work by visiting my website at www.RussellBishop.com. You can contact me by email at Russell (at) russellbishop.com.
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