One of the ongoing efforts in my life is to be compassionate towards everyone (and everything) around me. This may seem like a simple task, in some ways, or some quasi-new-age-ing, but bear with me while I explain.
People are difficult. They are chaotic, traumatized, selfish, violent, abrasive, jealous, immature, disrespectful, and lack self-awareness. They also push everything they don’t wish to consider or work with outward. The amount of inner chaos and trauma that someone has is always represented by how their lives are going. If someone is inwardly chaotic, their lives will be chaotic, simply put.
But people can also be beautiful, intelligent, caring, nurturing, and wonderful. We strive so hard to move beyond the chaos and the drama and the people and circumstances that have caused for us to feel separate, unloved, and worthless. Many of us really and truly try to better ourselves, and better our lives.
I am not excluding myself from either camp, by the way. I do think that anyone who considers themselves to be “above” or “beyond” the violent, abrasive, jealous, chaotic aspects of themselves either simply hasn’t discovered them, is following a sort of “white light” script about how “spiritual” people are supposed to be, or is disassociated from them. These energies can be put to good use, by the way (but that is a different blog, I suppose).
There was a time in my life that I thought being compassionate meant that I had no boundaries. I have always had the capacity to see “inner”– meaning the pain and difficulty of those around me. Even if someone was being rude, emotionally abusive, or trying to transfer their issues onto me (it happens, especially in therapeutic-type work), I understood that they were in pain. Because people who are pain, who are unhealed, treat others (as well as themselves) like crap. People who are healed don’t act like that towards others.
I realized at a certain point that by simply letting things go I wasn’t modeling good boundaries.
I realized that although I have the tendency to see the potential in people, what causes them to act the way that they do, their trauma and pain, as well as their inner divinity… that they may not see this.
I began being aware of the fact that people who are in pain will lash out, will recreate scenarios again and again, and will place others in roles again and again that resemble their initial trauma. That most people are stuck or frozen in these infantile or child-like states where their trauma occurred. I could see this again and again and began remarking on it “oh, that person is acting like that because they are 15, or 2 years old”.
This helped me to stop being triggered by most people. You can only get so upset at a 40 year old man who is in a 20 year old, or 2 year old mindset. This is not intended to be rude, or judgmental to the person, by the way (I also remark on this with myself, like “wow, I really acted like a 17 year old there. What’s up with that?)
People will act like this with any inner need that they may have that has been unfulfilled– anything that they have been personally struggling with. For example, I have had a few people seek to “teach” me either by going on my Facebook page or via email. I have no issue with intelligent discourse– a meeting of minds and hearts and the discussion of views– even if they are vastly different views. This can be done with respect and regard for all involved.
But some do this because they really and truly need to be seen as “superior” or “teacher”. If someone truly knows what they are talking about, if they have the confidence and self-worth to understand that they have something to offer, they do not need to present themselves as superior, or go seek out “students”. People will find them if they are truly who they are attempting to be.
The difficulty is that the people who do this rarely have much original thought– it is all recycled material from Eckhart Tolle books and the like. But the point here isn’t about them, really– it is about the fact that they are playing out the fact that they need to be seen outwardly in such a way, and if they inwardly truly felt and embodied the energy of being a “teacher” they wouldn’t need to do so, and they wouldn’t need to energetically make others feel “less than” them to do so either.
The other point here is that this used to be something that bothered me. One of my requirements for teachers is humility– to me it means that the person has worked on themselves considerably (there is a difference between confidence and superiority, and confidence and humility work together well, by the way).
I used to let this go, and I still often do. The “delete” button on email is a wonderful thing. But I also learned that if you continue to let behavior like this happen without doing anything, it will just repeat. What happens if you show boundaries, or more simply, call the person out, is that they will retreat. They will find someone new to “teach” that they can be condescending to in order to make themselves feel temporarily better.
I dislike conflict. I really do. My life in a lot of ways has been a search for peace. Because of this, I let quite a bit slide. But there has been a calibration in recent years of the type of behavior and energy that I allow to come my way.
This can be done in a simple, non-emotional way. This only happens if the person doing this takes a breath, realizes fully what is triggering them about the person (including any portion of personal responsibility or mirroring that may be going on), and then responds.
This will not change the person, of course. It often will just cause them to find someone else to put this energy on. They will do this until they actually decide to deal with whatever inwardly is creating issues for them… that “freeze” in their timeline.
I find, if I do not have strong boundaries in my work, that others will try to put their energy (of whatever they are dealing with) onto me so they don’t have to deal with it. I am not the only one that this happens to, but in recent years it has happened less.
Because I have strong boundaries.
Because I allow for people to be who they are (whatever that might be), and I realize what they are struggling with, but I no longer allow myself to take any of that energy on.
When we realize that how people are acting, or even how they are interacting, with us, has little to do with us… it can allow for us to have compassion for them. They are simply recreating some sort of trauma, unresolved emotion, or difficulty, and they have simply cast you in a role to do so.
I no longer let myself be put in roles– there was one woman recently who got upset that I would not allow for her to recreate her issues with her mother with me. This is not rare, of course, but she was traumatized, wounded, and expecting me to make up for the lifetime(s) of issues that her mother caused for her. And this is not something that I was willing to do.
I also recognize when people are trying to emotionally manipulate me. I simply don’t respond to this most of the time, but on rare occasions the person will continually step this behavior up until I have to respond.
In a lot of ways I have been blessed in recent years because I do not have a lot of time on my hands. I simply don’t have time to answer the multitude of emails that come my way looking for free advice, and emails that are downright rude I can simply ignore.
But there is a question here of calibration, of letting things go and allowing people to be who they are (even if that is difficult, entitled, stupid, abrasive, violent, traumatized, and so forth), or of responding energetically or physically (verbally or otherwise).
I do find that people like strong boundaries.
The stronger I make my boundaries the more that people can sit with their own issues. Some people don’t like this– they will find another healer or someone that will allow for them to manipulate, drain their energy (or time) , or participate in their chaos.
There is this archetype of the “healer”, especially women, of being these compassionate “wounded healer” types that are these earth-mother nurturers who will let people basically steamroll them. Who will become the loving mother someone never had, to hold their hand and do their work for them.
I have now worked with hundreds of healers who are this “wounded healer” earth-mother type, and they have allowed for their clients to suck them dry. That seems harsh, I realize, but it happens a lot. People who embody this role will be “matched” with those seeking out someone to take on their energy, or to take on whatever role they want to place them in, or to simply drain them of energy. And until the “earth mother wounded healer” type learns to not do this, they are going to be continually depleted and on the edge of burnout.
Many people have this “mother wound” and are still in child-mode, looking to place this energy on anyone they come across who is willing to do so.
I find that some people do not like me because I am not a “wounded healer” type– I am more the “spiritual warrior” archetype. Although I am compassionate towards people, I have the firm belief that people heal from within, and it is their responsibility (with assistance from others) to look inwardly at whatever is going on to heal it. Although I see the potential in each and every person that comes my way, I am very aware of how and when people look to displace this energy onto me so they can continue their unhealed “stuff”.
One of the things personally I have been working on is calibrating my bluntness with compassion. I can be quite direct with people, and although the vast majority of people like this (especially those that are drawn to me), I realize that, like any human, I can sometimes be a bit too blunt, or a bit too blunt for the person in front of me.
But in general, I get a lot of questions of “how can I live in this world, people suck”, or “I always feel like people are putting their issues onto me and they go away feeling wonderful and I feel drained and dark”, or “how can I be around people who are sleepwalking through life” or “I consistently get taken advantage of people and end up feeling resentful towards them as a healer”… so I will keep things simple about what I do (yes, this is still a work in progress, and every time I am “triggered”, which isn’t very often any more, I re-look at this list):
- Every time I feel negatively, am “triggered”, or feel emotional about a person, I simply ask myself why. This can be a simple answer like “they were being really rude towards me”
- I then consider with all of the “rude” people in the world, why this person specifically may have bothered me so much. This can again be simple, such as “well, she is my cousin” or “this was online and they were completely wrong” or “they directed a lot of hatred towards me”
- I then consider myself and my own thoughts/actions. Is this person mirroring anything of mine (past, present, or future?) Are they showing me any aspect of myself that I don’t like, or don’t wish to acknowledge?
- I then consider if I am looking to control this person, or their actions. A lot of our feelings are aspects of wanting control– if we are able to let go of wanting the person to be different, or wanting them to be a specific way, we can let a lot of stuff slide. You can even state “I let go of any control I want to have over you or how you are behaving”
- Numbers 1-4 should be all you need, but you can move on if you want to consider the deeper implications of things…
- Look at the person and consider what age they are acting from. Is it their current age or is it much different? People may act different ages at different times, based on the trauma. During this interaction, what age are they acting from?
- Consider why the person may need to act this way. What are they getting out of it? What people exhibit outwardly is often the reverse of how they feel inwardly. For example, if they are acting superior they feel inferior… they are projecting what they want people to see into the world in a way that is crass or difficult because they do not feel that way inwardly
- Also consider that emotions exhibited or “pushed” onto other people mean that the person does not have the tools or means to deal with it inwardly, and how their lives must show that displaced energy. Feeling compassion for the amount of chaos and difficulty people create for themselves can be an extraordinarily helpful tool
- Sometimes I see the amount of chaos around people like a cyclone– that chaos plays out in their lives. See or sense this cyclone of energy around them and consider how this is exactly how much chaos is in their daily lives.
- Now, consider if you need to do anything about it. I suggest letting things go, in general. But if it is particularly abrasive, creating difficulty or chaos for you, or otherwise disruptive to your life, especially if it is repeated behavior, you can either let the person go (no longer interact with them), or you can call them out, simply and directly. Always consider the safety of doing so, but stating something honestly to someone like “I am always here for you, but I choose not to participate in drama”, will have the result of someone either being upset with you and finding someone else to exhibit their behavior to (thus them consciously making the choice to remove themselves from the situation), or in some cases, will allow for them to recognize that you are not willing to accept this behavior and begin to act differently.
I generally will state #10 to people (again, working on bluntness a bit), but even saying this energetically to someone has a similar effect. If you notice someone creating issues, simply saying “no” inwardly to them sounds simple, but can be completely effective. I also suggest people to work on any cords they may have to others, you can check out my cord book here…