In our healing journeys, we often tend to fixate on times and experiences in which we were victimized. There is reason for this, as trauma creates beliefs, emotions, and energies that are in dire need of healing.
But we also have aspects of ourselves that are the perpetrator– that have caused harm to ourselves and others. These parts of ourselves are often neglected, and in dire need of healing and compassion.
It is easier to see ourselves as the victim, to see how we have been wronged in this world. To see how others have wronged us, and the sort of damage they have created. It is admirable for any of us to release the anger, the pain, and the fear that these experiences have caused. Spiritual healing can also offer reconciliation with those parts of ourselves that have disassociated due to trauma, and release the beliefs about ourselves and the world that were created due to overwhelming circumstances and trauma as a result of being victimized.
But those aspects of ourselves that have created harm for ourselves and others require healing as well if we are really and truly going to be whole.
It is a brave act to consider the ways in which we have created harm for others. In smaller and larger ways we have created difficulty for others in this world, micro or major traumas that they have had to deal with. We have victimized others, whether we have realized it or not.
There is a certain point in time in which be come to this sort of awareness– of not only the aspects of ourselves that have been wronged, but the aspects of ourselves that have done the “wronging”. When I began to realize these circumstances I began to feel a lot of sorrow for the pain that I created for others, for the major and minor times that I have gossiped, actively caused pain, been jealous, or sent energies of hatred to another.
How I treated my parents as a teenager, the time that I wouldn’t let someone into my group, even though I knew what it was like to be an outcast, the energies of hatred and gossip that I sent towards someone that I was jealous of, the times I sent angry thoughts towards those who were so wrapped up in their own “stuff” and I couldn’t recognize their pain– I only saw their limited vision, their trauma, their stupidity, their unwillingness to learn.
Part of the way we are a perpetrator is through our own selfishness.
I frequently interact with people who are passive-aggressive, competitive, or so fixated on me (or others) considering them “enlightened” or “superior” in some fashion. If I were myself of even a year or two ago I would be angry at these people and the sort of illusions that they create for themselves. But now I realize that they simply cannot see beyond themselves, they haven’t gotten to the point where they can take that look at themselves and see beyond their own small experiences of this universe.
There comes a point in the spiritual path in which we start to recognize oneness, in which we start to recognize that whoever or whatever we are, that we are not that big of a deal… and that whatever we are going through, it is an aspect of the human condition. That there are millions of others who feel unloved, isolated, unhappy, and are struggling in many ways.
Likewise, if we have not reached this point we believe that our sensitivities, our spiritual path, or whatever we are going through is so totally unique and worthy of admiration that we may not realize that we have simply graduated from spiritual kindergarten to spiritual first grade.
Until we reach this point we are unable to see beyond our own pain and illusions. When we are in pain it is difficult to rise above our own selfishness, it is difficult to understand that many others may understand and may be experiencing what we are experiencing in the current moment, and that whomever we are, there are always others more enlightened, aware, and knowledgeable than we are.
Expressing forgiveness for those who cannot rise above their own selfishness is a part of healing the perpetrator. Those who cannot see beyond themselves cannot experience love, grace, or the healing that comes from feeling a part of the world. It is indicative of things within needing to be healed… it is indicative of a lack of self-love, and the worst form of this perpetrator instinct.
We can forgive those who are selfish, because they are locked within a world view that they cannot rise above. We can forgive those that have perpetrated even the worst acts, or forgive ourselves for perpetrating those acts, because we did not understand our wholeness. Giving ourselves compassion for the times we have been perpetrated against, or have been the perpetrator, allows for wholeness.
Doing this does not mean that what we did was okay, or what someone else did against us was okay. There are things in this world that are horrible, and there is evil in this world. There is a lot of trauma and fracturing in this world, and the people who experience this trauma and fracturing will continue to repeat it, again and again, in a misguided effort to find healing. We can forgive someone for their brokenness, for their pain, and still realize that what they did, or what we did to another, was not okay, but it can be moved beyond in an effort to find wholeness.
The worst form of violence we do is against ourselves. The thoughts, ideas, illusions, and fears that create and color our world create fracturing, the create violence. They cause for us to perpetrate against ourselves in a way that is, at time, astonishingly horrific.
We think awful things about ourselves that come from our lack of wholeness. We disassociate, we reach for varying addictions to quell the pain. We hurt, so we cause others to hurt. We feel divided, or in pain, or have experienced something difficult that we wrapped beliefs and understandings about ourselves and the world around. We have been given illusions and patterns and beliefs and traumas from the sources around us– from our family and our culture and our varying pasts.
The most healing aspect of doing past life and ancestral work has been when I have healed these perpetrators– when I have gotten over myself enough to sit down with them and understand them with compassion.
The most healing aspect of doing my own inner work has been sitting with the aspects of myself that have caused harm to myself and others and understanding and having compassion for this part of myself.
We all have self-destructive instincts, wildness, violence, and a perpetrator within us. Although this could neatly be called “shadow” work, it really is about understanding balance, about understanding our instinctual, primal, and often predatory natures.
This aspect is always surprising when it emerges for people, as most people who have gotten to the point where they can even consider that they may have perpetrated, or have gone beyond the “forcing the shadow into light” sort of work, realize that at the base of ourselves are these violent, instinctual, and self-harming aspects of ourselves. In my book, The Spiritual Awakening Guide, I call this part of ourselves “The Destroyer”, and it is something that can be sat with for understanding, in a way to understand it. This is much different than trying to change it into “light”– this would be like trying to change a wild jaguar into a house cat. It simply isn’t, and shouldn’t be done.
By having compassion for even the “negative” aspects for ourselves, by sitting with them and asking if they are okay, offering them compassion and love like any other aspect of ourselves, we can come to a state of understanding and communion with this aspect of ourselves.
But much of the negative self-talk, the creations of the mind, the beliefs we hold about ourselves to be true about how ugly, fat, isolated, unloveable, and broken we are, come not from these instinctual levels but from aspects of ourselves that can be healed.
We can have peace. We can bring love and compassion to every single energy within ourselves, every single emotion. Anger does not need to become joy, grief does not need to become bliss, darkness does not need to become light. These thoughts are illusory, a result of a hyperfixated spiritual culture who doesn’t understand balance in spiritual pursuits and is only seeking “the light”.
The most powerful lightbringers that I know in this world are comfortable with their darkness. They do not chase it away, or change it. The truly healed (or healing) people I have met can sit with the parts of themselves that have been perpetrated against, and were perpetrators, and offer equal healing and compassion towards both.
I realize that some may not be ready for this, and it is typically a long journey to work with the broken, victimized aspects of ourselves. Having compassion for ourselves and understanding that wherever we are in our spiritual journey is exactly where we need to be is how to begin fostering compassion for ourselves, and will allow for us to let go of the competitiveness, the selfishness, and the illusory aspects of ourselves that would like to be anywhere or anything other than who we are or where we are.