Saturday, May 4, 2013

Breaking the Reactivity Cycle

We never really know if we're being manipulated or made to feel pain and suffering by others. Mostly, people don't do things deliberately to harm others. It’s just a byproduct of not being mindful or aware. That doesn't make it any easier though, does it?

The way we deal with the aftermath is by understanding that a lot of what people are doing is projection. They are suffering, and they desperately need to spread that suffering to anyone in the near vicinity. Or, they seek out the source of their pain, thinking the source of pain and suffering is an external one.

Some people are deeply wounded: wounded by their misperceptions of others, wounded by their misperceptions of reality. This is the human condition. We’re highly mistaken, and we’re surrounded by others with the same mistaken condition. Mostly, we’re reacting to these conditions. We desperately don’t want to hurt, desperately searching for the source of our painful condition.

We often actually think our unhappiness, that our suffering is being injected into us. I challenge that belief. Feelings don’t come from outside of us; feelings are already within us. Feelings are like seeds. We water seeds within ourselves and we are watered by the atmosphere and the people we surround ourselves with.

We can't make another person happy, and they can't make us happy. We can't force someone to be angry, and they can't force us to be angry. However, our actions, our words, our thoughts and our feelings impact others. We water seeds within others and within ourselves simultaneously. We cannot possibly control another person, but we can determine which seeds are watered within us.

When people upset us, or trigger our anger and frustration, we can do something different. We can have compassion for the person that is triggering us instead of reacting with anger.

It must be so terrible to just damage people so carelessly. Imagine that you're not the only one that has a similar reaction to these people. We don't have to continue this cycle. And, only we can break these cycles for ourselves. We may be unable to control others, but we don’t want to control these internal states either. We don’t want to shut down; we want to open up instead.

This is a very narrow path, one in which we must with vigilance continuously check in with where we are with our thoughts and with our feelings. Our mistakenness can sneak back into controlling us again at any time. The only way we can counteract that mistakenness is to maintain our awareness of our presence.

We must do this without becoming the prison warden of our thoughts and feelings. We want to become the caretaker, the attentive gardener instead. This is not about controlling ourselves. It’s about getting to know ourselves. Why are we the way we are? By even attempting to answer this question, we discover so much about others. This path is directly linked to the well-being of others, and that pathway starts here and now.

We simply attempt to recognize what's going on inside of us. When people are mad at us, we just go back to knowing that we have no ill intention.  We don't mean harm to anyone. That doesn't mean we haven't done harm, but we absolutely know that we wouldn't harm anyone with intention.

We only want the best for all people. We don’t want them to suffer. And, people are suffering greatly. They're in so much pain. And, the way they deal with it is damaging to us but more than that it's more damaging to them.

Finding understanding for this doesn't take away the bad acts of others. It can, however, give us space to own our own experience, to see what they're doing for what it is, to not allow ourselves to once again get roped into their mistaken way of thinking and behaving, to go back to the mistaken way we were before.

We are just like them, and they are just like us. If we keep coming back to that truth, we immediately cool down our reactivity, we immediately take care once again as opposed to continue the cycle of pain and suffering, of mistakenness, of ignorance.

Only we can break this cycle for ourselves. This begins to slowly decrease the damage we create for ourselves and for others. And, moment by mindful moment, we become a beacon in the darkness of ignorance. We can do this, we need only try.

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