We Behave Badly Because We Hurt Inside - And The Antidote.
Not long ago there was a bomb threat at my child's school. Though it turned out to be a hoax, it left me shaky for days. This cruel incident, along with a few others involving gun violence in a couple of the communities I have been associated with, made really clear to me that the bubble I thought I lived in is an illusion. I, we, my family, you, your children – we are not immune to the violence that is showing up all over our globe.
Guns and bombs are not the only symptoms of this spreading disease.
More insidious are the sharp words and smaller offenses within our own homes, within our own heads. Against the very beings we should love best. Like our life partners and our children—and ourselves.
As I see this, I feel even more convinced that the work I do in the world as a Relationship and Life Coach is so very needed right now. Because most of us wage small or large wars inside ourselves all day long.
The cruelty we see in the world outside us is a macrocosmic reflection of our own inner life. We perpetrate aggression within our own selves first, and it gives rise to the rest of it.
As John Welwood writes, “Behind all evils of the world is the pain of a wounded disconnected heart. We behave badly because we hurt inside.”
Healing our wounded hearts and becoming emotionally intelligent might not feel important right now, but when we are in fear or despair or angry reaction we are tense and contracted. Our nervous systems get stuck in fight or flight, making us feel lack and separation. Then we become judgmental and cruel and want to attack or shut down. We end up acting brashly, saying or doing hurtful things to others.
Which only hurts us in the end, cut off from our own heart as we are. Our relationships suffer from this and we feel even more alone.
This is where the weirdly named field of “Life Coaching” comes in powerfully handy. A silly name for such incredibly peace promoting work. But don't judge a book by its cover, right?
What life/relationship coaching does for us is to diffuse the metaphorical bombs we throw at ourselves and our loved ones ( and literal ones, too – if only those so inclined would get some life coaching!).
Here's an example from my life of what those internal bombs might look like in our moment to moment daily life:
While writing this today I received a text form my honey in response to a reminder, freckled with sweet emoticons, that I texted him. His response was kurt with no sweet emoticon in sight.
My immediate reaction was an internal “Ouch! He doesn't love me enough to express it”; a wanting to write back some snide thing, a clamping down in my gut, fight or flight and self protection rearing their wild heads...
But this was only the briefest moment. Due to my training, I am so aware of my mind's trickery that I simply noticed and stopped the crazy thought train from taking control. I said to myself, “He is in business mode and is building our house as a huge gift of love to me and our family. Every moment of this day is a giant emoticon of kindness to me. “
This all happened in a matter of 5 seconds! Cruel impulse instantly turned to sense of deep gratitude and compassion. That is the magic of Coaching.
Had I acted out on that initial fear-based impulse to write back some snide thing, how would that have affected him and our relationship? How would it have affected how good I felt about myself 90 seconds later when the charge of emotion wore off? The answer is: dreadfully. It would have been an act of violence, small though it may seem, to him and myself.
Here's the thing: we all had coaches or teachers for all kinds of activities: sports, math, debate, art, etc. But we were not taught how to handle our hard emotions – arguably the most important ability to have!!! To skillfully handle the fear and anger and sadness that comes from our mind's lack based thinking is essential.
Luckily for us, now we do have “coaches” for that! It is time to rise up and learn the skills we need to have a a peaceful world inside our own minds and hearts – for the sake of our families and our children. For the sake our own joy in being alive in this beautiful world.
Start with yourself: As you simply pay attention to the way your mind talks to you about yourself and others, you will be able to soften the damage wrought from your inner aggressor.
So, how about you? How do you treat yourself when you make a mistake? Do you shame yourself, saying things like, “ That was STUPID!! Why can't I get things right!? I am so messed up!” etc? And how do you treat your partner (either in words or in your head) when he or she says something you don't like?
Let's start talking about it! Please bring it out of the dark closet of your mind and share with us by commenting below.