“All you who feel yourselves threatened [aka, anxious or depressed] by this changing world, it’s twists of fortune and it’s bitter jests, it’s brief [and sad] relationships, and all the ‘gifts’ it merely lends, only to take away again-learn this. This world will provide you no [real nor satisfying] safety. ”
A Course in Miracles
I believe this is true.
I can see it in the eyes and feel it in hearts of many who come into my office.
And then what usually happens is a sense of real disappointment surfaces and anger will set in because they have been relying on a promise made (by society? by their partners?) that the expectations they had aren’t being met.
When this happens, people become defensive and entertain the idea that by hurting or lashing out at others, verbally attacking them, they will somehow feel better and things will be right again.
But it never can be right when this happens.
Come to think of it, your defensiveness betrays you in several ways! By making another person’s reality your own, and allowing their thinking, feeling or behaving to change your beliefs about yourself, essentially, you are admitting to the world that you are very vulnerable or you would not react this way in the first place!
So naturally, given that you believe you can be hurt, this encourages a protective response- to attack back. Verbal attack meets verbal attack. You are now joining them and playing THEIR game. And it is a game. Because when you do this, it distracts you from what you want most in all the world-a feeling of security, connection and happiness.Understand that whatever it is that you want most in this world, you must give it first. It’s the only way to get it-aka, “Giver’s Gain.”
When you verbally attack another you are the only one hurting you. If you doubt that, try an experiment and see how you feel right after you do it. Bad, huh? You’ve just lent credence to someone else’s thinking (almost as if it was indisputably
true!) and before you know it, your own feeling state has been affected.
Who is in control here? Not you!
Why would anyone want to be a part of this cycle? Someone else in this very same situation might not be affected at all by what someone says or does. They don’t allow their sense of self or security to rise and fall with the tide on a daily basis.
Pia Mellody calls this “other esteem”, not self esteem.
Of course if they did just physically attack you, that is never OK, that’s called assault and you need to immediately get yourself to a safe space away from them. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the verbal /passive aggressive reactions we find ourselves having.
So here’s a challenge for you. Starting today and for the next seven days, notice when you feel angry or defensive-like somebody just attacked you. You can feel this sense deep in your body, like they crossed an emotional line that’s not OK.
Then just stop.. take a step back and breathe three nice, deep breaths in ..and out.. ..that’s it!
Make a conscious choice not to join them in this dysfunctional game.
Then remember this truth: whatever you are feeling right now, (unless it is pure joy) is needless and YOU control it. You don’t need to defend yourself because you are not guilty. Their reality does not have to be yours unless you choose it.
Instead, take some quiet time and read these affirmations.
8 Things That Are True About You:
- I am inherently worthy of love and attention from myself and from others simply for being me.
- No one can attack me or make me feel anything unless I permit them to.
- I deserve the chance to learn about what I do not know, to ask questions in order to clarify my understanding and to determine for myself what I believe is true.
- I have a right to experience all of my feelings in a moderate way, even those that make others feel uncomfortable.
- I’m human and I am capable of and allowed to make mistakes. They are errors not irreversible “sins” and I deserve to be forgiven for them. I will learn from them and I will grow.
- I deserve to feel safe in my surroundings at all times and to ask for the space or intimacy that I would like.
- I will do my best to meet my own needs and wants and when I need help from others, I have the right and responsibility to ask for help.
- “In my defenseless, my safety lies.”- A Course in Miracles
Let me know your thoughts. Leave me a comment.
How can I be of service to you?
Have a great (and joy filled) week!
Elisa M. Thomas MA LMFT