Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Relationships, Thought | Posted on 12-22-2015
Tags: 3 Principles, Forgiveness, Love, Transformation, Wellbeing
[Jill’s Note: If you prefer to listen rather than read, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the audio version.]
I recently read a post in a Facebook group from a woman (let’s call her Jane) who was asking what people thought of the following:
Someone in her life (according to Jane): “Broke all her values, hurt her personally and deeply, made her cry and suffer and lose sleep for months.” Eventually Jane came to terms with the situation, but out of the blue the person invited her over for Christmas as if nothing had happened. She was confused and wondered what to do.
All of the responses were the opposite of what I would have said, because…
Most people still view the world from an outside-in perspective.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. We’re supposed to see the world that way. It’s just that once you’ve seen that your entire experience comes from within you, you can never look at life the same way.
You may find this a little off the wall. You may even get mad at me for saying it because it puts the way you feel squarely on you. But I implore you to look at it with an open mind. If you do, you may hear something that changes your experience of life in miraculous ways!
To me, what happened to Jane is obvious. While it looked, felt and seemed to Jane like her friend made her feel horrible, that’s not what happened. It’s impossible for someone or something to make anybody feel a certain way. For real.
The only thing that made Jane suffer was her own thoughts.
There I said it.
The way Jane responded seemed to her to be the only way to react. She innocently took what her friend said or did and created a story about it in her own head.
Because that’s what we do. All of us.
In order to experience anything, it has to come from what’s going on in our thoughts. Jane decided/determined that her friend was inappropriate and hurtful based on all she knew to be true and real for her thus far in her life. And she held onto it (her thoughts about the situation) as if it were an absolute truth.
But it wasn’t.
I have no idea what was done or said to Jane, but it doesn’t matter. Her friend may have been joking, or may have purposely tried to be an ass. The fact is there is no one way (or truth) that defines the situation. Even if 99 out of 100 people would have reacted similarly to Jane, that reaction is still not the absolute truth. If only one person in the entire world reacted differently then it cannot be the situation or other person causing Jane’s suffering.
We all have our own unique beliefs, experiences and rules for what’s right and wrong, and we filter our experiences through this one of a kind life-lense. Jane’s suffering came from her filtered interpretation of what happened, and not from her friend or the event itself.
From what we know of her story, her friend may not have even known anything happened between them. Jane being invited for Christmas out of the blue suggests that in the friend’s mind their relationship may have been the same as it had ever been. It’s possible this friend harbored no ill will towards Jane.
She created her own suffering.
As we all do.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the other person didn’t say or do something to Jane. The physical facts of the situation were what they were. But if you look at it closely and unbiasedly, you can see how Jane’s interpretation came 100% from her own thoughts.
While seeing and understanding this is freeing for many, it’s a hard pill to swallow for others. The idea that we create our own suffering is often a huge blow to our ego which prefers to put the blame elsewhere.
This is why I didn’t comment on Jane’s Facebook post. Telling her that her months of suffering came from her own thoughts probably wouldn’t have gone over very well. The comments she received told her she shouldn’t have to deal with insensitive people who made her suffer. Some told Jane to give her (ex)friend a piece of her mind so she would know how bad the situation made her feel. All fair comments in an outside-in world, and perhaps even good advice for Jane.
But technically they were incorrect.
Lest you think I’m a pompous ass who never blames others or situations for my own suffering–I assure you that isn’t the case. The pompous ass part might be true, but I definitely don’t always see my life situations with such clarity.
For instance, I’m currently in a situation where it’s nearly impossible for me to see how my own thoughts are causing my suffering. It’s quite ironic (and I do have to laugh) that in the midst of writing this post I’m surrounded by people who are “making me crazy.” Like seriously making me F’ing crazy! And it doesn’t matter how much I know that it’s coming from my own thinking, at this point, I don’t see it that way.
Somehow knowing the truth intellectually–even without embodying it–helps. It keeps me from getting as annoyed as I might otherwise. Which in turn enables me to deal with it in a slightly better state of mind. (Slightly being the operative word!) The better my state of mind, the more equipped I am to handle things.
One thing I’ve learned, however, is that those people who seem to cause me the most distress, are also my greatest learning opportunities. That said, if this is new to you, I don’t recommend trying to see it with your closest and toughest relationships. Instead, look at some of your easier ones and see if there’s even the remotest possibility that it’s true. If you can’t see it with those, look at other people’s relationships. Can you see where their own filtered thoughts are different than yours? Can you imagine how you may have reacted differently under the same circumstances?
The moment you catch a glimpse of this, the world will start to change before your very eyes!
P.S. I had an afterthought about this which I posted as a comment below. Feel free to respond as well!
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