Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Feel Your Way

A woman with thirty years of marriage under her belt and five children to her credit got a big shock one day. Her husband ran off with their attractive and much younger accountant. Although this story is not unique, this abandoned wife had a highly interesting perspective.

She said, "Gabe was a difficult man, but we never gave him feedback about his behavior when he berated us - for what he thought was our own good. Maybe if we told him how it made us feel he would have changed. We denied him the opportunity to grow because he never knew."

Her insight struck a deep chord. How many of us silently react to the actions and words of another without letting him know his impact? Smoldering inside with a smile on one's face, or hurting inside but pretending you've deflected harsh word/acts, won't go very far in helping the aggressor to know his impact. And if he doesn't get a light shone on the results of his behavior, everyone is left in the dark to keep wandering down the road of disharmony.

Even psychopaths and sociopaths could probably gain some empathy if they were consistently confronted with the suffering they inflicted on one or more human hearts. But for the moment let's consider the average person, although no such thing exists. Most people want to get along, to be happy, to lead a peaceful life. But a Gordian Knot of past experiences, learned behavior, and ignorance of skillful communication lead to breakups, fights, and damaging imprints on the psyche.

If our universal person dishing out the dirt could be honestly told, "When you scream at me, I feel like I want to die it hurts so bad," it gives that perpetrator the opportunity to think about what they are doing. But if one cries and hides, or calls the other person some nasty names, a cycle of emotional violence continues. It's about telling the other how you feel and not telling them what an asshole they are. 

Try this method some time. Express how someone's behavior makes you feel. It's not as easy as it seems. We are conditioned to fight fire with fire, to meet rage with counter rage. We are conditioned to hide our feelings because showing them would make us vulnerable. But when we do let the other know that their actions have hurt us, without hurling back accusations and judgments, the possibility of an amazing transformation just might become a reality.

As with all things in the learning curve of life, repetition probably yields the best results. Firstly, most of us are not used to expressing our feelings although expressing our thoughts roll off our tongue like a carnivore's saliva when contemplating a steak on the barbie. 

But with practice comes results. The more we acclimate to telling others how their behavior makes us feel instead of counter-attacking or dying inside, the better the chance of positive evolution.

Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye make the whole world blind." So next time someone tries to take away your sight, give back insight. It just might work.

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