So much of the encouraging, uplifting, “fix-your-life-yourself” stuff out there lately seems to share the same advice: get rid of the people who hold you back. The people who weigh you down. The people who hurt you, who abuse you, who take advantage of you.
A wise woman once taught me that hurting people hurt people.
If someone hurts me, it’s most probably because they are in pain (or I’m too sensitive, but that’s the subject of another day’s ramble). The pain they’re in might even be my fault. Probably not, though. In all likelihood, the pain I feel is real and unjustified, and the advice to ditch that person seems wise and sound. It’s all about healthy boundaries, after all.
But – that person is in pain.
It’s clear that the person who hurt me lacks the tools to express that pain healthily. Because if they had the tools, they’d have used them, surely?
So, in other words, not only has this person been hurt, they have also been disabled – disadvantaged, if you will – by being denied the basic tools they need to heal themselves and stop hurting those around them.
I offer the view that perhaps the very last thing they need, in all the world, is one more rejection. One more person turning away. One more ‘friend’ saying, “Sorry, I can’t do this. You’re too hard to deal with.”
I have the tools, the strength, the emotional health to have strong and clear boundaries, then I have more than that hurtful person does. And perhaps, just maybe, I could be of use. Perhaps, just maybe, I could save a life.
It actually doesn’t take that much.
It’s a simply sacrifice: my pain for theirs. I choose not to take offence. I choose not to be hurt. Instead of allowing their attack to cloud my vision and blind me with rage, I allow it to illuminate my mind, to open my eyes to the need in another person’s life.
I have a chance to say,
I see you. I get it. I’m here.
If I have the resilience to say, “I choose my own happiness; I create my own joy”, then I have the resilience to say “I can do without that happiness – for a little bit – for the greater joy of easing your pain.”
Surely, if there’s one thing this life teaches us, it’s that we all have pain. It’s a road each of us must walk. For reasons that elude me we all seem to believe we ought to walk it alone. Perhaps we believe the lie that we are alone.
But we are not.
I may not share your specific pain, but I share pain. I know it. I feel it. You are not alone.
I don’t judge you for hurting. I don’t hate you for hurting me. I love you.
And I’m here.
Is that not the least service we owe to our fellow man? Is life really about finding my own happiness? Or is it about igniting joy in as many lives as I can possibly touch?
While I’m not advocating that anyone be a doormat, or rescind their healthy boundaries, I am humbly suggesting that each of us set ourselves aside, just a little bit, and see if there’s anything we could do for someone before we discard them for being “too hard”. Be the change you want to see in this world. - Mahatma Ghandi