Saturday, May 19, 2018

It’s not Hurt People who hurt people, it’s Hurting People

It’s not Hurt People who hurt people, it’s Hurting People

For some years, the phrase “Hurt people, hurt people” has helped me to understand the WHY of some of the experiences in my life and in this world. But, lately, somehow it seems too simple. 

Like this. I have met some amazing people who have been horribly hurt and they do not engage in consistent hurting of others. In fact, some of them live their lives teaching yoga in prisons, to victims of the sex trade, or to those suffering in other ways. They are thought-full, heart-full, safe and wonder-full to share time with. So, we know, for sure I know, that not all hurt people, hurt people. 

I think it is more nuanced. 

Hurt- is an adjective. It describes a state of a person- a hurt person. 

Hurting- can also be an adjective- but it’s verb-like. It is an active process- a hurting person. 

I think hurting people are more at risk for hurting others- it is an active process. Hurting happens when the hurt has trouble being-a-thing-that-has-happened and keeps being a-thing-that-is-happening.

Perhaps our most dangerous hurts are those we don’t even know are still hurting us. Those hurts create blind spots- the not-seeing-of-things that we erect grand defensive sculptures around. These defensive sculptures are built of rationalizations, righteousness, and reasons for why it is, or was, okay to behave the way we do. When we struggle like this- the hurt longs to speak- it wants to be heard and felt and processed. It’s a force. 

With an inherent drive to be expressed and no other options, the hurt lives in our behaviors. With no satisfying resolution or true validation, the hurts act themselves out over and over. And because we have erected great defensive walls around our hurts, we believe our behaviors are justified. 

And- that mess- is a self-perpetuating strategy for hurting over and over and over. 

The message -

(1) Feelings and hurts demand to be heard.
(2) The feelings and hurts that are not heard- demand voice in our actions.
(3) You will screw-up over and over and over until you listen.

To get beyond the hurting, we need to feel fully and openly. We need to sit with our feelings until we get to know them really well, intimately. We want to make friends with our feelings, seeing them as allies and messengers. We want be good listeners and holders of our own pain- so our feelings don’t demand voice in our actions.

When we do this, we get to know our hurts and our feelings. We learn the parts of feelings that are artifacts of our past, the parts that are right now and relevant to the current moment, the parts that are made of up our fears, and the parts that are concerns about the future. We listen. We learn. We see more clearly. Hurts and feelings that can be the messengers and allies they were meant to be, settle. With their job done, they rest.

The next time you hurt someone else or yourself, first, know you are lucky enough to be aware of what you are doing. Next, consider dropping the defenses and turn inward rather than blaming. Third, consider that the world does not need to be a certain way for you to not be hurting or hurtful—but maybe— just maybe-- you could be different in how you listen to and process your hurts and feelings, you can hold them, and you can effectively let them go. 

Maybe then you can stop being a hurting person and start being be one of those heart-full, hurt people who help people. And that is a badass way of being. 

Catherine Cook-Cottone, PhD, RYT-500
The Yoga Bag