In Relation to Others

What are people in our lives’ for? We live in relationships. Relationships with family, friends, work colleagues, neighbours etc. Many of our relationships are good ones but some challenge in ways that, on first glance, seem to be useless and pointless and just create difficulties in our lives.

It is these ‘bad’ relationships that provide the most wonderful opportunities to learn about ourselves and what is hidden away within us desperately trying to catch our attention. A lot of the stuff we hide away, we hide away simply because we do not want to deal it. And if this technique of suppression is a learnt modus operandi then it is very difficult to shift stuff to the surface for viewing and finally choosing letting it go.

This is where ‘bad’ relationships come into the picture. This is what they are for. The more that someone rubs us up the wrong way, gets our goat, annoys us, makes us angry, the more we need to look within to study why our response is so magnified and unnecessary.

It is always us that matters, not someone else. It is always our perception of a situation that matters and not anyone else’s. It is only us that can change a situation, not anyone else. We have to be the one to be willing to revisit why our reaction was so markedly an overreaction.

You see, those suppressed feelings that were triggered and exposed were probably planted decades before by other relationships. So, the person standing in front of you right now triggering your anger, frustration and bile, has nothing to do with how you feel right now. It is not their fault and your reaction, to them, is as confusing for them as it is for you. They are unable to see the connection between their words or actions and your sudden reaction.

It is always your responsibility in how you react to any given situation or circumstance. Since it has taken you decades to build a coping strategy of covering it all up then it is your responsibility to find different ways of handling and to begin the process of clearing and letting go.

I started this process by changing the way I use words. I have chosen to use the word experience instead of the word suffering. Suffering is such a victim word and is rather negative in stature. It takes time to learn new ways of being but don’t forget it has taken you years to develop coping mechanisms. Unpicking outdated tools is not easy.

I have also turned to looking at my feelings as they flood to the surface.

  • Is it really the person in front of me causing me anger? or
  • Is it just an echo of something years old?

The more I practice this, the more quickly I can see the stuff hidden within. I am caught off guard occasionally but the more I work at it the better it becomes.

It is surprising how quickly my brain got used to using the word experience. In fact, so good had I become, I actually forgot the word suffering for a while and really struggled to find it again when I needed it in an actual sentence.