One of the possibilities that occur in relationships is that we will experience hurt. For some hurt comes early in life as a result of uncaring or immature parenting. For others hurt may come from the breakup of a first love. Then there are those of us who seem bent on creating circumstances that can have no outcome other than being deeply hurt and scarred for life.
Mark Nepo, in “The Book of Awakening,” suggests that there are many ways in which we may discover how to get beyond a hurtful experience. He says that like a radio that can only receive one station at a time, we may think there is only one way to resolve a difficult relationship. In reality there are many stations being broadcast at the same time, but we choose the one we are listening to. Further he states:
“. . . compassion is a deeper thing that waits beyond the tension of choosing sides (choosing a station). Compassion, in practice, does not require us to give up the truth of what we feel or the truth of our reality. Nor does it allow us to minimize the humanity of those who hurt us. Rather, we are asked to know ourselves enough that we can stay open to the truth of others, even when their truth or their inability to live up to their truth has hurt us.”
As a principle of faith, I accept that feeling hurt is a choice I make in how I respond to a hurtful experience with another person. The fact is, in such a situation we are in pain. We will stay in that pain until we decide we have had enough it and move on. Life does not consist only of that particular hurtful experience for any of us. It is up to us to decide that there are other parts of our life that we can pay attention to that will allow us a momentary change of perspective. If, in that more serene moment, we can focus our attention on the power of compassion, we will find that we have changed the station to which we are listening. We hear life in a different way and our pain will recede.
Compassion takes us to another level of our experience of relationship. It does not take sides in the issue. Rather we are then in a position to reaffirm our truth and our reality while at the same time recognizing there is a truth the other person is attempting to express. Life does not require that we all share the same truth. In fact, individuality requires of us a separate but equal reality. It is when we judge what the “equal” notion should be that we get into trouble. We have an equal right to see our reality in our own way and to live with the consequences.
Moving past the hurt will eventually require of us some action. Hurt does not go away by ignoring it. It simply falls into the deeper recesses of our consciousness. That is why some situation from our past may suddenly surface for seemingly no reason. A current event is like the straw that breaks the camel’s back. That has happened to me, as I am sure it has for others. I felt that was what surfaced for a friend when I attempted to share the excitement about an experience I was having. The truth of my experience as I saw it was one thing. The truth of the other person clearly saw something quite different. I was staggered at first and my own past hurts began to surface with the accompanying anger. At first it was easy to blame my feelings on the action of the other person. Fortunately, I did not respond out of the environment of the now surfaced anger. Instead, through working with the facets of the relationship in my mind and heart I found the compassion Mark Nepo wrote about. The anger was the first to go after that. Then I realized I had no reason to be hurt. The truth of my experience was still real, still true. I was able to return to the joy and satisfaction of my life.
It is not always easy to let go of the things that we feel have produced hurt in our lives. The choice is ours whether we let go or not. No matter how remote some of those other stations are that are broadcasting, we owe it to ourselves to search for them. Tune into the one(s) that bring you to those peaceful moments where you can see things more clearly and resolve any issue that has produced hurt.