A couple weeks ago, I had a moment with my son that I was not proud of, and I felt it really necessary to share with my readers, as it directly relates to what I preach; a what NOT do moment, if you will.
You see, I spend most of my time with the people coming to me, trying to rewrite their own story. I do my best to help them see the self underneath those stories; they are not what their parent’s or peers said they were back in the day, they are not what life has taught them they are, they are not their circumstances and they are not broken. They are not their shame.
You would be surprised how digesting this information on a soul level, on a wisdom level starts to transform someone’s perspective, behavior, happiness, and ability to fulfill their own potential.
It’s not new information. I certainly didn’t come up with this concept, but when it is truly understood and digested, it is absolutely life-changing.
I work with people on this every day, and I have for many years. Because I am near obsessed with understanding human behavior, self-development and spirituality, I absorb everything I possibly can. I spend my days in this world of diving into self-understanding.
And yet, there I was in my car on the way to school (after an epic Halloween sugar-meltdown with my three-year-old the night before). He was sparring using a baby food pouch with his one-year-old sister in the back seat. I thought the pouches were empty. I wasn’t thinking. I was tired. Oh man, I have been so tired for so long. My son, one of the deepest loves of my life (and so far, my greatest challenge) has been stretching me in so many ways for the past two years; physically, mentally, emotionally. When I opened his car door, there was baby food everywhere. On the car-seats, both of their clothes, the ceiling of the car. It was like a baby-food murder had occurred. I’m sure, years from now, I will laugh with abandon, but not at that moment.
Standing in the parking lot of his school, and already feeling raw, behind and struggling, the rage flew in quickly like a hot swarm of angry wasps. It was like I was standing outside of myself, no longer in control, watching MYSELF sting my son repeatedly.
“What is WRONG with you?!?! What is wrong with you?!?!” I repeated as I revved myself up.
“Seriously, there is something wrong with you!”
“I’m sorry! Mommy… I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” he appealed.
“No, you’re not! No, you’re not! There is something wrong with you!” I continued, sharply screaming.
Okay, so if I was watching another Mother do this, I would have been shocked, shaking my head, my hand over my heart, feeling for that kid, wanting to judge her. Wanting to make her wrong.
Yet, there I was. Ms. Life-Coach. Ms. Trying to Be Evolved. Ms. Universal Truth Seeker; reduced to an adult temper tantrum, engaging in the public shaming of a pre-schooler.
Of course, after, I myself experienced shame. There were tears after I dropped him of that day. Because I am a self-compassion ninja these days, I put my hand over my heart and told myself the truth.
At that moment, that was the best you could do. You were doing your best.
You will choose differently next time.
Now I realize that instance was pretty damn tame compared to what clients have shared with me over the years. But I share that because even the people who shaped our stories, who hurt us, who shamed up, who humiliated us were doing the best they could, with the awareness they had, with the tools they had at hand, with the burden of pain they carried that day, to get a need met.
If a human isn’t capable of BEING with their pain or their emotion, they WILL off-load it.
And even though it feels so incredibly personal to us, it is just how people cope with getting the FEELING away from them, off of their heart. They need somewhere to put it. They need someone to blame. It is how they regulate their emotional life to return to balance or a neutral state.
That day, whatever I was feeling felt too big. I didn’t have the tools at that moment or for whatever reason, I didn’t have the strength to access them.
I share this because it’s important to understand, that even someone who STUDIES this stuff, who has a lot of awareness of why we do what we do, who has the INTENTION to align with loving kindness, who coaches people daily is reduced to moments they are not proud of, sometimes on a daily basis.
And if someone who studies this stuff, who does have that intention can fall that short, can be that triggered that easily by a THREE YEAR OLD, than, of course, someone who doesn’t have that kind of awareness or understanding may have off-loaded their deep pain on you, again and again, and shaped the way you saw yourself. They may have written a narrative that you bought into early and treat with absolute loyalty.
And it may not have been nearly as personal and you thought it was.
It was about them, about their inability to BE with the too-bigness they didn’t understand.
Hurting others, blaming others, lashing out, hating, manipulating, demeaning, humiliating–they are the way we feel more in control of our own experience and the bigness of this existence, it is how we stay safe from the enormity of things, of feeling like we are going to drown.
To realize that we all victims of one another, and that others are our victims too, even if we never intend it to be so, can leave room for…more curiosity about the human condition and because we are all human too, more self-compassion.
We are not the stories that someone handed to us, in their moment of passing off their pain.
Of course, my son is not broken. He is doing exactly what is he supposed to be doing. My son is SO much bigger than that one moment, but moments like that shape a person’s identity and self-understanding. We affect other human beings so much more than we realize.
Recognizing that can sometimes help us find more freedom in our own stories. That, we too, are capable of shaping another because of our own inability to be with our pain. That we help to write others stories as well, stories we aren’t even aware of.
So, to the best of your ability, while still taking care of your heart, remain curious about the people who shaped your shame, your narrative , and where they were in their own journey of this crazy human experience, what led them down the path they traversed, what pain they might have been off-loading to you because they didn’t know how to be with it.
It may still hurt. There may still be seemingly irreparable damage. But at least know, it wasn’t you, love. It wasn’t about your worth or enoughness. It didn’t mean anything innately about you. And you don’t have to continue to hold the pain they passed to you at that moment. It’s okay to put their pain down now.
Get curious about how you too are passing your own pain along to others and potentially feeding into their shame and pain. We are all victims of victims, and we each have the power to break the cycle and start to be with our own pain long enough to transform it into something usable and purposeful, to start to transform it into love.