When presented with the opportunity to be compassionate, we often hold back. We go as far as we can, but we are often unable to love freely and openly. We become anxious and afraid. We fear that if we open our hearts we might be rejected. Why do we feel this way? Where does that come from?
The simple answer is that we learned it. We have asked to be loved many times and been found wanting and rejected. Each day we look to life for love and acceptance, and most of the time we come away feeling shortchanged.
Our learning begins in childhood. Every child needs to be loved, but few children receive the unconditional love they need. It is not that our parents were bad people, it is just that they had not learned to freely give their love. Consequently, when you came along, you didn’t get what you needed. Your parents did they did the best they could, but they had their own issues.
Children cannot understand adult psychology. A child knows that the love she needs is there, but that it is also sometimes withheld, and she has no explanation as to why. Unable to resolve what is happening, and powerless to do anything about it, the child does the only thing she can. She turns the situation in on herself. She blames herself for the failure. In effect she says, “Mother is withholding her love, she says that she loves me, so . . . . there must be something wrong with me.” This situation will repeat itself many times during the course of her childhood. And the child’s conclusions begin a destructive downward spiral that she will struggle against for the rest of her life.
Unable to find resolution, she will probably sell out then and learn the art of social theater. She will turn into a pleaser (or rebel) to get at least a semblance of what she needs. In the process she will disconnect from her own feelings and from the realities of life. She will feel anger and hurt at being refused love, but most of that will be internalized. It is not emotionally safe to express what she really feels. Feeling powerless also plays heavily into the situation. This all leads to substantial feelings of frustration that when internalized, devastate her sense of self worth. When externalized, those feelings can be directed towards other people, minority groups, society in general or God. These are safer targets than her parents.
She will then go out into the wider world carrying the stigma of her beliefs. Because of her behavior and choices, her beliefs will be further reinforced. When she reaches adulthood, she will probably go into therapy, read books and maybe even go to workshops, looking for ways to ease the bumps of a tumultuous and painful existence. However, it is not likely that she will address what she holds at the core because, even though it began as a significant misunderstanding – there never was anything wrong with her – the misunderstanding forms the basis of who she thinks she is. Her entire life is built around those beliefs. Letting them go, no matter how counterproductive they are, is a death.
She believes that she really is inadequate and unlovable, and the last thing she wants to do is to expose that repulsive space. If she opened up her insides and found out that her worst fears were confirmed, what would she do? She would rather find ways to cope as best she is able, in spite of her pain and feelings of worthlessness. (This is where, by the way, the shamanic journey can be so useful because it helps a person untangle those shamanic journey, deeply held beliefs from a safe place.)
Humans have a compelling need to inwardly reconcile troubling situations. We are unable to just let a conflict hang without giving it some sort of explanation. When we are unable to reconcile with the truth because of an ego limitation, like a personal bias, we create an artificial resolution. We rationalize. Our need to protect the ego can be so strong that we will even rationalize away the truth. If you have a problem with someone and are reluctant to look at your own behavior, you are likely to blame the other person. “She’s just being emotional.” “Boy is he a jerk!” Partners don’t say it openly, but in couples counseling one essentially hears, “If only he/she’d get his/her stuff together, my life would be fine.” That sort of thinking eases the conflict, at least in your mind, and it gets you off the hook for your part in creating the problem – for the moment.
The remarkable thing about false beliefs is that they push us to make flawed decisions. These inevitably lead to pain. There is only one path, and when we do not take it, life gets difficult. Sooner or later you get tired of the pain and begin to look for answers that the self-help books and therapy cannot provide. It’s not an easy process, but ridding yourself of the burdens you have carried your entire life is remarkably freeing, and it can be done. It’s not easy, and you have to really want it, but the results are remarkable.
The view we have taken here is a decidedly human perspective. There are also several somewhat larger viewpoints that give a somewhat different picture.
copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016