Compassion II

How full is your cup? If you are a typical Westerner, you will focus on what you don’t have. Ask that question to someone living in the Third or Fourth world and they will focus on the things they do have – what’s in their cup. Our lives in this culture are so built around “stuff” that we lose sight of what’s really important. That’s by design. It drives the economy.

When you connect with the wounded one inside, she will speak of feeling a lack of love, feeling inadequate, not accepted – that sort of thing. Her early experiences poisoned the waters in which a healthy self-image could have been created. She’s inside saying, “What about me?” “What about my needs?” “I’m hurting in here!” This is the source of your dissatisfaction with life that, when unfulfilled, gets expressed as a desire for stuff to hide your feelings of inadequacy.

And you don’t want to hear it. You don’t want to deal with what she is feeling and the implications behind it. Your focus on external things – clothes, friends, furnishings, your career, money – as ways to cover over her feelings of lack, of emptiness. After all, she feels as though she doesn’t “deserve” to be loved.

But it’s a lousy band aid. It really doesn’t work. It’s a drug. There is no way to sooth your/her inner emptiness with things. Although you keep trying. But for the moment, with the drug you don’t hurt, but unfortunately the pain doesn’t really go away. There will never be enough. The hole cannot be filled with stuff or false feelings.

Narcissism and its handmaiden, materialism, is rampant in the West, and it is getting worse by the day. What hedge fund manager, CEO or athlete needs to earn hundreds of millions of dollars while children starve, war vets sleep in the streets and heroin addicts die in hovels? I don’t want to be too categorical, but the argument could be made that a significant part of the population just doesn’t give a damn about them or thinks that these people should just go out and get jobs so they would be like the rest of us.

As culture and as individuals, we are engaged in an endless and hopeless pursuit to hide from our pain. One of the other ways we cope is to keep moving so fast that we don’t feel. The pace of life in the West is so fast that you can hardly keep up with it, as we chase after the false rabbit of inner peace  – as if it were running away from us.

The universality of this struggle tells us that there is more going on here than appears on the surface. If this were simply a behavioral problem, say something even as heinous as slavery, we would have solved the problem long ago and moved on. But this problem hangs around like a seagull chasing a fish cart, so we know we must look deeper.

So what is this “hole” we feel in ourselves that we try so desperately to fill? Your wounded inner child is the source of your feelings of lack and inadequacy. Look at your reactions to life. You can allow some situations to pass you by and not really react to them. On the other hand, if you see a picture of a starving child or a chained dog and you go over the top instead of just responding, that tell us that she is projecting her inner pain out onto the situation.

The excessive reaction to the dog or the starving child triggers her inner pain. That’s obvious. But what about a cross word from a sibling or your partner? What gives them special access? They know you. They can see the truth. And If what they say is negative, they could be right! You give them to power to reinforce the negative things you are willing to believe about yourself. That is why your buttons get pushed and you feel as though you must defend yourself.

But notice also – and this is important – that this process does not work in reverse. If someone says something positive, it hardly penetrates. The process is designed for one purpose – to make you feel badly about yourself so that you won’t take risks. It is part of the ego’s system of insuring that you don’t get hurt by making you duck beneath other people’s radar.

Otherwise, you would listen to them, see if what they had to say had any validity and if not, let their comment or criticisms fall away! And there are some people who are so sensitive that a comment even from a stranger can set them off.

The important thing to remember is that aside from Universal Truths – which are always true – every other belief you hold (especially the ones you hold about yourself) cannot possibly be true! And perhaps what is even more detrimental is your tendency to accept carte blanche, whatever criticism other people are willing to shovel out.

So what we are speaking of here is her damaged self-image. And dealing with it is no small matter. Even with a trained shaman to guide you and using the shamanic journey process, you are looking at a good deal of work to bring her around. But it can be done. And the things is, you are going to have to do it anyway!

There are a few effective practices that, if you will do them, can make a great deal of difference in your life while you work to heal your wounded inner one. The first is a technique that Krishnamurti taught that he maintained was his “secret to life.” Krishnamurti looked at every situation and reminded himself that:


We make situations matter. Good lord! the time and energy we expend over situations that have little real consequence! In truth most situations don’t, except to our egos. This is especially true when you realize that you cannot be harmed. The people involved your life situations are important, very important, but that is a significant distinction. What Krishnamurti was trying to teach us was to make the people very important, but not the situations.

Gay Hendricks does something similar when he teaches people to say, “So what!” to life situations. I want to be careful here. This is not a “screw you” to the other person. It is an attempt to untangle you from the situation and again, shift your focus to what is really important. Interestingly enough, when you do this, you can actually be more open to actually see and feel what really is troubling the other person.

So your partner is upset. “So what!” he gets to be mad if he needs to! You don’t have to like it, but at the same time, don’t get all caught up in the fact that he is upset. Always be aware that there may be something you need to look at, so always, always, see and feel their pain, because you may want to look into your behavior. But, the “so what!” is to keep you from getting sucked into the drama!

You never want to fully disconnect from people because, after all, it is through other people that we learn! That’s why social isolation, although sometimes appealing, is not really helpful. It makes it more difficult to finish what you came here to do. When someone gets upset with me, I don’t like it, but there is always an important piece of learning there for me.

This is an adapted post from my new book About Life, now available in paperback and eBook editions. For more extracts and testimonials, click here.

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2017

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