Some people act dishonestly; some lie; some are hypocritical. part of growing up psychologically and spiritually is noticing all this but without censure or retaliation. We do not willingly allow others to be dishonest or hurtful toward us if we can prevent it. If they are, we ask for amends. If all we do fails, we let go. If those we respect as teachers or models turn out to be hypocrites in their personal lives, that does not diminish the legitimacy of their teaching. An adult knows that the teachings are the teacher. The person who teaches is only a mouthpiece, and a piece is hardly ever perfect. I appreciate the ferry ride even when the ferryman proves to be a rascal.
Sometimes people keep their promises and sometimes they do not. Sometimes people love us loyally and faithfully, even unconditionally. Sometimes they hate, reject, abandon or betray us. An adult has learned to take all this in stride. We feel the pain, but it does not devastate or destabilize us. We receive love with openness and appreciation. We receive loyalty with gratitude. We handle betrayal with the strength we gained from our psychological work. We let go of retaliation and act with compassion thanks to our spiritual practices. We do not want to be so strongly affected by what others do that we lose our own ability to love, which is all that matters to us now.
Our spiritual practice of loving-kindness toward all beings helps us join this tougher skin to a tender heart. This is how hurts help us find our own potential for unconditional love and unconditional compassion. People do things that injure us, but later we realize that was how they pushed us through a gate in ourselves that we never guesses was there. The hurt we felt was the sensation of being pushed.
We may distinguish two kinds of hurt: intentional and consequent. Intentional hurt happens when people leave us in a cruel and thoughtless way. This leads us to feel sorrow, and in spiritual consciousness, we feel this pain without plan to retaliate. Consequent hurt happens as the natural and inevitable result of events and reasonable choices. For example, our partner ends out relationship in a kind and respectful way. We both tried our best but the relationship was not meant to be. We feel hurt, but this is consequent hurt, not intentional hurt, and it leads to grief and moving on.
Sometimes we hurt others. If we do so intentionally, we experience guilt, the built-in signal that helps us know that it is time to make amends. If hurt happens as a result of a legitimate choice, such as leaving an unhealthy relationship, we do not blame ourselves. We find ways to leave with kindliness, not acrimony, and we remain available to share in our partner's grieving for however long that may be appropriate.
When others do not acknowledge us or they snub, reject or ignore us, it is perfectly natural to feel hurt, since we are made of penetrable stuff. We should allow ourselves to feel the hurt rather than run from it, If we feel the hurt more intensely than seems to fit the bill, we may want to examine ourselves and ask if our ego has reared its demanding head. If so, we can look at our FACE in the mirror and say:
Fear: I am afraid that I will not survive if everyone does not love me, and this is how I am a source of suffering to myself
Attachment: I am attached to a very specific version of what I am owed, and this is how I am a source of suffering to myself.
Control: I need to control others' reactions to me, and this is how I am a source of suffering to myself.
Entitlement: I believe I am entitled to love and loyalty from everyone and insist on it, and this is how I am a source of suffering to myself.
I am letting go of fear by showing more love and finding excitement in life's challenges.
I am letting go of attachment to my version of how others should act and I accept the given of life that not everyone will be lovin, truthful, honest, caring, or loyal to me all the time.
I am letting go of control and let others love or dislike me as they choose.
I am letting go of my insistence that I be loved and respected by everyone, and choose to focus instead on being loving and respectful toward everyone I meet. That is what matters to me now.
I am always aware that I also am not loving and loyal all the time and I am working on that.
- Excerpt from The Five Things We Cannot Change... and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them by David Richo.