Hurt People, Hurt People

While under the tutelage of Pastor Paula White I recall having heard her say (on several different occasions) that “Hurt people, hurt people.” The two clauses are profound. The first clause is fragmented and merely describes the collective’s condition; the second clause, while independent, succinctly expresses the actions of the collective. The irony is in the structuring of the statement; people who are hurting (those who are emotionally fragmented) inflict on others what has been done to them—perpetuating a cycle of dysfunction and proving that misery does in fact love company. Sad and yet true, I have come to realize that I am in the healing stages of being one such individual.

Let me first say that I don’t think that people intentionally act out for the purposes of hurting others, especially those with whom they are closest. However, hurting others does happen in the crossfires of their attempts at making sense of their world (or the collective “dream” that Don Miguel Ruiz references in his best-seller The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom). Having recently finished a second reading of the text at the suggestion of my hypnotherapist (yeah—I’ll be getting around to her later), I have come to the conclusion that:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”—Lao Tzu

 As one transforming from the emotional hurt unintentionally inflicted upon me, I earnestly believe these practical words from the esteemed Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu. If one who has been hurt no longer wants to hurt others, it merely takes one conscious step to begin the journey of recovery or transformation.

The closing of my last post referenced Romans 12:2 and serves as a springboard for todays. While many people prefer the King James Version of the bible, I myself, prefer The Message version for it’s simplistic language. So I will share both with you in an effort to be accommodating.

“And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” (KJV)

“(1) Don’t be so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. (2) Instead, fix your attention on God. (3) You’ll be changed from the inside out. (4) Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. (5) Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (The Message)

Yes, The Message version, while written in “plain English”, is longer, but is easier for me to digest and appropriate in my life. So let’s break it down.

  1. Sentence One: is imperative in its function. It is a command or request that cautions us against an uncontrolled mind and “running with the masses”. In her national best-seller Joyce Meyer notes in the introduction of Battlefield of the Mind, that:

Our actions are a direct result of our thoughts…[and] So many people’s problems are rooted in thinking patterns that actually produce the problems they experience in their lives…; [therefore] The more you change your mind for the better, the more your life will also change for the better.

All that said, we have been mandated by God to transform our thoughts in a manner that will lead us to a place of freedom and out of bondage.

  1. Sentence Two: also imperative in function, calls us to fix our attention on God. No, I wouldn’t say that our every thought should be about God (the being or spirit), but of the things of God, namely His word. I cannot tell you how much I have struggled to keep my mind on God (not so much in a literal sense, but in the sense of doing the great command—loving those as He loves us (unconditionally).
  2. Sentence Three: informs us of the benefits of such actions. In it we see the effects. If we are non-conformist to popular culture and thinking, and our thoughts are God-ward, then we shall be changed internally. And as we are being changed internally, our actions will be the evidence of those changes.
  3. Sentence Four: is a return to the imperative, and urges us to be cognizant of what God desires of us and to urgently take action.
  4. The Fifth and Final Sentence: serves as a reminder of the difference between those who are bound by their “unenlightenment” and those of us who are being transformed. With knowledge of the truth we (the enlightened) are developing a spiritual maturity that sets us apart from those who lack the knowledge to be the best version of self.

So where am I going with all of this? In the words of Bishop T.D. Jakes, “I’m glad you asked!” Today I had my first hypnotherapy session (told you I’d get around to this). It was marvelous, freeing, therapeutic and enlightening. Because I am by nature inquisitive and curious, I quickly decided that this form of psychotherapy deserved a “look-see” after I stumbled upon an advertisement in a local magazine less than a week ago. Given the fact that I have hurt people as a hurt person, I knew that I needed to make changes in my life. As one who grew up in a religiously spiritual family, I was taught at a young age to “pray about it.” But just praying about my mental and emotional dis-ease hasn’t yielded the breakthroughs that are necessary for real transformation. Yes, in years past I have made efforts at renewing my mind, but again, my previous efforts haven’t brought me to a place of sustained peace; thus my desperation for trying another alternative, hypnotherapy. Regardless of your personal belief system, I know that prayer alone was not going to get me to where I have desired to be, in perfect peace. And since faith without works (action) is dead (James 2:17), I have chosen to engage in this alternative form of therapy so that I can:

“Be the change that I wish to see in the world”—Mahatma Gandhi

The session began with us talking about the book (The Four Agreements) that she (I’ll call her Sarah) suggested I read during the consultation three days prior. I got out the journal I had purchased specifically for thoughts related to these therapy sessions, and I went to town talking about my “take aways” and the quotes that “spoke to my spirit”. Intermittently, Sarah shared her insights as a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. I appreciated her listening ear, but more so appreciated her candid honesty about the conscious act of re-reading the book about every six months. I was immediately taken aback by her statement. As an English teacher I understand the importance of rereading. I urge my students to read and reread as an act of becoming a better reader, a more conscious analyzer, but I haven’t always walked the walk. Don’t get me wrong; there are some books (You Can Pull Down Strongholds And Break Old Habits by Pastor Casey Treat) that I have read upwards of four times. I suppose I was in awe of Sarah’s statement because I have tended to pull the previously mentioned title off the shelf when “I’m desperate for a change”. Her act of purposefully rereading The Four Agreements every six months is a conscious act of continued transformation, and that has seemingly been lost to me in years past. Our talk continued as I mentioned conversations I had had with friends the past week. I told her about the notebook I’d created with positive confessions that I recite. And I even shared with her how I had allowed myself to be vulnerable in front of my students by writing them individual heart-felt letters that I distributed to them on the last day of school.

“Wow! You’ve made a great deal of progress in a short amount of time.”

“Yes. I’m serious about this. And I’m excited about it too. I don’t want to waste this experience.”

And that’s when we got down to more serious business. Calmly, she asked me the following question, “So where do you want to begin?”

I took a deep breathe; “I think the best place to start is with my self-loathing tendencies”.

While there is certainly more to the session, I will save the rest for another time. What matters most is that I have reached a place, emotionally and psychologically, where I no longer desire to hurt people with my words and actions (you know, those things that originate as thoughts), I have taken the first steps in the journey of my transformation (personal evolution). I live in the reality that this journey may not be easy; it may at times be uncomfortable and arduous. And for these reasons, I have to remind myself of wise words that I coined just a few days ago:

“Maturity is about doing what must be done despite one’s obvious desire for something less ‘confrontational’”—Me 

My transformation “cocktail” includes (Please know that I use the word “cocktail” with utmost respect):

  1. Prayer
  2. Positive Confessions
  3. Reflection
  4. Reading (and re-reading books)
  5. Hypnotherapy

Undoubtedly, our words have power and impact those around us. And as such, we are charged with spreading love and not hate with them.

“Your word is the most powerful tool you have as a human; it is the tool of magic.”

Don Miguel Ruiz

from The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

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No Guarantees

Now burgeoning on the age of thirty-nine I have to ask myself why I’m still a single, unmarried woman. Over the course of my adult life I have had ample opportunities to connect with men in an effort to progress the relationship to a more permanent status–marriage. Nevertheless, not one of my previous relationships has yielded the outcome I’ve desired for countless years. My “current situation” has left me perplexed, a little bitter, and somewhat reluctant to try again.

After each failed attempt at a lasting love I take the time to reflect over my actions with the hopes of finally achieving the “eureka” moment where the light bulb comes on and my life is forever changed because I now know the malaise that has kept me from obtaining what I so longingly desire—a permanent love connection with a man. But that hasn’t been my truth because I keep finding myself pacing around the same tree.

Just recently the man that I had been dating (with the intent of progressing the relationship to something permanent) broke up with me. No, this wasn’t the first time a man had dumped me, but that certainly didn’t make the loss any less traumatic. You see, when I met him I had plans to leave the country. I was on my way to Dubai because there was nothing and no one (male counterpart) keeping me here. And while I will admit that I didn’t expect to catch feelings for him, I didn’t stop myself from doing so. With each passing day and the interactions that ensued, I soon found myself falling for him—something I hadn’t done in nearly four years. My lack of falling for a man wasn’t so much about my lack of desire, as it was about my lack of connectivity with the men with which I had been interacting. At any rate, after falling for this man I made the decision that the possibility of love with him here was more enticing than the opportunity to live and work abroad. I soon contacted the director of the institution for which I planned to work and was subsequently released from my contract. Later that day I sent the following email to the man for whom I had recently fallen.

In just a short time you have captivated my heart. You awoke something inside me—the possibility of love. I have been in search of love all my life and it has always seemed to elude me. And when I had all but given up on the possibility, you walked into my life. You’ve ignited a passion inside me—a passion to love fully, completely and without condition. I am not asking anything of you, but that you are invested in building a future. I’m not interested in just “dating”; I want to try and build something permanent. I am aware that there are no guarantees when it comes to love, but I can guarantee that if I stay, you have my heart and my full attention. I want to stay because my heart is with you. I want to stay because the possibility of love is much more enticing than leaving this country. I want to stay…because I want you.

Now, before you cast judgment, let’s consider a thing or three. Some people might think that my decision to stay was rash and foolish.   To some degree I would concur with those individuals. Still others might consider my decision to be nostalgically romantic. And to those individuals I too would agree to an extent. Nevertheless, at the end of the day I have to embrace the decision that was made and move forward without regret(s). After all, I did state in the email to my beloved that “I am aware that there are no guarantees when it comes to love…I want to stay because the possibility of love is much more enticing than leaving this country.” Like the lyrics in the Chico Debarge song “No Guarantee”, I was essentially saying, “But I know exactly what I wanna do/I wanna make this work with you, yeah…[but] Nothing in life is guaranteed”. I knew what I was getting myself into; I knew that the relationship (which was relatively new) wasn’t destined to last. But I took the chance on him, and I took a chance on love because I wanted love more than I wanted the job opportunity.  And maybe the idea of taking a chance at love, instead of closing my heart, wasn’t such a bad decision to make after all. In the end every experience (blissful and/or sorrowful) teaches us something.

While the sting of the loss is new, there is a sense of peace that I currently feel because I am respecting his wishes and I have left him alone. I will not lie to you, or myself, and say that I don’t want him back; I do. But I refuse to be one of those women who won’t let go. I will not be one of those women who makes every attempt to insert herself into a man’s life because the idea of living without him is greater than the idea of once again being alone. Besides I’ve already tried to convince him otherwise and that failed attempt didn’t dissuade him to change his mind. Yeah, that’s right. I shed tears; I begged and pleaded for him to reconsider, and at the end of the day (yesterday in fact) he didn’t budge, so I walked out of his residence licking my wounds. After I had finally calmed down, I resolved in my spirit to seek God’s face and to give the man that I love space to determine if a life without me is better than a life with me.

Again, here is what I’ve chosen to do. I’ve chosen to dry my eyes and seek the face of God. The irony in all this is that I’ve been on the run from God because I couldn’t understand how the last man I’d fallen for could end an eighteen-month relationship with me, and just three weeks later propose to another woman. Crazy right? Yes, that’s my “ish”. Anywho, here I am (ironically) running to the face of God for solace–once again because of yet another disappointing attempt at lasting love.

However, here is the conclusion I have drawn from this last disappointing outcome. I know; wait for it! Yes, I have finally reached a point where an epiphany of sorts has entered my cranium. The light bulb is vibrant and brilliant. And the crowd collectively sighs! Nearly every time a man has shown interest in me I lose my head. I never stop to consult God about the man’s intentions or whether he would be good for me and not just good to me. Never have I stopped and prayed for discernment before I got wrapped up in the moment, in the man. Yep, that’s right. History has shown that I lose all sense of control when a man expresses interest and I reciprocate his interest. Worse still, I fold into a nice little napkin that he can trample over. I get so caught up in the idea of love and a lasting relationship that I become the proverbial doormat. Instead of maintaining my rough exterior, I melt and turn into this woman who will do whatever it takes to make the relationship profitable. I stop being inherently who I am—the fiercely outspoken and independent woman because I want to cast aside the stain of being a super-single (thirty-eight year old woman who has never been engaged or married).

Despite my formal education, I have been stuck on stupid (SOS). I recognize that relationships are work. I get the fact that nothing is promised to last forever. But I want to embark upon a relationship that defies the mundane. Perhaps I am delusional about the prospect of a lasting love where two people respect each other and make a conscious decision, each day, to work together instead of separately. I thought I had been doing that with each relationship, but maybe I wasn’t. Perhaps I was deluding myself into believing that I was making conscious attempts at working in tandem with each man for whom I had fallen. The last man I fell for said that the decisions I made lacked the consideration of his feelings. I countered that his decisions and plans rarely, if ever, did the same.

I’ve tried to rationalize my actions as well as his. But nothing seems to matter because one of us got fed up to the point that it seemed best to walk away. I want to believe that he’ll come to his senses and realize that despite the bad we experienced there was more good to latch onto, and he’ll come back to me. I am not going to hold my breath waiting. I am going to get myself together so that the next time a man shows interest I don’t lose sight of God. I will use discernment and wisdom to determine if he is for me or for someone else.

Undoubtedly, I’ve been charged to “…not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of my mind [to God’s word]—Romans 12:2