SALT LAKE CITY — This edition of LIFEadvice is about processing offenses in a more healthy way and taking back your power through changing your beliefs.
Something happened at a family party recently, and I have been so upset I can’t seem to get past it. One of my siblings said something that really offended and hurt me. I was humiliated and embarrassed. It has thrown me for such a loop I can’t find my peace again. When people say or do things that upset us, how do we manage that and process it in a healthy way? Why can’t I let it go?
This is going to be an answer that you may need to re-read and sit with it a bit. If you feel yourself resisting the ideas, consider that it might be your ego that doesn’t like what I am recommending. Ego feels more powerful if you choose to be defensive, attack back or stay angry, but your ego is not the real you. You will feel better faster if you choose a love and trust-based approach.
When someone hurts you, it is your ego (the self-image you created) that steps up to protect you by getting angry. It thinks staying upset is the only way to protect you from further mistreatment. Ego also believes you can be diminished or hurt by other people and that their words have power, but all of this is just belief, perception or story; it isn’t fact.
Consider the idea that you're scared, vulnerable, ego can be hurt, but the real you — the amazing, divine, perfect soul you really are — cannot be diminished. Consider the possibility that you are invulnerable and that nothing another person says, thinks, or does has any power to hurt you. Notice that these ideas are just belief, perception and story, too. I cannot prove these ideas are truth, but you cannot prove they aren’t.
Truth in perception
The truth in everything is perception, and your perception (the beliefs you see your life through) determine how you feel about every experience you have. So, if you are upset by something, it is only because of the way you are looking at it. There is always another way to look at it that would make you feel completely different about it.
Sit with this idea: Nothing can make you upset but yourself. It is not what happens that upsets you; it’s the thoughts you are choosing to have about what happened that make you upset. You could always choose some different beliefs that would change the story and make you feel much better.
Another idea to sit with is: You are never upset for the reason you think. You are not upset because this person said what they said. You are upset because of the meaning you are applying to their actions or words. Because they insulted you, does that mean you aren’t good enough? If others don’t think you’re not good enough, does that mean it’s true?
The only reason these ideas or meanings hurt you is because there is a part of you that already believed them before this person even came along. These ideas caused you pain because they triggered a pain you already had. Their words hurt your already “self-inflicted sore spot.” If you didn’t already believe you might not be good enough, it wouldn’t hurt you when people implied it.
Questions to ask
When you get offended, stop and ask yourself these questions, which might change the lens you are viewing the situation through:
- What did the person say or do, and what meaning am I applying to their actions?
- Is this meaning really true? Do I have any reason for wanting to believe the meaning I applied is true? Does it do anything for me? Does it earn me victim status or sympathy love?
- Does this hurt because I already believe the meaning I applied might be true? Is there a fear that this experience has just brought to the surface so I could work on it?
- Do I see myself or my life as diminishable? Do I believe their actions, thoughts or words can actually hurt or diminish me?
- If I believed that I couldn’t be hurt or diminished (unless I chose to be), is there really anything to get upset about? Can I let this situation just be an interesting lesson without letting it hurt me?
- Could I choose to believe everything is a lesson to serve me and that my value isn’t on the line?
- Do I need to create victim drama (around being hurt) to feel validated or get attention? This would be a very immature choice, and I would have to own that I am creating the whole thing to serve that purpose alone.
- Am I really upset about what they did, or am I upset because of the thoughts and fears (that I have chosen to create, believe and live with) I have? Did the other person’s actions only bring my fears to the surface?
- Do I have any other options besides being upset? Could I choose to experience this in a different way (maybe as my perfect classroom)?
- What would it look like if I chose to love myself and the other person and let us both be struggling students in the classroom of life with much more to learn?
If these questions bother you, your ego may want to keep casting the other person as the bad guy and making itself the victim. But I’m hoping you would like to feel better. The path to feeling better is through love, forgiveness, accuracy,and respect for yourself and other people.
If you choose to believe you are bulletproof because nothing can diminish your value and you're always safe, because every experience is here to serve you, teach you and bless you, you may find that there is never any reason to be upset. When people say or do hurtful things, see it as a chance to practice standing in your truth and focusing more on learning than protecting yourself.
Again, I know this one might take a little time to sit with, but keep thinking about it. With practice, you can do this.
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