Last week, Ty said:
I’ve got about half of this down pat – the empathizing part – but am still struggling with the unruffled part. Ehhh. If you write a post on how to be self-contained and safe without losing the empathy, I would love you even more. Just sayin’.
Now, who could say no to a request like that?
At first, I was really excited. I love it when people ask for advice! But then, I realized, there’s something very different about me.
I’m always safe.
Always. People don’t take my energy. They can’t take my power. They can’t contaminate or sully me. They cannot coerce or exploit me.
If I’m in a position of weakness, it’s because I put myself there. I’m not afraid of getting hurt, because I can only really be damaged if I believe I can be damaged. It’s like the stories about ghosts, you know? They can only hurt you if you believe they can hurt you. And I don’t believe anyone can hurt me, but me.
The trouble is, because I’ve always been this way, I don’t know how to show people how to do it. I know lots of people who give bits of themselves away. Especially the nurturers. It’s like, death by a thousand cuts. Other people associate with people who suck their energy. I don’t think that people are actually absorbing the energy of their victims (they never seem to derive much benefit from it) but I think that people mimic the people around them. And if the people around you are dead inside — well.
You have to kind of see yourself in “splendid isolation.” You are a sovereign being. No one controls you.
But, as I said, I don’t have a lot of practical advice beyond that.
But something I can offer are ways to make you feel less beleaguered.
- People hardly ever mean to hurt you on purpose. Occasionally they are lashing out, but mostly its just a defence mechanism gone horribly awry. Havi Brooks calls this throwing shoes. The shoes are never about you. You just got caught in the cross-fire.
- Every villain is the hero of his own story. It’s just a simple reframe, but so powerful. If the other person in your situation were the protagonist, how would he see the situation? What are his goals, his motivations? What is he feeling defensive about?
- Pain is not the end of the world. Pain is pain. It sucks, but it’s not eternal. Most of the time, it’s not even as bad as you’re afraid it will be. The Buddha said “Life is suffering”. That’s not as depressing as it sounds. It just means that suffering and pain will always be around, and it’s something you’re going to have to endure, like the weather. Bitching and moaning about the weather might make your suffering worse, or it might make it better, but it’s sure as fuck not going to change the weather.
Hope that helps, Ty.