pain can make you cruel

words & photo by Brian Thompson.

have you ever had one of these moments?

you’re perfectly content and calm, and within an instant you find yourself lashing out in haste and grossly overreacting to something someone said. admittedly, it was inconsequential and small, but it accidentally touched a sore spot, an open wound from a still-exposed and unhealed emotion that’s still incredibly raw.

unknown to anyone else — the topic touched was your most sensitive vulnerability.

perhaps it’s a pain you’ve intentionally ignored because it’s too scary to confront, or maybe it’s a hurt you just haven’t been able to find the courage to accept and forgive just yet, and so you continue to deny it, resist it, and fight it, and it results in you falling downward into a spiral of overblown defensiveness.

you deflect someone’s innocent words because they somehow feel like daggers, and you then attack back with sharply-barbed words of your own.

you become consumed in a frightful fit to protect yourself from being further hurt. you feel desperate and the situation becomes ugly and out of control, and with each continued jab you make matters even worse. you try to back pedal and justify the spiteful tone you used and all the hurtful things you said, but instead your anger only rages hotter as you become consumed by all of the flames of your overwhelming frustration.

a relationship ends, tears are shed, feelings are hurt, a door is slammed, a job is quit, a phone is furiously hung up, a fist flies, a wall is punched, all trust and respect is lost — whatever the end result may be, you’re soon left with nothing at all.

yes, we've all have had those moments.

when you find yourself swept away by spontaneous heated emotion, mindful self-awareness can save you — don’t let yourself combust and self-destruct.

when you notice yourself becoming embroiled in an argument or a fight you didn’t intend, but that you perpetrated and began nonetheless, an emergency tourniquet is immediately required, or the trauma will continue. the bleeding must be stopped before you bleed yourself out.

stop the proliferation of your argumentative and aggressive words. breathe and listen respectfully, without any defensive manoeuvres. be compassionate to your combatant for being an innocent casualty to the ugly symptoms of your pain that spilled over and onto them, but also be compassionate to yourself, by accepting your overblown reaction — because it happened and you can’t rewind time — and forgive yourself for not yet understanding the true nature of your suffering (these things take time).

pain can make you cruel, and suffering can make you blind, but compassion makes you kind.

admit you screwed up, it will deflate the tension in the air. after all, it’s up to you to stop the fight that you unkowingly began.

be compassionate with your vulnerability. every wound needs air to heal — so get yours out and into the open. expose it. talk about it. help the other person understand why you reacted in the way you did, and in so doing, you’ll start to better understand it yourself.

your self-awareness in the heat of the moment is absolutely crucial.

if you remain unaware of your overblown reactions — as they are happening — then you will soon be left with nothing but shame, regret and remorse. don’t let your pain overflow and spill onto others. be mindful of the nature of your reactions and in how you respond. put an end to your anger before it even begins.

be compassionate with your pain — let the other person know how you’re struggling with something that’s making you feel on edge. admit that you feel a little helpless with the emotions that are starting to bubble inside you — your honesty will show your humanity, and it shows how much you’re trying.

fear might make you full of anger, jealousy and hate, but loving-kindness to others — and yourself — will make you selfless, caring and full of joy.

the world loves someone who can admit they were wrong. it not only shows great emotional intelligence, but it also proves how much they truly care.