Someone asked me the other day that why do our loved ones hurt us the most? This is not a question but a statement if you ask me, for only your loved ones can hurt you the most. Those who don’t know you may inflict pain but they can’t hurt you emotionally. In broken relationships, there comes a point when two people no longer care about the relationship. They are tired. Giving up on the other person, they become indifferent towards each other. In that indifference, they feel like strangers. It no longer hurts then because strangers can’t hurt you.
That said, a relationship suffers many blows, before it gets to that stage where such indifference creeps in, where the damage is irreparable. Every time you are hurt, a little bit of you is broken. You patch yourself, determined to win over or change the other person, but with each hit you take you lose a bit more of you. Just like sand sifts through a tightly clenched fist, the harder you try to hold yourself, the quicker you lose yourself. And one day you stand empty of any emotions towards the other person. That day you become a stranger to them, even to yourself to some extent.
You look at yourself in the mirror but the old you, the happy you, is nowhere to be found. You see the same body in the mirror but you don’t feel the same person inside. This is a sad stage for you have lost yourself and unless you spot the beacon of love, waves of emotions will continue to toss the ship of your life.
These are new feelings, new swells of sadness, reclusion and grief, these are unknown emotions. You feel like the lost child in a fair, lonely in a crowd, an utter stranger. How can you feel any intense emotion towards strangers? You can’t. And, forgiveness like hurt is an intense feeling. You can only feel it for your own.
Immersed in a religious text, Rabbi Kagan, commonly known as the Chofetz Chaim, was traveling on a train. Three Jews, who sat alongside, invited him to play cards with them since they needed a fourth hand. The rabbi refused saying he preferred his reading over playing cards. The three travelers were clueless about the fact that the stranger they were soliciting was the famous Chofetz Chaim himself. They tried their luck a couple of times more and eventually becoming frustrated, got mad. One of them punched him in the face while the other two cheered. The rabbi grabbed his hanky to dab his wound but drops of blood had already leaked and fell on his book.
A few hours later, the train pulled into the station. Scores of people had gathered there to welcome the sage. He got off the train with a gashed face and the devotees demanded to know who hurt him. The rabbi whiffed aside the question and continued walking. The three culprits were plagued by guilt at the realization that they had not just beaten up some poor old fellow but the Chofetz Chaim.
They met him the next day at his home to seek his forgiveness. With remorse and shame, they begged him to absolve them. The rabbi, however, said no and refused them the gift of forgiveness. The rabbi’s son, who was a witness to all this, was taken aback. It was a saint’s job to forgive after all. The offenders pleaded again and yet again the rabbi said no. They left with a heavy heart.
“Father,” his son said, “pardon me for saying this but I feel your behavior was a bit cruel. You are a spiritual icon, the whole community looks up to you. Why didn’t you forgive them?”
“You are right, son,” the rabbi said. “Denying them forgiveness was unbecoming of me, but the truth is it was not in my power to forgive them.
“Of course, I Rabbi Kagan, the Chofetz Chaim, forgive them,” he continued, “but my forgiveness does not matter.
The man they had beaten was the one they presumed to be a simple, unassuming poor person with no crowd of well-wishers waiting to greet him. He was the victim and only he can grant them forgiveness. Let them go find that person. I am incapable of releasing them from their guilt.”
A few months back I wrote about forgiveness being the most difficult emotion. It is particularly so because you can’t forgive as a stranger, you can’t grant them pardon as a new person. To forgive, you have to scrape the wound, you have to become the old person again. Embers of slumbering emotions light up again as the wind of memories blow away the ash of false assurance. Feelings you thought were long gone are reignited but the new you is afraid of handling them again. You don’t want to be hurt again.
Forgiveness, however, requires that you be hurt once more, one last time, once and for all. It is the final dressing to treat your wound. It demands that you put your new found strength and indifference aside and expose yourself anew to the old vulnerability, insecurity and uncertainty. You have to step into your abandoned and worn-out shoes and be familiar once more. You have to be reacquainted with the one who hurt you, you’ve to feel him or her one more time for strangers can’t hurt and strangers can’t forgive.
Mulla Nasurdin cheated on his wife once and she found out. She was hurt, and mad at him. Just short of tearing his guts out and framing them to replace their wedding picture in the living room. Mulla apologized, she forgave and they made up.
Over the next two decades however, every now and then, she would remind Mulla of what he had done.
Unable to take it anymore, he said one day, “Why do you keep bringing that up? I thought your policy was ‘forgive and forget’.”
“It is,” she replied. “I just don’t want you to forget that I’ve forgiven and forgotten.”
In reality, you can’t forget your own. You can only forget strangers. To forgive though, you have to own them one more time. And when you do that, indifference gives way to love and other emotions. This sets you up to be hurt yet again. It’s almost cyclical. You love, you get hurt, you make up or adjust, you love them again and you get hurt again. It’s nearly inevitable. That’s why people can spend their whole lives in abusive relationships even when they have the choice to move on.
The only way to avoid being hurt in a relationship is total acceptance of the other person, and that, I may add, is extremely rare. If you become indifferent, the relationship won’t be close anymore, and if you stay close, getting hurt is almost certain. A knotty thing, this life. Naughty too, perhaps. The more caring you are, the more sensitive you will be. And the more sensitive you are, the more hurt you will be.
You get hurt because you are human and they hurt you because they are human. If their good outstrips their bad, rejoice and turn inward so you be less vulnerable. If their bad surpasses their good, forgive and move on.
Your own will hurt you, for love is not about never getting hurt. Instead, it is about not losing sight of the good in the other person even when they hurt you. Sometimes, it’ll drizzle lightly and sometimes it will rain heavily. At times, it will snow and other times it may hail. Ultimately, it’s all water. Learn to let it pass.
If you store it all, life will become a stagnant pool—it’ll get dirtier with time. If you let go, it continues to flow like a beautiful, blue, clean and placid river. Let it.
Art of Meditation
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We have all been through our share of hurting and being hurt. When someone hurts you, what is your first reaction? The questions below delve into the different aspects of hurt including what to do when someone hurts you. Letting go is just one of many probabilities that can be life-changing.
When someone hurts you immensely, why does it feel life-changing, like the world has come crashing down?
Like clothes cover our body, the sheaths of ego, anger and conditioning cloak the beauty and bliss we carry within. Veils of ignorance, covetousness, vanity, hate, fear, shame, jealousy and so on. Your loss gives you the chance to start anew; grab the opportunity with both hands.
Before it all comes to a screeching halt, the train of life will stop at many stations, there will be delays, even detours, the weather will not always be on your side, the co-passengers may be unruly, even the very rails of the track never unite beyond a few moments at the junctions, and no matter how nice a station, the train can’t stop there forever. It must move on. When someone hurts you, remember that the train will keep moving. And you must move right along with it. Read more here.
Similar to when someone hurts you, is it possible to hurt our own life with the decisions we make?
Here, in one sentence:
Life belongs to those who love it.
You protect what you love, you naturally try to save what you love. If you hurt life, it stops belonging to you, it ceases to be your life.
Your life has a life of its own. If you love it, value it, protect it, it would want to be with you. It will become yours. But, if you are going to hurt it, it will fly away from you, far, far away. Want to do something life-changing? Be kind, be gentle and the swan of life will come alive in your hands.
As you are hurt when the other person doesn’t appreciate your efforts or when someone hurts you, life is hurt too when you keep on resisting rather than appreciating what it’s doing for you. Life is frightened and hurt, when you shoot arrows of jealousy, complaints and selfishness. Read more here.
Is it important to speak the truth even when someone hurts you for it, through their words or actions?
Compassion or love is not always speaking flowery words especially when you don’t mean them or when you are hurt. At the same time, it is not about hurting the other person to get your point across. When someone hurts you, you don’t have to hurt them back. Besides, and more importantly, I don’t think we have to see everything under the lens of hurting the other person or hurting ourselves.
You can have a difficult conversation with a difficult person in a gentle manner. Sometimes, confrontation is necessary, but you can confront someone lovingly and compassionately. You can make your point in a soft tone without accusing the other person. If you are truthful, your words will make a difference. Truth always does. Only truth does, in fact. And that’s what makes it life-changing. Read more here.
How can you heal when someone hurts you terribly?
Feeling hurt is an emotion, it’s a feeling. When someone hurts you, if you are willing to let go of the analysis of why it happened to you, or why did they do it to you, or how could they do it to you, you can get over the hurt. Ultimately, it boils down to attention. If you pay attention to your present, thoughts from the past can’t disturb you.
I’ve said this earlier and I say it again: when thoughts of the past come uninvited, simply and gently shift your attention elsewhere, at something joyous, at your dream, on your present. This is the fundamental yogic method of getting over the hurt when someone hurts you. And when you are finally able to let go of these thoughts at will, it is life-changing. Read more here.
Why do people say you must be compassionate when someone hurts you?
Personal attributes of warmth and compassion are definitive signs of how evolved an individual is, they are infinitely more important, vastly more life-changing than any erudition, that, mere intellectual grasp of holy texts is no indicator of one’s liberation.
When someone hurts you and you are angered or irritated, it shows there is a certain coldness in you. Make a list of painful events, people, circumstances in your life, and let go, burn the list or discard it. Keeping them inside can make you cold; consequently, others, including yourself, may not feel your warmth any longer. Remember, warmth is comforting, and it hurts more when it is cold. Read more here.