Do you believe you’ve done absolutely no damage to those around you? Do you believe you’ve caused no insecurities, mental anguish or heartache in others? No one in this life can answer yes to these simple questions. It’s entirely impossible. If you answered yes to these questions you are either highly evolved (which only accounts for your current position, not the years of trial and error) or lacking in self-awareness (which means you aren’t considering how your words or actions have affected others).
Truth of the matter is we impact EVERYONE we come across in this lifetime in both positive and negative ways. In fact, simultaneously, you can be saving grace for one person and a tormentor for another. Keep in mind that I am not speaking in terms of violent, savage or sadistic crimes. I am speaking in terms of social transgressions, even ones that at most, are fleeting and often deemed benign. In fact, there are moments in your life where your words or actions have positive intentions that can cause a negative impact in another.
This is possible because you operate from one, unique perspective whereas those around you hold another perspective entirely. For example, say your friend is crying. You know if you were in that position you’d want a hug, an embrace from another signaling, “I care about you and don’t want to see you suffering.” However, when you hug that person, they may feel shame. They may feel like your reaction was expected for that scenario and disingenuous. And that, in fact, your embrace was condescending and implied pity. Now, I know you may say, “Amber isn’t that a bit of an overreaction?” Not quite. Remember, we all operate on our own perspectives; they cannot match up to another’s 100% of the time. What you may identify as consoling, another may internalize as pity. The sooner you learn of these differing perspectives, the better you’ll be in practicing consideration, confrontation of harm, and most importantly, forgiveness.
Now that you know there are many angles when viewing an issue, think about a time you know you’ve harmed or may have harmed someone else. Did you bully a peer? Were you unfaithful to a lover? Have you obliterated another’s trust in you? Do you regret not mending a broken relationship? Take a deep breath and consider everyone who has been in your life or is currently in your life. Where is the access point? Where is the moment that you decided, “I said_____, I did______; therefore, I am a terrible person?” Because, the truth is, we all do it. We all internalize the pain we inflict on others and interpret it as STUPIDITY. We interpret it as INCOMPETENCE. We interpret it as GUILT. We interpret it as SHAME. But, most of all, we interpret it as SELF-HATRED.
We hate ourselves for how we’ve treated others. And, often, how we treat others is a reflection of how we feel we should be treated. Long before that, we formulated how we should be treated based on how others have treated us. In many cases, we are projecting our own self-loathing onto others. The phrase “misery loves company,” is highly regarded for a reason. We feel pain, so we inflict pain elsewhere, anywhere; as long as we can transfer these negative feelings to another, we can take our minds off our own internal damage.
Now, do you see how the pain we brace and the pain we inflict can be one in the same? You hurt someone because others have hurt you. And you continue this cycle of projecting harm, because you are constantly harming yourself.
This is a vicious, vicious cycle. And the only way to end it is to forgive yourself. You are human, inherently imperfect. You reacted in a common fashion. You’ve face hardship from others, absorbed and projected. At the time, it was all you knew. But, once you’ve spotted it, you MUST stop.
It’s important to remember that you are NOT a terrible person; you are a work in progress! You’ve made mistakes. But, you cannot keep blaming yourself for past discretions. I warn you, if you do, you are sure to repeat them. If you keep beating yourself up, you will feed the monster that is self-hatred. If you fuel self-hatred, all you will know is how to transfer it. And there it is, you are the source. You have all the power you need to change this.