I know we all have people in our lives that are difficult to be around. We can usually be found saying things like they make us sad, crazy, angry, or whatever feeling you want to throw out there. Yet, we all know that only we are responsible for our own feelings. We can’t allow every whim of another persons thoughts, actions, or feelings to dictate how we feel or act. We seem to exist between these two ideas. Those of us on the path know about what Thich Nhat Hanh is saying in the following quote.
We understand that those who cause suffering are suffering. We can usually arrive to a place of compassion pretty quickly if we take a few moments to see where this person is coming from. This doesn’t mean allowing the person who has suffering spilling over free reign to do, act, or say whatever they please. We can deal with the thoughts, feelings, and actions and set appropriate boundaries.
First, we must start with ourselves. We need to look at the suffering we are feeling. When we feel as though someone is making us suffer, we can first identify what feelings we are feeling. What is there, at the core. I’m not talking about what “they” did, but rather, what do “we” feel? Take “them” our of the equation and focus on what “we” feel. After we come home to what we are feeling, we can offer those hurt feelings compassion. We must not forget to do this. We cannot be compassionate to the world without first being compassionate towards ourselves. A time will come whenwe then can feel comfortable with digging a little deeper and questioning our feelings. We can ask ourselves if these feelings are true, where are they coming from, what would we say to a friend who was experiencing this? All of these questions can bring us to the hurt place in us, the place that needs attention. Once we have investigated our own feelings, thoughts, and actions. We can move towards helping the other.
When we encounter that other person and we recognize what’s happening in us as they spill their suffering, the first thing we can do is to stop, breathe, and offer compassion to the hurting place inside of them. It can stop there. Sometimes, it has to. If someone close to us says something hurtful or acts out their suffering, sometimes all we can do is to offer them some compassion with our hearts, and then walk away or change the subject. However, if there is some space, sometimes we can help them by asking questions about where they are coming from, or gently sharing the messages that they are sending us with their actions. I believe that in the quiet moments of pausing and listening, we can hear God, and when we are aligned with the Spirit inside of us, we can speak truth (or silence) that serves best. Let us all trust that the right words will come that can create a space for healing. Like Jesus says in Matthew 10: 19-20:
19) When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; 20) for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Dealing with suffering is part of life. We all suffer. We call create suffering. Our path is to show love. In times of suffering I like to quote something I heard on a Tara Brach podcast, “May this suffering serve enlightenment.”