I felt hurt today after someone said something to me I didn’t like. I didn’t like what they said. I didn’t like the way they said it. And I didn’t like when they said it either! And I felt hurt. I withdrew for a bit as the extremely uncomfortable and sudden feeling of contraction and eruption in my solar plexus surged. It felt very painful. It felt like anger, despair, sorrow and injustice, with a dash of persecution thrown in for good measure.
As I sat there, still in the vicinity of this person who had just said the thing that I didn’t like, I noticed my mind building a ‘case for the prosecution’ in my inner ear, listing all the things I could say that would back up the idea that I was a victim here and the other person had been, in some way(s), responsible for this painful feeling now raging in me.
So the voice of prosecution set off down a few roads to argue it’s case, to back up this ‘Jamie has been unarguably wronged here’ version of events, in which I was an innocent victim of this other person’s wrongness.
Does this sound familiar?
Do you, like me, often have a whole courtroom scene going on in your head? At times when I feel I have to state my case, defend myself, or especially justifiably prosecute another for ‘wronging me’, an imaginary courtroom opens up in my mind where the whole world can hear the obvious truth of my innocence and the other person’s (often outrageous) wrongness.
Today, I watched my inner prosecutor attempt to blame and shame this person for what, how and when they had ‘been so insensitive’. But this time, in the light of my curious attention, and therefore without the fuel of my need to avoid this pain in me at all costs by blaming the other, the whole victim-centric ‘version of events’ that would usually be so delicious and compelling to me just dissolved, and in it’s place, a fascination with the sad, despairing, contracting, watery sensations that were still pulsing in my chest and guts and eyes, took over.
My attention left the argument in my head and focused instead on the sensations in me and the astonishment at how skillful my inner victim-addicted prosecutor is! How often in the past I’d be deep in arguing by now instead of feeling what was going on in my body.
Once I breathed gently into the places where the hurt was throbbing and moving it began to morph and shift and dissolve – as the Taoists say ‘Ice to Water, Water to Steam’.
I was so glad I had, for once, noticed this before I attacked this other person. And above all, I made a personal note to get wise to the usual, deliciously compelling, “i’m a victim’ version of events I try and sell even to myself when I feel hurt. Anything to escape the pain that erupts in me.
From now on I am reminding myself to stay uber-vigilant about the seemingly-so-just complaints and blaming strategies I habitually weave to back up my victimhood, and how I tend to avoid feeling deeply and with fascination the extreme sensory reactions I have in my body…
…whenever someone says something I don’t like.
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