The only way to heal is to share, be open and not worry about being vulnerable!

You are not alone. Everyone has problems. So, stop obsessing over your problems and start living.
Our daughter has enrolled for a Creative Dance Movement Therapy Program. She intends to make a career out of practicing dance movement therapy. We asked her how her Program was coming along. Over some soup and pasta, she explained to us how the Program’s instructor insisted that they employ the therapy techniques on themselves first. She said: “It was a therapeutic, healing experience. As each of my class fellows shared their Life stories, I realized that we are not the only ones facing problems. Everyone is. And the only way to heal yourself is to be open, to share what you feel and to not worry about being vulnerable.”
I am delighted our daughter at 20-something has understood the futility of keeping things bottled up. I learnt this only when I was 35. Sadly, many people still don’t get it.
All our suffering comes from wanting our lives to be different from what it is now. And because it is not always possible to change what is, we spend our lives pretending that everything’s normal. For instance, people carry on with broken marriages because they worry about social approval, people live beyond their means because they want to maintain a public profile, people don’t speak their mind because they want to be nice to their oppressors and people are refusing to forgive themselves for what they have said and done only because they are still clinging on to anger and guilt. Here’s the nub: As long as we live, we will face problems. Some of the problems will cripple us physically, some will drain us emotionally. In either context, we must be willing to let go of past experiences, hurts, insults and opinions, and, in many cases, even people – we must simply move on. Anything and anyone that makes us unhappy must be avoided – like plague, even if it is our own thoughts, or even if it is someone with whom we have a biological connect! The past serves only one purpose: it teaches us lessons from what we have been through. Beyond the lesson, we have must have no attachment to a past event, person or experience.

If you are clinging on to someone or something and are suffering, then open up and share. When you share, you may be vulnerable. But you will also heal. You fear being vulnerable only because you think people will take advantage of you. If they do, that’s a learning too – that you can’t count on such people. Believe me, I have been wearing my Life on my sleeve for over 15 years now. And so far, none has exploited my vulnerability. Because, contrary to what we all think, this is a wonderful world, with beautiful, compassionate people! 

There’s no point in carrying issues, injuries, insults in Life

No insult or injury is worth carrying in Life, let alone to the grave.     

While all of humanity understands this simple truth and knows how vain it is to cling on to such sentiments, everyone struggles with letting go of insults, barbs and forgettable memories. The struggle is because of the ego within us speaking up, louder than our hearts: the “How dare he?” scream drowns the “It’s OK!” whisper.

Joe Frazier (1944 ~ 2011), the boxing heavyweight, was one who took his sporting rivalry with the great Muhammad Ali too personally, and carried it literally to his grave. For years, Frazier had voiced his bitterness over the way Ali had insulted him, over how Ali had called him “ugly,” “a gorilla,” and an “Uncle Tom.” His anger was never in fuller view than when Ali, stricken with Parkinson’s disease, lit the Olympic flame at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, and Frazier said he would have liked to have “pushed him in.” To be sure, Ali had said this of Frazier: “Joe Frazier is so ugly that when he cries, the tears turn around and go down the back of his head.” ESPN commentator and writer Mike Sielski opines, “The two are forever linked, thanks to their three timeless bouts — Frazier won only the first, and the third was a near-death experience for both of them — the contrasting styles with which they fought, and the vitriol they hurled at each other for so long.” Yet their rivalry was both meaningless and childish for all their greatness __ because in reality  they complimented each other. “Technically the loser of two of the three fights, [Frazier] seems not to understand that they ennobled him as much as they did Ali,” wrote Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Halberstam, “that the only way we know of Ali’s greatness is because of Frazier’s equivalent greatness, that in the end there was no real difference between the two of them as fighters, and when sports fans and historians think back, they will think of the fights as classics, with no identifiable winner or loser. These are men who, like it or not, have become prisoners of each other and those three nights.” They did come close more than a few times to make up and get over their sentiments. Frazier and his nemesis have alternated between public apologies and public insults. One exchange came in 2001, says ESPN, after Ali told The New York Times he was sorry for what he said about Frazier before their first fight. At first, Frazier accepted the apology, but then … “He didn’t apologize to me — he apologized to the paper,” Frazier said in an issue of TV Guide. “I’m still waiting [for him] to say it to me.” Ali’s response: “If you see Frazier, you tell him he’s still a gorilla.” Joe Frazier died in November 2011, beaten, a financially and emotionally broken man, by liver cancer. Ali graciously attended his funeral, realizing, perhaps, when he said, “The world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration,” that he had said too little, too late.

There’s a lot of Frazier and Ali in each of us. We are prisoners of our experiences and emotions. We cling on to positions we have taken, opinions we have formed and events we have been through. We hurt within but are too proud to accept that we are hurting. Review your Life. What are you hurting from, hurting with? Let go. Go say sorry to someone that you had hurt in the past, today. Write a note to someone saying you forgave them. If you don’t want to do either, just say it to yourself. And the next time you meet that person, look her or him in the eye, smile and give that person a hug. Life’s not a boxing ring. Remember: all the greatness of our professional successes will be pale and insignificant in the face of advancing age, failing health and the certain death that awaits us all. 

What others think of you does not really make your Life tick!

Learn to accept that people have a right to their opinions. Don’t resist either the people around you or their opinions. Simply move on.                                                                                                     
A lot of our quality time is lost in giving credence to other people’s opinions. From experience I can tell you that this is an absolute waste of time. What others think of you does not really make your Life tick. Period. Only when you give an opinion attention does it grow to be a problem – as in something that you have to deal with. If you just view an opinion as a mere statement, a string of words, and choose only what you want to internalize and discard the rest, there will be no problem.
Consider this example. I give you a pen as a gift. If you accept it, who does the pen belong to? It belongs to you. If you choose not to accept it and say that you don’t take gifts as a matter of principle, who does the pen now belong to? It belongs to the giver, me. Now instead of a pen, if it was an insult or an opinion, you have the same option. You can leave it, the “gift”, with the giver and not take it. You grieve only when you accept the opinion or insult and agonize over it in your mind – she said that, but why?; how dare he do that to me?; I need to teach them a lesson; I need to show them who I really am and such. The more you grieve the more you suffer. And that’s why most relationships end up withering away – simply because you don’t have the ability to let people have their opinions!
Opinions are of two kinds – serious, honest feedback and frivolous, even destructive, criticism. You have a choice to internalize and learn from the first kind. If you do, don’t let your mind complain about it by chewing on it endlessly. Someone said something you can learn from. Learn and move on. The second kind of opinion, the destructive criticism, just ignore and move on. Now, moving on is not always easy. The legendary Bollywood film-maker Yash Chopra would take weeks to recover whenever his films flopped. Obviously the reason why a film flops is because of audience opinion. Chopra would lock himself up in his room and step out only at meal times. For weeks he would do this until he “healed” from the criticism and until he “learned” from the feedback. So, like Chopra, choose your own method for dealing with opinions. But whatever it is, don’t grieve and agonize, and resultantly suffer, over what others have to say.
We create our own problems by wanting people to be different from who they really are. It is because they are a particular way that they have opinions such as the ones they make. Accept people for who they and know that they are entitled to their opinion, just as you are entitled to yours. When you remind yourself of this empowering perspective, every time you hear an opinion contrary to your own, you will find the energy and the ability to drop the opinion, to not judge the person who delivered it and to move on!

Don’t suffer! Either speak up and/or forgive and move on…

We sometimes don’t realize we have this phenomenal ability to forgive and move on. So we end up suffering people and situations – often endlessly!  
Two days ago, I met a young lady who was very disturbed emotionally. Her’s is an arranged marriage. Her husband of five years, she says, had let her down over an issue raised by his mother – her mother-in-law. He had apparently abused her (his wife) and held her accountable for “insulting” his mother. This incident is over two years old and even as this young lady has been struggling with this emotional hurt, her husband has been diagnosed with cancer. Interestingly, she’s been by his side, dutifully nursing him and helping him cope with all the pain and depression. She told me while she was doing whatever she could to help her husband, she was still unable to get over her hurt over the past and move on. “I simply am unable to forgive him for what he did to me. Agreed, my mother-in-law made a mountain out a molehill, but I can’t understand why my husband vented his fury at me. I felt trampled upon and felt like dirt. Now, when I sit by his side all night helping him deal with his pain and nightmares, I am also suffering within. I feel so much anger for him. Instead of letting it all out, I am having to control it and look after him. This makes me feel worse,” the lady told me, breaking down a few times as she shared her predicament.
I told her that she was making matters worse for her by carrying so much hurt and anger within her. She either has to express her anger – which is to tell her husband how she feels about being treated the way she was or she has to forgive him and move on. It will be ideal if she can do both. Her suffering, I told her, was coming from repressing her feelings. Since her husband is in a fragile state himself, the only way forward for her – and him – at the moment, is for her to be by his side. And since this is not the time to rake up a past hurt and discuss it, she must forgive him and pour her heart into caring for him. (Well, she has the option to leave him at this time. But she, rightly so, does not want to exercise this option.)

Her story may seem unique. But it is not. Many of us suffer from not being able to speak our minds when we must. And many of us also suffer from our inability to forgive and move on. It may not always be possible for us to forget whatever has happened in Life, but we can surely forgive others for what they have done to us. Here’s the nub: when someone does something to you that you do not appreciate, simply tell them so on their face. If you can’t speak up – send that person a text, an email or a WhatsApp message or a facebook messenger note. Then forgive that person and move on. If you have failed to speak your mind and communicate your feelings because you see no point in even discussing the issue with this person, at least forgive this person for his or her transgression and move on. The more you cling on to a hurt, an insult, an abuse, a betrayal, the more you will suffer. Interestingly, unless you “allow” someone to hurt you emotionally, you will never suffer. If you treat people with the view that everyone is entitled to their opinions and behaviors, you will never be emotionally disturbed no matter what people do to you. However, since not all of us can claim to be so evolved and mature, the best way is to speak up or move on or, in a best case scenario, do both. Never suffer anyone or anything grieving that you “wish” you were treated better. It is this wishing, your wishing, that is causing your suffering. And never the person or the event that has upset you.

When there’s no one to be touched!

No hurt or insult will touch you if you don’t allow it to.
Whenever you feel hurt at what someone tells you, remember it is your ego which is acting up. You question, often subconsciously, why someone has behaved in a manner that you don’t endorse. That you don’t subscribe to. Your ego tells you to fight that behavior. And then the drama begins. You tell the person something harsh. That person retaliates. Then you must say something in return. And on, and on, this game of ping-pong goes on. Or you are unable to retort and so you suffer within. You carry the injury, the wound from the hurt, all the while. Your ego keeps reminding you of how unfairly you have been treated. It sets you off on a journey of anger, self-pity and grief. And you let the wound fester there – causing you more pain, making you suffer more – and more!
But think of what can happen if you choose to ignore the insult. If you refuse to let it affect you. What if someone calls you an idiot and you just ignore that expression totally. Then there will be no hurt. And therefore no suffering. To reach this state all you need to remember that each one is entitled to their opinion. If someone expresses his or her opinion, take it on board if it is worth it. If it will cause agony – drop it. Or rather don’t even catch it. Let the comment, barb, jibe, insult – whatever, let it pass.
Periodically check out how well you are faring on this evolutionary journey. Choose a 24-hour period and promise yourself that you will not react or retort to whatever may be said about you – no matter what the context is or what the provocation is. Notice that you will feel infinitely better without taking on board all the comments – about you – that come your way. This definitely works wonders when it comes to dealing with hurts and insults. But it also is a great way to stay grounded – especially when a lot of praise is heaped on. If you let both, insult and praise, to pass, you will never be allowing your ego to be in the driver’s seat! When the ego is not driving you, you cannot be touched. Because then, as per Tao, there’s no one to be touched!

Be unmoved. Be peaceful.

Don’t let neither praise nor insults affect you. Be unmoved. And you will be peaceful – always.
Who doesn’t love to be praised? Or be recognized? Everyone loves it and enjoys being praised thoroughly. And, by the same logic, everyone loathes being insulted or slighted. We often get angry when someone is nasty and react with a typical “how dare you” in such situations. Neither the joy when being praised nor the anger when insulted is justified. Both will bring grief. If you really want to be peaceful choose to be unaffected, unmoved.
A Zen story comes to mind.
There once lived a great warrior. A Master. Though quite old, he still was able to defeat any challenger. His reputation travelled far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study under him.
One day a villainous, scheming, young warrior arrived in the village. He was determined to be the first man to defeat the great Master. Along with his strength, he had an uncanny ability to spot and exploit the weakness in any opponent. He would wait for his opponent to make the first move, thus revealing a weakness, and then would strike with merciless force and lightning speed. No one had ever lasted in a match with him beyond the first bout.
Much against the advice of his students, the old Master gladly accepted the young warrior’s challenge. As the two squared off for battle, the young warrior began to hurl insults at the old Master. He threw dirt and spit on his face. For hours he verbally assaulted him with every curse and insult known to mankind. But the old warrior merely stood there motionless and calm. Finally, the young warrior exhausted himself. Knowing he was defeated, he felt shamed.
Somewhat disappointed that he did not fight the insolent youth, the students gathered around the old Master and questioned him: “How could you endure such an indignity? Yet, how did you manage to drive him away?”
“If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it,” the Master replied, “to whom does the gift belong?”
Reacting to insults is a waste of energy.Because if you don’t accept the “gift” it is really not yours – so why bother? And getting carried away by praise is of no use either. Because if you really know your Self, you will realize that you have created nothing and so don’t deserve any accolade or recognition! The best stance to take is to be unmoved in either situation. That way you will be forever peaceful!