When I went to a ‘find your purpose’ seminar a month ago, one of the things that I got from it was that I need to practice acceptance in order to move forward with my purpose. Acceptance has been a problem in my life. I have trouble accepting other people, situations, or even myself. I have trouble accepting the world for what it is, and want it to be different. I have trouble accepting myself for what I am, and want to be different.
While wanting things to be different can be a worthy desire, it prevents acceptance of how things are right now. We want change because ‘how things are’ makes us unhappy. We don’t want to be unhappy, so we want things – and people – to change around us.
What we’re really doing is avoiding responsibility for our own perceptions and beliefs.
We need to look at what we’re unhappy with. Is it another person? Why do they make us unhappy? Is it because they’re imposing upon our beliefs of what is ‘right’? So if we had different beliefs, would they continue to impose themselves on the different beliefs? Unlikely.
Here’s an example. I think that a great majority of the US police force is without any ethical or moral considerations towards the people they’re supposed to be protecting. This results from my belief in individual freedom and independence. This belief is challenged by seeing the police trample all over people’s freedom and independence.
Now, I’ve recently realised that my belief in freedom and independence comes from having my own freedom and independence trampled on by my parents when I was a child. Seeing it occur around the world only reminds me of my own childhood, and becomes an emotional trigger point for me.
So how can I change my beliefs about freedom and independence so that the actions of the US police does not impact any emotional trigger?
Well, upon realising the origins of my belief, I can understand that my anger at oppression is simply an anger about my own oppressed childhood. This anger is at my parents for their actions against me. But if I can forgive them for those actions, because they didn’t know the effect it would have on me, then I can move a long way towards letting go of that anger.
By not having the anger in me, I won’t be emotionally triggered by similar events that I witness around the world.
You see, when we’re angry at something outside ourselves, it’s only telling us that we’re angry about something that’s already inside of us. When we can let go of that internal anger about something in our past, we can let go of anger at what’s outside of us.
This is part of the work I’m doing with myself at the moment, to work towards acceptance.
I discovered last night that I resent apologising to people if I’ve upset them. There’s a very complicated reason for this. It again goes back to my childhood.
Most of our issues stem from what happened to us as a child, and how we were affected by our parents.
From as far back as I can remember, my mum blamed me for her unhappy life. If I wasn’t born, she would have never had to have married my father, but their one-night stand resulted in her getting pregnant with me, and dad ‘did the right thing’, which meant they got married. It wasn’t the life my mum imagined for herself though, so she blamed me.
This was because she was unable to accept responsibility for her own choices, but as a small child growing up with her constant barrage that her miserable life was my fault, it caused an emotional reaction in me.
At first, as a small child, I felt guilty. I felt like I should apologise for being born. I felt it was my fault that she was unhappy. She was my mother, and mothers don’t lie to their children, right? To the mind of a small child, what your parents say must be TRUTH. It was TRUE that I was responsible for her miserable life.
As I grew into a teenager, I became resentful of her constant blaming of me for her misery. I knew I wasn’t responsible, but she tried to make me responsible, and I resented her for it. It made me angry, but then I was punished for the expression of my anger or emotions, which resulted in passive aggressive tendencies into my adult years – but that’s another story, having already been told.
As an adult, I came to understand that I wasn’t responsible for her choices. I understood that she was unable to accept responsibility for her own choices, and she had to instead blame others. It made her feel ‘better’, at other people’s expense. Her children were a safe target for her, because they couldn’t point out to her that she was fooling herself.
Understanding it, however, was only at an intellectual level, and not an emotional level.
In my late 20’s I heard someone quote a saying, which rang true for me.
“I’m not here to cater to other people’s insecurities.”
It meant to me that whatever issues people around me had that resulted from their insecurities, I was not responsible for catering to them. It felt good to have this attitude, because it freed me from being responsible for their issues, and for my mum’s issues.
Some people in my life have needed apologies from me when they’ve been upset at something I’ve said or done. This caused resentment in me, but I never really knew why – until last night.
Here’s my thoughts on what apologising means to me.
If something I say or do has upset someone, it’s because it has reminded them of something from their own past which they don’t like. Their past experience hurt them, and when I inadvertantly remind them of that past experience, they feel the hurt again – of that past experience. But because it’s associated with what I said or did, they make me responsible for it. “You hurt me,” they say, or “You made me feel this way.” They want me to apologise for hurting them, or causing the feelings in them.
But apologising for something is an acceptance of responsibility. How am I responsible for the feelings a person has for an event that I was never part of? If I was to apologise for hurting them now, then I am taking responsibility for the original event in their life that caused that hurt in the first place. The hurt was already there, I just triggered its’ conscious release all over again. Am I responsible for the hurt? No.
Having them require an apology so that I accept responsibility for their feelings, makes me resentful of them. It makes me feel like they cannot accept responsibility for their own feelings. It makes me feel like my mum is active in them, and it makes me angry.
Over the years I’ve attracted people into my life that needed me to apologise to them, for me to take responsibility for their feelings. Realising this has allowed me to understand that I’ve still felt apologetic to my mum for having been born. I’ve attracted people that let me continue apologising. On occasions, I’ve even apologised for things I didn’t need to apologise for.
Having it drummed into me as a child by my mum that I’m responsible for her feelings has made me subconsciously believe I’m responsible for everyone’s feelings if they interact with me and get pissed off or upset.
I’ve been willing to give apologies if I think I upset someone, but if they WANT an apology, it’s made me resentful of them for wanting me to be responsible for their feelings.
It’s a crazy, mixed up mind I’ve had.
So what do I do now?
I feel that I can only apologise to someone if I’ve done something I recognise is hurtful. But if I’ve done something that only reminds a person of their past hurt, I can only be sympathetic to their pain, but I cannot accept responsibility for what happened in their past, that didn’t involve me.
This is something for me to work on.
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