Interesting question, and one I have had on my list of topics to write about for a while now, but the time is right to write about it.
I noticed the question on social media, and at the time thought by myself “Sweetheart, you don’t understand. They don’t destroy, they set free. What are you doing with your freedom?”
It is so easy to blame the “destroyer” when you are in the situation. Of course, the “destroyer” needs to take responsibility for what they have said and done – shouldn’t we all? Then why does it look and feel like someone behaves in a vicious, immature and destructive manner and they don’t show any regret? Why, even if you make them aware of how you feel, don’t they show any repentance, and often tell you to “get a life” or “not take things so seriously”?
It is easy, while you are in the situation, to focus entirely on your emotions. Often the predominant emotions are self-pity, anger, hurt and even thoughts of being equally destructive.
The perspective normally comes once you have distanced yourself from the situation – and therein lies the dilemma. For you to distance yourself form the situation, there are two crucial ingredients. The first is enough knowledge and self-insight to understand that you need to detach and become an observer in your own life.
You need to understand that your life is part of a journey which did not start with your birth. The day you were born was a significant day, but your journey started long before you were even conceived. We are part of eternal life and your life here is simply one chapter – albeit a chapter that can stretch over close to a century if you are lucky.
Your life here does not happen by accident. Most of the details are thoroughly planned long before you are born. Part of the planning involved conversations and agreements with people who will play an important part in your life. Some people agree to be our parents and siblings. Others agree to be our life partners and our children. Then there are less significant role players who agree to be friends, work colleagues, important or distant relatives and so on. We also enter into contracts with each one of these people regarding the role they will play in our lives. These roles differ, and each role has its own purpose. For example, you may have cousins that you are close to, and cousins that you would not even recognise in the street. You have life-long friends, and friends who play a role and then fade out, and they may return after some years.
None of these things happen by accident. They are all part of a Divine design, and we have the privilege of being the actors in this design.
And yes, this includes contracts with people who will intentionally behave in a less than pleasant manner. Are they deliberately hurtful? Yes, in the sense that they live out their contracts of providing us with specific experiences. No, in the sense that we choose how to respond emotionally to these experiences.
A large part of our journey on earth is to experience and tame our emotions. We have experiences that could evoke certain emotions in us. We initially react with these strong emotions, and they take over. We don’t even try too make sense of the emotions, but rather wallow in them for as long as we can manage to keep them going.
Once we learn the art of detachment, we still experience the emotions, but we don’t hold on to the emotions for that long. Instead, we observe the emotions, and become curious. Why did this person press this button? Why did I respond in this manner? I noticed that I did not have that knee-jerk reaction like I had in the past. I responded in a slower manner, but I still had a strong emotion. Why did I have this emotion? Or rather, how has the emotion changed me?
That is the crux of the matter. When we have emotional reactions or responses, we change.
This is where the second critical ingredient, namely time, comes in. We can take all the time in the world to experience those emotions, and not be aware of anything else, anyone else, or any way out of the situation. The alternative is that we can cut this dreadful time short by asking different questions.
You may enjoy contemplating your navel with questions like “Why me? Why does nobody care about me? What have I done to be treated in this dreadful manner? How does he/she sleep at night knowing that he/she has destroyed me emotionally?” and so on. If those are your questions, the torture can go on for years and you will not get anywhere.
So, let’s change the questions. Rather ask “Why me? What is it that I needed to learn from this experience? How is this experience making me a richer, stronger, wiser person? What would be the nature of my contract with this person?”
When you ask this new set of questions, detachment comes much sooner. You become aware of the before and after, and you notice the difference in yourself. Did you need to become more independent? Are you now less insecure because you have discovered inner strength that you were not aware of? Are you now more careful about who you trust? Do you listen to your intuition, which you in the past wrote off because it was too faint, subtle or not quite what your ego had in mind?
With detachment comes forgiveness. When you understand why the “destroyer” acted they way they did, you also intuitively understand the nature of your contract with this person. You find a reason to be grateful for the behaviour you otherwise would have resented for years.
Does this mean you give in too easily? No. It means you are more aware, and you learn faster.
Does it mean you need to continue the contract with the person who evoked such strong emotions in you? That depends. If the person is for example a co-parent, you need to continue the relationship for the sake of the children involved, but it does not necessarily mean you need to remain married. You will intuitively know where your contract takes you next.
If the person is for example a friend who stabbed you in the back, then you may get the clarity about the reason for the experience and move away from the friendship – because you will intuitively know that the friendship has run its course.
What happens once you understand how the experience has made you a stronger, wiser, better person, does not really matter. What matters is that you need to ask the right questions, so that you can reach the conclusions much sooner.
And yes, the “destroyer” will probably continue to sleep like a baby at night – because they have done a good job, whether you agree or not.
Ask the right questions, and you will also sleep well.