It’s hard when you go through life having to hide your emotions, stuff them into your heart so nobody would see them, raise your voice to drown out the voice inside your head. Maybe it’s because you were raised that way, raised to show the world that everything is okay, because any crack in the facade would make others think you’re weak. Or maybe it’s because you are too scared to acknowledge what you feel because you can’t deal with the repercussions. Or maybe it’s because you realize that nobody can really help you with what you’re going through so why give others ammunition to use against you now (by making fun) or in the future (by blackmailing you)?
And so you keep on stuffing your heart until it’s full. And hope that one day everything you’re feeling will disappear and you’ll get the chance to start afresh. But do you? Can you? Really. Nothing really goes away. And you are faced with the repercussions anyway; of suppressing everything.
It’s hard when you go through life choosing to barricade your heart and hide your emotions. Because in the end of the day, it’s a choice you’re making. Sometimes other people factor into that choice because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. And you know it’s really safer that way. For everyone involved.
Except you maybe.
But does that matter?
So I was trying to work on converting a results image from a linux-based form to jpg and the result was something like this. I am not sure what the actual image is supposed to look like but I know that this is not it. To tell you the truth it made me think of shooting stars for some reason, and suddenly I found myself on this blog.
Today I find myself reflecting on matters of the heart. The other day I was watching a video of an open-heart surgery and I was mesmerized. Of course, my reaction would have been different if there wasn’t a screen between me and the patient’s open chest since blood makes me queasy. But I thought of how little control we really have over our own hearts, let alone our own lives. When the heart beats normally, we tend to take it for granted. We eat all the wrong things and don’t do enough exercise to take care of it. We don’t really think much about it, and whether or not we’re letting it strain with the effort of carrying our weights around. But if God forbid, the heart’s beats start to change and turn erratic- racing, skipping beats or fluttering – suddenly all attention turns toward to it. Crash carts start rolling, defib pads and paddles get prepared for that heart in distress.
And naturally, I remembered this Hadeeth
So whenever you feel like your control issues are getting the best of you, just close your eyes and listen to your heart. Let it remind you that there’s little you can actually control.
So the post “How to stop hurting” has been one of my popular posts in the past. I don’t really understand why. Funny enough, reading it again makes me realize that I sorta disagree with myself. Nowadays, I am more in the team of ‘care less to stop hurting’. What happened? Life happened.
But I realized the reason why a lot of people land on that post because they simply ask Dr. Google, “How to stop hurting.” I guess the world is filled with pain, and our ability to feel pain makes us normal. Just a disclaimer before I proceed, I’m not talking about grief and the sort of pain one goes through after they lose a loved one. I’m talking about the low to medium sort of pain that happens when someone else hurts you intentionally or not. I’m also not talking about self-inflicted pain. If you’re suffering from that, then seek professional help. So how to stop hurting?
1) Understand why you’re hurting. Then ask why five more times. Even though this is a necessary step, it’s mostly the one ignored. A lot of times we think we know why we’re hurting, but we don’t. For instance, we might feel pain because of something somebody did to us, but if we ask why five times and dig deep into the crux of the matter, we discover that the real reason we’re hurting is because of something within us; maybe it’s our wounded ego or some unrealistic expectation. We’ve mentioned it before; expectations usually lead to disappointments, so while setting expectations, the two parties need to be aware of them. Then if the other party breaks a promise or disappoints you in some way, get hurt. Until then it’s really your fault your expectations were too high.
Deconstructing the situation with a friend who can provide a different perspective might help. This is not the time to turn to your homie who would agree with everything you say or do. You need someone more brutally honest to help you answer the question, “Am I right to get hurt?”
A lot of times why people hurt is because they have very vivid imaginations, and they attach meaning from other people’s words and actions. Be it through inference or extrapolation or maybe poor vision, the day they realize that the meaning they’ve attached has no real place in reality, they end up getting hurt at the (usually clueless) person. Being clear about the facts is sometimes necessary. Ask yourself, Real or Not Real? What is true, what is false? Am I justified?
2) After establishing that your hurt is justified, allow yourself to express it. I don’t know what about society that says that guys shouldn’t cry. I’ve discussed it earlier in “Men vs. women who should cry more”. I know how tempting it is to repress your feelings (girls and guys), but repressed feelings are just like repressed thoughts (the famous white bear study in psychology); the more you try to repress your feelings, the worse it gets in the long-run. Sometimes repressed feelings can manifest themselves in destructive ways. At other times, they only lead to you spending time and emotional energy on something for longer than you should.
So as John Green writes, “That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.”
That’s what I personally call the calorific value of pain. You just have to let the pain run its course, you need to feel it, express it, give it time if you have to. One useful thing you can do with pain is to use it in your creative works. Whether you write or paint, pain can be a very powerful driving force for action. So make use of it.
3) Learn the lesson attached to it (if applicable). Sometimes painful situations such as these show us something that is wrong with us. It’s not always ‘them’ who are wrong, even though we’d like to think it that way. So if it guides us to a character flaw we have that needs to be removed then maybe we need to work on that. But sometimes there is nothing enlightening about these situations. Someone wrongs us, we feel pain. It sucks. Life goes on. So…
4) Move on. No, really, really move on. A lot of times, we think we are over that painful incident, when we really are not. Whether it’s through the dominos effect or the trickle effect, the situation can change us. It can lead to something that leads something that leads to something that ends up with us changing in a big way. The trickle effect is when ideas and beliefs derived from the situation infiltrate themselves into our lives more subtly so we see others differently, or we see ourselves differently. Pain affects us, and maybe that’s where its power lies and maybe that’s why we tend to fear it and avoid it. But is it always a bad thing?
Moving on just means putting one step in front of the other, busying ourselves in things that take our mind away from the source of the pain. Oh yeah, that would help too; to physically move away from the source of the pain.
Finally, one thing that helps is to fill our lives with hope again. Life is made up of ups and downs. We are all very aware of that. Yet why is it easy for us to rapidly forget the ups and feel entrapped in the downs?
So this is a requested note. A friend of mine asked me to write about forgiveness. Is it better to forgive and forget, forgive but not forget, or neither forgive nor forget?
Now I’ve written on revenge and how I personally find the task energy-consuming and pointless since you could have invested that same energy on advancing your own life. Also, once you’re done with your revenge it doesn’t make you feel any better. But that post did not delve deep into the topic of forgiveness.
It is well known that forgiveness is the best way to go but it isn’t easy to do. In general I was born with an inclination towards holding a grudge. So my Modus Operandi (MO 1.0) was neither to forget nor to forgive. But then the more pain you harbor the more you realize you’re hurting only one person; yourself. The person who has hurt you might not even know what they did (or did not do) or they might know but not care. So basically I upgraded to MO 2.0 to forgive but not forget. The thing is it isn’t really easy especially when you feel someone has done you injustice and then moved on like they did nothing wrong. But as my friend is, if we forgive and not forget then we remember the incident and get hurt all over again so how does it even work? I told her, that’s true but it is really hard to wipe a memory from your existence especially if it is something that has been woven into the fabric of your psyche and basically shaped you. So MO 3.0 is to forgive, not forget the incident but remember the fact that you’ve forgiven them.
Also don’t delve in the bitterness. As I said yesterday, don’t get stuck in the past and ruminate over it. Put one step in front of the other and move on.
As much as I claim that MO 3.0 works, there are processes I personally put into place not to reach the stage of getting hurt in the first place. Some are as follows;
1) Don’t take the things that people do personally. It really is not about you as much as it is about them and their own perceptions
2) Try to see things from their point of view. Just because something is important to us doesn’t mean it’s important to them
3) Rise above the pettiness. This is something you would experience a lot if you try to pave a way of your own and you end up with so many criticizes and haters.
Also there is an interesting story I heard recently that could help. When I was watching one of the news segments on the westgate victims, the segment ended with this shell-shocked man who went to search for his father. In the end he found him but he was dead. The reporter asked, “What are your thoughts?”
He said something like, There’s nothing we can do about it. The only thing we can do is forgive them and leave it to God.
Basically our version of it is
وكلت أمري إلى الله
And I guess that’s all I can say about the topic. This is an unedited post I uploaded from my phone (in a wedding) so don’t mind any mistakes.