Hurt People Hurt People

hurt people hurt peopole


People who are hurt, specifically in an emotional or psychological sense, tend to hurt other people. Hurt people hurt people; they do so with harsh words, biting comments, derogatory statements, ridicule, condescension, sarcasm, yelling and screaming, cussing and innuendo about family members or friends. It doesn’t really matter how a person came to be hurt, for there are hundreds of ways it can happen: childhood trauma such as physical abuse or rape, parental neglect, peer bullying, sibling conflict, to name a few. These painful experiences can be lodged in the psyche and seek outlets whenever possible. Hurt people are known to have ‘triggers,’ i.e., situations that can activate their hurt and cause them to lash out with vitriolic and vehement words and actions, often directed to the people closest to them. Because trauma and hurt are so very common in the world, it behooves anybody to have some understanding about how best to respond to such outpourings upon us, and avoid being hurt ourselves by such, should that occur.

  1. Don’t take it personally. Hurt people are a little on the blind side when it comes to discrimination. They don’t readily see that you are an innocent bystander, had no intention of triggering their pain, were only trying to help, etc. If you happen to inadvertently say something or behave in such a way as to trigger a painful memory in someone, recognize it as a healing process on his or her part. They were just allowed to express old hurt that needed an outlet; you just happened to be convenient at that time and in that place. Whereas the vitriol may be directed at you, and may appear to be about you, it is far more likely it is about something that happened in the past, and about someone other than you.
  2. Listen. Arguing and reacting against the onslaught of hurtful words can only serve to make the person serving them bolder and more aggressive. You can even employ ‘active listening skills’ by mirroring and paraphrasing what they are saying to you. This can be very effective in defusing the situation. Of course, by hurling back hurtful words to them helps nobody and only increases the hurt. So, say little, listen much.
  3. Have Compassion. There are some lovely Biblical sentiments that can help prevent us from getting upset, angry or hurt ourselves by the onslaught of hurtful energy that may come our way. Consider “forgive them for they know not what they do” or “judge not, lest ye be judged” or “forgive those who trespass against us…” and “ blessed are the merciful.” It can be an empowering experience to express these ideals in a situation where they can actually be quite helpful.
  4. Be your own authority. It is often said that nobody can hurt you without your permission. You need not give a hurtful person permission to hurt you with their words. You can recognize that they themselves are hurt, but that does not mean that you allow them to hurt you. It is almost as if you have a protective shield which disallows the acceptance of words that are untrue, inaccurate, invalid, false, fictitious, fallacious, faulty and, yes, hurtful.
  5. Walk away. If you cannot yourself take the hurtful venting from a hurtful person, then leave. You are not obligated to remain. You can even state to them that you are not in a position at this time to listen and then excuse yourself. If need be, go talk with a friend, or a professional, about the incident so you can debrief and defuse it within yourself so it does not become some trigger for you later on down the road.

Perhaps the most helpful piece of advice one can remember when interacting with a hurt person is to avoid being hurtful back. It may prove useless trying to be nice to them as they are not in need of niceties; they are in need of an avenue of venting, releasing and pouring out the hurt that is there within them, and has probably been there within them for a long, long time, festering over the years. It is sufficient that you simply not add to that pile of hurt either through leaving, or listening.

The Bully in the Brain

the bully in the brain

Let’s say, by way of analogy, that you, as the driver of the vehicle, reside in the heart of your body. The engine of the vehicle resides in the head of the body, in the brain. As the driver you can have the most beautiful ideals, goals, objectives, hopes, dreams, wishes and wants, and be stuck right where you are, if the engine is not working.

We need to understand a little about our brain engine so, as the heart-seated driver of the vehicle, we can go places, do things. In our heart, as the driver, we may be rather frustrated if those hopes and dreams, wants and wishes are obstructed, because the brain engine is not firing on all cylinders. It needs a tune-up. It needs its timing reset. Moving parts need to be lubricated. Our higher brain functions, referred to as our executive functions, are very active, lots of moving parts. Our emotional brain is older, deeper, more fixed; it has moving parts as well. The part with the fewest moving parts, and often at rest, in peace, at ease, is that region of the brain commonly referred to as ‘the reptilian brain’ herein referred to as ‘the biological brain.’ Of course, the emotional brain and the executive brain are biological. The biological brain is the basis, the root, the power.

The biological brain engine in the body vehicle, of which you are in the heart of the driver’s seat, is intelligent. Although we are more advanced in emotional and executive functionings, we have sacrificed integration of that reptile, that animal, at ease, at peace in the world, into our lives, in favor of executive functioning, which rule with iron-fisted realities. It’s like an engine being run constantly at the red line. It’s going to wear down the moving parts quickly. Turning off the executive functions, and the emotional functions, to reside in existential peace and ease, to be in that animal brain idle, is a tune up for the whole brain engine.

But, the executive functions have taken over, commandeered the brain engine, caged it and now makes it perform, incessantly. Attempts to drive the vehicle towards that calm, organic state of animal idle, is obstructed, blocked, prevented, by the demands of the executive functions. The executive functions are powerful and do take command. They can regulate, or dis-regulate, emotions. Certainly they are behind decisions and actions. They are often less in command of reactions; the emotional brain, can, and very often does, intercede and override executive functions. The vehicle can drive erratically, as if the spark plugs are misfiring. And, indeed, they may be. Time for a tune-up.

Drive the vehicle over towards the biological brain bay and rest a while. Be like a polar bear laying in the snow, a sea otter floating on its back; be like a simple animal, a mammal; be like that magnificent ape, sitting, quiet, at ease, surveying its domain, for hours, idle, without a bully badgering it.

Read the companion blog post Told What To Do


Lay Down Your Burden – And Increase Your Motivation

lay down your burden and increase your motivation

Too often we come home from a hard day at work and don’t much feel like doing things; we don’t have the motivation to do some of our own personal projects. We’re spent. Tired. This is unfortunate because this is now our personal time, a time when we can approach our interests, hobbies or simply being with friends or family. There is a little trick we can employ to help us increase our motivation.

One reason we may not feel motivated upon our return from work is because we still carry the burdens of the day with us. We have not let it go. Our burdens are not bad things, they are our obligations and responsibilities; they are important and often provide us with meaning and purpose; and yet, they can wear on us throughout the days, weeks, months and years. When we come home, they need not, nor should not, burden us. We need to lay them down. Here is a technique you can use to help you lay down your burdens and increase your motivations.

This method makes use of a talisman, one which you create. A talisman is an object which is “programmed” to bring about specific emotions or moods. The first part of this method is to find some object, something meaningful and beautiful though small. Let’s say it is a key chain or key ring, or a necklace. It needs to be of value to you. You may need to go buy one. Or, make one. Perhaps it has a favorite gemstone attached or is made of a precious metal. Once you have this item. You invest it with your personal energy by holding it in your hand and imagining a variety of images and feelings associated with your “burden” – with your obligations and responsibilities. Again, these are not negative images of heaviness or pressure but rather the images and feelings of strength, power, purpose, clarity, energy and other themes which you presumably would choose to bring to your daily work. Every day for two weeks you ritually hold this item in the palms of your hand and impregnate upon this item those positive feelings. You simply feel the item in your hand as you recall any number of experiences in which those positive feelings were real and vibrant. As you have those feelings and images in your mind, you feel the talisman in the palm of your hands. When the two weeks are completed, you have a talisman. You then carry, or wear, this item, this talisman, with you to work and keep it with you. Every time you think about it, or touch it, it reminds you of those positive feelings, which is the basis of motivation. The critical part comes when you arrive home for it is then that you take this talisman and lay it down. You put it aside, in a drawer…along with the all the obligations and responsibilities of the burden you carry each day.

You also create a second talisman. This one should also be a beautiful item of value. Perhaps a necklace, anklet or a wristwatch that you only wear after work hours, and on weekends. You take this item and just as you impregnated the work related talisman with positive feelings of obligation and responsibilities, this item you infuse with feelings of enjoyment, calmness, serenity, comfort, peace, energy, clarity, casualness and other positive feelings you would like to have during your personal time at home, with family and friends, or even alone pursuing individual interests. Just as explained above, every day for two weeks you ritually hold this item in the palms of your hand and infuse upon this item those positive feelings. Upon returning home, after laying down the talisman of obligation and responsibilities, you take up the talisman of personal enjoyment and comfort. Every time you think of, or feel, this item, it reminds you of those positive feelings associated with being home, on your own time, unburdened.

You may want to create other talismans for there may be mild obligations and responsibilities, chores and duties, which are required, while at home in the evening or on weekends and while engaged in those tasks, you would wear or have upon your person that particular talisman. Each talisman would have its own positive energy, its own set of images and feelings. The important point to remember would be to lay down any one talisman before you picked up another.

Our motivation comes from within us, not from without. And, our motivation is often generated by the images and feelings we hold within us. The use of talismans can resonate with those images and feelings that we have imbibed them with thereby activating those positive feelings and images and thereby increasing our motivations.


Mental Health is Contained in Language

mental health is contained in language

Our experience in life, even in the womb, is one of sensation. All our physical sense channels, collectively referred to as ‘the sensorium,’ make up the body of our experience, which is then represented with language. In other words, we can share our experiences because of representational language, because of words and pictures. It makes sense then, that a lot of our mental health is contained in language because all of  our experience of which we have identified, codified, is contained in language.

Sensation is just sensation. It is raw experience. Sensation can be described, with language, in terms of intensity, duration, frequency, temperature, weight, pressure color, hue, shade, sound, rate, rhythm, bitter, sweet, pungent, aromatic. Lots of words available to help codify and represent raw sensational experience. Sensation itself is without words,without description, without meaning, other than what we give to it, with language.

We use language every day all day, both with others, and internally in what is referred to as internal dialogue, or ‘self-talk.’ Self talk is the undercurrent of chatter, using language, to make statements about situations; those statements, valid or erroneous, become the platform then for our sense of personal self, our sense of others, the experience we recognize as our reality. A lot of that reality is ‘shared reality’ in large part because of the same language. Language is a kind of encoding, and decoding, system. We use words, spoken and printed, to convey experience, ideas, concepts, information. We also use visual images to convey the same. Visual symbols carry a lot of power. Even language is composed of visual symbols, the letters, which make up printed, and spoken, words, associated with sounds, and sights, and feelings.

We typically refer to physical gestures we make, which are visual images, both obvious and subtle, as body language or non-verbal behavior. The term non-verbal behavior is non-descriptive. It is like saying the sky is not green. But, what it is it? The sky is blue; non verbal behavior, or gestures, is visual communication. It is sight. Words, images, behaviors are all used in communication. Behaviors, from slumped in a chair with depression to ecstatic acting out in mania, is communication. We communicate with others, and within ourselves, using language, primarily composed of words and pictures. Words and pictures makes up the bulk of our thinking. Thinking is using words and pictures to define and give meaning to our sensory experience.

The sensorium, the collection of different senses, is composed of the 5 channels we are all familiar with: sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. The content of our sensorium, our raw sensory experience, through these basic 5 channels, is the material we use to build our reality, through codification, with language. One of our more sensational channels in the sensorium is touch, and body feelings, technically referred to as ‘kinaesthetics.’ Our kinaesthetic experiences are preverbal. We feel sensation before we describe it. A child of 1 year feels a lot, and has no auditory or visual representations for it, yet. We codify our kinaesthetic feelings with words, and pictures. In some cases, those feelings are so intense, or so sublime, they cannot adequately be codified by language; they cannot be expressed; they are ineffable, inexpressible.

Mental health is a poorly understood term; but then, so is health, and so is mental. We typically think of health as the absence of disease when in fact it is so much more than that. To say a person has gone mental is to suggest they have lost their mind, when in fact it could mean they have gained insight, understanding or have had a transformational breakthrough, what is sometimes called ‘metanoia,’ which is kind of like a ‘new mind.’ We use the term mind a lot, not really knowing what it does, how it works. Learning a bit about how we use language within ourselves, and with others, can help us understand the relationship between mind and body, mental and physical, because the language we use on ourselves, and with others, does influence state of mind, which does have influence over state of body, just as state of body has influence over state of mind. The language we use on ourselves can generate hormones in the blood, just as seeing somebody bleeding generates self talk.

We use words a lot, perhaps too much; that undercurrent of self-talk chatter is actively interpreting and evaluating and commenting upon sensory experience of sights, sounds, feelings, smells, tastes, situations, contexts. Kinaesthetic sensations, ie,, the sense of touch and body feelings, as one of the sensorium channels, is often overshadowed by sight and sound but may at times be more valid than conclusions arrived at through the more visual and auditory processes. There is a lot of ‘body intelligence’ that communicates through kinaesthetic sensations. How does one talk about kinaesthetic sensations, ie, feelings, in, and on, the body, using language? How do we incorporate kinaesthetics into our self talk, and into our thinking, more consciously? How do we invite feeling into thinking?

Mental health is contained in language; it is about how language organizes the content of the sensorium in a way that is coherent, comprehensive and wholistic, or not so, in which case, dis-ease and dis-comfort would be expected. The sensorium is somewhat like a complex woven tapestry of many threads in many colors with shifting scenes, sights and sounds and smells and tastes, and feeling, like a living garment, woven day by day, hour by hour, by our own thinking and use of language; a web, if you will, in which we are entangled, by thought and language, trying to get out, to understand, to know. In a crazy world in which we drive on parkways and park on driveways, language can have us parking in the street,or driving in the park, just as it can also have us drive well on the highway and park comfortably at home.


More ABC’s of Rational Thinking

rational thinking and beauty go together

Here are a few more ABC’s of Rational Thinking, as a sequel to the post The ABC’s of Rational Thinking

The Triad of Inertia: Can’t, Won’t & Don’t.

The ‘I can’t’ phrase is one of the more everyday lies we tell to ourselves, and others. The reality is we can, and choose not to. We generally have very good reasons for choosing not to pursue some activity, behavior, skill, relationship. We say ‘I can’t’ to avoid responsibility and ownership of our state of mind. The human mind, and body, is capable of extra-ordinary feats. If one human can do it, any human can do it. Of course, it may take many years, decades, to accomplish being able to do it, and do it well. But, we can do it, if we so choose. So, the more realistic, and empowering, phrase to use instead of ‘I can’t’ is won’t or I will not. Or, I choose not to.

Don’t, or do not, is, again, like can’t, coercive; that is, the language of you can’t do this or that, you won’t or don’t do this or that. Presumably, these demands are imposed upon us by authorities such as parents and teachers. We continue to use them as adults because they are very ingrained as habitual language patterns we use when talking to ourselves, which we do constantly. We have a never ending stream of commentary going on. We can get very wrapped up in the commentary, and upset when disrupted, when asked to put it aside and do your work. Like daydreaming, and coming back to this reality.

The common denominator with can’t, won’t and don’t is coercion. Unlike shoulds and have to’s which are coercive towards something; can’t, won’t and don’t is coercive away from something, it is prohibitive.The human ethos is rooted in doing what is prohibited. You can’t eat that! And, so, it is eaten. What we might call original oppositional defiance. But, let’s imagine, if you will, being told by a very high authority to not eat an apple on the tree, and you abide by that command and do not eat the apple; yet you very much want to eat the apple. And, you don’t. Perhaps compliant now, and also tired, lethargic, unmotivated and depressed, because you want, and can’t have. And then, years later, we see an apple on a tree, have the thought to go pick it and eat it, and tell ourselves we can’t, because we were told don’t, and won’t; and, again fall into the fault zone of depression, and inertia, based on a belief schema about what happens when opposing prohibitions.

Catastrophizing & Magical Worry

The mind is very creative and can find significant joy in fabricating scenarios, positive and negative, and shades of hues in between; and yet,few situations rise to the level of catastrophe, and yet we may use language within ourselves that make it out to be the worst thing in the world. There could be benefit to this if when the catastrophe does not occur, there can be significant relief. This is a bit like ‘magical worry’ in which the belief is that worry itself wards off that which it is worried about. If you don’t worry, that which you are not worrying about, will happen. Because so much of our understanding around concepts is in contrast to its opposite, understanding this process of catastrophizing, magical worry, and making mountains our of molehills, in comparison to its opposite, can be helfpul. Let’s postulate that the opposite of catasrophization is ‘minimization.’ At the more extreme side of things minimizing is just as dysfunctional as catastrophizing. That being said, some minimization may well be called for to counter a fabricated catastrophe.

Generalizations & Distortions

The mind also likes to generalize and can take one trait, one behavior, one incident, from one person, and generalize about all of humanity. We may use words like ‘everyone’ or ‘all the time’ or ‘always’ and ‘never’ to represent this gross generalization. ‘I’m never going to be able to do this or be that; I’m always going to have to deal with this.’ ‘Everybody is out to get me.’ ‘Nobody likes me.’

There is a time and place for generalization; it makes communication convenient, not to mention a very simple way of building a reality. This tendency to generalize is most obvious when in a traumatic situation. At those times, the impact of the trauma becomes a kind of baseline through which all subsequent experience is filtered. If you were bitten badly by a big dog as a child, all dogs are a potential threat. That one experience has generalized to encompass a very specific field. For this same person for whom all dogs are a threat because of one dog, could be entirely comfortable with several different brands and models of automobile. The adolescent who is spurned may now generalize that one painful, hurtful situation into others as an inevitability.

Generalization is often, easily, distorted. We may recall a traumatic situation, even one mildly so, and what we recall is not what happened. What we recall is what we think happened, what we remember happening; but, memory is not that reliable, especially over time. Growing up is not without its traumas, which is a Greek word meaning ‘wound.’ We are not without our wounds, and wounds contribute to distortions of thinking. If we are hurt, there is more likelihood of not being accurate and coherent, rational and realistic, which are distortions


One of the most substantial cognitive faults is believing that we must know. Of course, we do know a lot of everyday things; we know how to drive a car, boil and egg, complete a myriad of tasks at work, have some fun with a hobby or sport or game or socializing. And yet, when it comes to the way we think, how we have built up our personal reality, our beliefs, we don’t know if they are valid, useful, accurate, erroneous, productive, or counterproductive. We don’t know a lot about ourselves, and even less about others, and far less about the world, and the universe of which we are all, individually and collectively, a small expression. But, we have beliefs about all of that, and more. We think we know.

To acknowledge that we don’t know is rather liberating. And, it opens the mind to information that is not available when the belief is such that I already know.