When we can see the potential for violence in ourselves, we can begin to have more compassion when we see it in others, realizing that we are not really so different from each other after all.
We all so
easily and innocently get lost in the compelling nature of our insecure thinking, and just by happenstance of circumstance and thought, we can innocently follow the beliefs in any particular train of insecure thought. We're all guilty of it all the time,
me included. And the more we think about our insecure thoughts, and dwell on them, and reason and justify and defend them, the more they inform our lives.
When I was about 11 years old, I started
babysitting. Mostly what I remember are the parts that I didn't like... cooking, doing dishes, tidying up, trying to stay awake when the parents weren't getting home until very late, the fear of riding my bike home in the cold air and dark night at 1:00
in the morning, or the strange discomfort and awkward conversation during the drive home with the often slightly drunk father.
But there's another thing that stood out for me... my yelling. Whenever I happened
to be babysitting any family that were a bit of a challenge, I remember yelling... Yelling at them to stop fighting or misbehaving, yelling at them to finally get ready for bed after already telling them several times to do so, or yelling at them to stop talking
once they were in bed and supposed to be asleep. I remember feeling incredibly angry when I was yelling. A rage would quickly build up and it would spill out of my mouth. At the time, I had absolutely no perspective about it. It was just happening, and there
was no immediate reflection of why, or any other perspective to be taken. I was 11 years old.
For many years, I never understood where this anger and behaviour came from. I have a better sense now, but that's
At age 12, I got my first regular Saturday job working in a hair salon, so I didn't end up doing much more babysitting. But I never really forgot about the anger and the yelling, and at
some point I came to a realization about it... "If this is how I am when I babysit for a few hours, what would happen if I became a mother? What horrible things would I be capable of?" I saw that others in similar circumstances didn't always respond in the
same way, and so I knew it wasn't the kids' behaviour that was causing the anger. It was coming from me.
That experience and realization set a particular course in my life. From that point, I made the decision
that I was never going to have children. I felt I was so messed up, I didn't want to bring kids into the world and mess up their lives as well. I didn't want to be "that way", and so I simply made sure that I wouldn't. In fact I'm not sure how much I ever
yelled or acted out aggressively about anything ever again, other than memories of the occasional private screaming fit, usually aimed at myself.
Oddly enough, despite some consequences of believing in my insecurities
and hiding them away, this behaviour served me well in some ways. My ability to "not act out" in frustration or anger was incredibly helpful in relationships with friends, family, bosses, coworkers, and customers. I didn't fight back, I didn't push back, I
didn't jump to the defensive. I was rarely aggressive or offensive. I learned to back off, to let go, to turn away.
Ultimately, a big part of my desire to "not act out" came from a place of fear... fear of exposing
something inside of me that I hated, fear of shame or embarrassment if others saw how I was "less" or bad in some way, and fear of having to deal with whatever was their form of angry response. I somehow realized that anger created more anger, and
so to avoid the anger in myself and others, it was much easier for me, and made so much more common sense, to not fight back.
And it's not that I avoided proactively doing things I wanted to do for myself, or
avoided participating in life on my own made up terms... I just learned that when it came to any type of confrontation, or anything that came up from ANGER, it was wrong, it made me uncomfortable, and it was better to back off. And so it became MY automatic.
In fact, I got so good at it, I was once hired to work with all of the difficult customers that others in the office couldn't seem to handle.
Now, in light of the Three Principles understanding, I can see my history
from an entirely different perspective. I can see I wasn't broken in any way, and nor is anyone else. I can see I was innocently reacting to the belief in my made up thinking, as was (and is) everyone else. I can see I was making up interpretations and conclusions
about myself and believing them.
I can also see that I simply hadn't yet discovered that every human being on the planet naturally has plenty of moments of anger (or other insecure thinking). I can see that I
hadn't yet discovered that every angry feeling is nothing more than the result of having an angry thought while in a temporary bad mood, and was not a permanent fatal flaw of anyone's character. I can see that I hadn't yet discovered that bad moods are
perfectly natural and temporary, and will pass by all on their own when we don't give them attention and we don't take them so seriously. I can see that I hadn't yet discovered that our default human state of wellbeing is love, and naturally resets itself
whenever we're not caught up in the craziness in our head.
I can also see that just by luck of circumstance combined with my own innocently made up interpretations and conclusions, I took a direction away from
my anger that helped me get out of my thinking about it, and helped me get through life with much less negative impact than could have happened otherwise. By simple luck, I happened to listen to that one particular thought that completely informed so
many of my behaviours and hence my life... "I don't want act out agressively in anger, I don't like it, it's wrong, it scares me, I don't want to be that".
I can also see how EASY it could have been,
with the compelling nature of our thinking, to have come up with an infinite number of other different stories to believe in.... stories that perhaps told me that whatever anger I had was NOT coming from me, but instead was coming from "out
there" due to some situation, person, or group of people, and that "if only they changed" would allow me to not feel any more anger or fear.
I can see how EASY it could have been to determine that my anger
was actually helpful in solving my current perceived problem. After all, when I did yell at the kids while babysitting, they did eventually stop fighting, and they did eventually go to bed, and they did eventually stop talking and go to sleep. Perhaps
if I believed that my anger and yelling was the catalyst, instead of their eventual boredom, or change of thought, or tiredness, I might have lived an entirely different life, and inflicted a lot more collateral damage.
somehow, luckily, learned to let go of my angry thinking. Unfortunately, many others have just as innocently, NOT been so lucky.