Monday, December 5, 2016

When Protective Love Sours

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



Have you ever made yourself vulnerable by behaving out of norm or expectation—even in a way that could have been quite beneficial—only to be reamed out by a parent or some other authority figure?

I’m sure you have. But have you also understood the mentality from which that attack had come?

You may have come up with a number of reasons more mature than, “Because they’re assholes!” But I’m going to go out on a limb and guess it’s far less likely you’ve come up with the same one I offer here.

Skewed Perception

When we make ourselves vulnerable by forgoing normalcy, expectation, and so on, other people may attack us for it.

Not that these others would necessarily think themselves to be making an attack.

Sometimes, yes. When a person behaves in a way they know is going to sting another while having no constructive purpose, this is an obvious attack. And I think most people would realize it as such within, regardless of what rationalizations they may try giving themselves or others.

But there’s another form of attack that’s founded in negativity without appearing particularly negative to the ones acting it out. This is for the reason that the behavior is believed to be based in love. Trouble is, this “love,” as it is experienced in the realm of duality, must be distorted in some way from true Love.

Of course, this distortion isn’t recognized—the attacking would cease if it were. Such recognition takes brutal self-honesty plus a sharp perception and self-awareness. If one is actively and steadily going on the offensive, they mustn’t have the wherewithal to comprehend the implications of their doings.

Intending Protection

So, what is the other form of attack that comes in the perceptual guise of “love”?

Suppose that half way through college you were to tell your parents you’re moving to another country. Forget the degree, forget a “proper” future, you’re going to Iceland.

“WHAAAAAT!?” your parents shriek. “What about your future? Your relationship? Your job? What about starting a family, a steady income, paying off your loans? This is insanity! Only an idiot would do something like this. You’ve hardly been out of your own hometown and now you say you’re moving 13,000 miles away! You know nothing about it. You don’t know the native language or customs. Don’t you realize how dangerous this could be!?”

The berating goes on, and gossip follows. Many times the situation is worsened with children who disappoint an authority figure—especially their parents—and are spanked, grounded, belittled, and so on.

This other type of attack, which can very much hurt the vulnerable ones, is, interestingly enough, a distorted-love effort at protection.

An Alternate Perspective

You told your parents you’d decided to leave for Iceland, and they instantly ripped you a new one. Or maybe you didn’t finish your dinner so they grounded you for two weeks. Or maybe your bodybuilder father ridiculed you constantly for being a wimpy piece of junk because you’d preferred to play video games than be a tough guy gym junkie like him. The possible scenarios are endless.

I’d like you to place yourself in one such occurrence—choosing one from personal experience is best.

Have it in mind?

Now I would like you to view this experience in the light of a perspective that could well be beyond any other you may have come up with as to why, when you’ve made yourself vulnerable, that someone like a parent or teacher would be so willing to hurt you.

Consider this: They fear for your safety.

Yes, the discomfort they perceive as a consequence of your behavior is their own imbalance being reflected back to them. They are the ones taking unkindly to it and then blaming and hurting you. But it’s important to understand that such offenders don’t see things this way; they don’t see their false beliefs or fears or traumas playing out. If they do happen to notice in any way, they do just as we’ve all been taught: they immediately disavow personal responsibility.

Attackers behave as they behave because they think they're keeping themselves and others safe from imaginary threats perceived to be very, very real. They therefore have no grasp on the fact that they are not actually providing loving action as they believe. It’s simply not possible because their deeper sense of true Love is all intermingled with piles of inner garbage they'd associated with that Love. Attackers are a product of their (mainly) parent-derived programming. Even the most horrific of junk is assumed (by a child) to be Love because children want only that and know no difference in their naivete and innocence that such negativity is not Love.

So, distorted though it may be, when you choose to be vulnerable, offensive moves made against you are often attempts to protect you. Those who attack you want what they want for you because they see you as being in danger and fear for your safety. In the name of “love,” they don’t want to see you get hurt.

Ironic, is it not?

Forgiveness

What then is there to do but forgive them? If we see the truth and the attackers don’t realize what they’re doing, what is there to hold against them? To blame them for? To be angry about and hold a grudge against them for?

They realize neither that there is no immediate danger to protect from nor that they are actually causing more damage than if they’d done nothing at all. And they can’t even imagine the possibility that, left to one’s own devices, making one’s self vulnerable might actually be—i.e.: usually is—far better off than sheltering and belittlement.

Their intentions, perceived by them as good, are only as high as their programming allows. They don’t understand the harm they’re truly doing. They may recognize some level of harm, like parents who spank their children, but they must still believe for some reason that this “preventative” hurt is offsetting the potential hurt of vulnerability.

In any of its dualistically-skewed varieties, offenders are showing their version of “love” the best way they know how.

Impersonality and Gratitude

If you were in a burning house and someone went in and saved you, you would probably thank them profusely for saving your life, for lovingly protecting you from severe harm. Similar goes here. Danger is perceived and then action is taken to protect you, the seemingly vulnerable. You may get burned on the way through, but at least you still have your life, so the logic could go.

Taking a higher viewpoint, you should now be able to see that there is nothing to take personally, nothing to take offense to.

Hopefully you’ll even realize the great blessing of the hurt as it’s a guidepost for in-looking and self-realization. Which is to say that potentially great healing is on offer.

A choice thus comes to you: Will you hold on, or will you forgive and gratefully accept the opportunity for self-discovery?

Wearing the Attacker’s Shoes

If you find that you’re responsible for attacking others under the guise of “loving” protection, now is a great time to do some self-inquiry. You could ask yourself about what you might be trying to get or to protect.

Superficially, you might imagine that by, say, grounding your daughter for going out to play after dark is done so that she learns “the rules,” so that she remembers “who’s in charge,” or because you want her to “be safe” that you see it as justifiable to teach her to stay in “the hard way.”

Pulling out a pen and paper might bring you to a very different conclusion. You might start coming up with realizations such as you treating your daughter exactly as your parents had treated you—with hurt in the name of “love.” You might find that you seek to control your daughter because when her location is unknown, especially after dark, you feel powerless, helpless.

Or suppose your daughter is a daily marijuana smoker and you rage at her daily for doing it. As her parent you may think, “It’s illegal, it’s bad, it’s stupid, I hate it, she’s obsessed,” and so on. But none of these feelings offer any objectivity whatsoever. So stop. Take a few steps back and reevaluate each concern. Do you actually know anything about marijuana aside from what “the authorities” have told you is “true”? Could you hate it because you’d had a bad experience with it yourself when you were younger? Figure it out.

Another very useful question to ask is why your daughter might have taken on any perceived-to-be-negative behavior she has. This is to be asked in light of the question: Could you as her parent be the principal driver of your daughter’s behavior? Could you regularly be hurting her in the name of “love” and she’s looking for an escape? Might you not give her enough attention for the positive, so she uses negativity to get more? Could you have her constantly walking on eggshells in fear of being punished, so she uses smoking to keep relaxed? Although this line of questioning may not bring you exacting answers, it will help you to reveal your own junk, as will it will help you to see that there are many perspectives—some far more rational—beyond your limited, “this-is-how-it-is” perspective.

And, finally, be mindful that the primary teachers of a child—no matter what the age—are his or her parents. If your daughter is addicted, figure out if you are the one who’s teaching it. Be intensely honest and take great care not to get caught up in appearances. No, you may have never smoked marijuana in your life. But addiction is addiction is addiction in that the same themes of belief in lies, avoidance of discomfort, and so forth underlie all of it. No matter what you may talk, if you’re daily walk is one of, say, drinking or workaholism, the underlying energy she’s picking up is one that says: “Addiction is an acceptable practice to avoid pain.”

All told, you could find quite a number of issues, none of which your daughter is directly responsible for. But, consequently, a great many of which you could be hurting her for out of fear of facing your own discomfort.

To those on the giving end, I will say to you verbatim that which I offered those on the receiving end:

Taking a higher viewpoint, you should now be able to see that there is nothing to take personally, nothing to take offense to.

Hopefully you’ll even realize the great blessing of the hurt as it’s a guidepost for in-looking and self-realization. Which is to say that potentially great healing is on offer.

A choice thus comes to you: Will you hold on, or will you forgive and gratefully accept the opportunity for self-discovery?

_____
Disclaimer: To those on the receiving end: This has nothing to do with being abused and using my words as a rationalization to "forgive and accept" and then allow it to continue. If you’re in that kind of situation, get out as fast as possible. Walk out, call the police and have the abuser arrested, or whatever you need to do to stand up for yourself. Then get to (inner-)work on yourself, because you have a lot to take care of. I do not endorse sugar-coating, delusion, or foolishness.

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