Posted by: Arden Compton | May 5, 2016

What is hurting you?

We have all had painful experiences in life. Times where we have felt hurt, unloved, rejected, less than, like a failure, etc.  It is natural that when we are feeling hurt, to point the finger at someone else and blame them for our pain, and often another person is doing something to contribute to our pain. Sometimes we point the finger of blame at ourselves and feel self-loathing, inferior, and broken.

I had an experience years ago that gave me a different perspective on what was really hurting me. I had a job where a co-worker began to treat me very rudely.  He continued to do the same disrespectful things day after day, and it really made me angry. I mentioned it to my boss, and he said he would talk to my co-worker about it, but he never did. It really made me upset, and miserable. I was never happy at work anymore, and often the unhappiness lasted longer than my work hours. I remember feeling this tension in my gut, what this guy was doing was causing an inner rage that made my gut boil. On the outside I did my best to appear in control, but on the inside I wasn’t in control.

In this scenario it occurred to me that I did not like feeling this way, I wanted to be happy. I didn’t like being miserable, but I wasn’t sure what else to do about the situation. I remember praying about this one day as I was going about my job, and an idea came to me, “You need to apologize to him.” That was not my idea, and it sounded crazy to me. I replied, “Apologize to him? I haven’t done anything to him!” I could not think of anything to apologize to him for, so I dismissed the idea. A few days went by, I was still miserable at work, and I found myself again praying for an answer to my unhappiness. Again the impression came, “You need to apologize to him.” I still couldn’t think of a reason I should apologize, but this time, with some skepticism, I asked, “Apologize for what?” And then came one of the clearest answers to prayer I have ever had, “You have been angry with him, your anger is wrong. You need to apologize.”

This was surprising to me. It had not occurred to me that my anger was wrong, it seemed normal and completely justified. I wasn’t even sure why it was wrong, but as I considered to the possibility of apologizing to him, I felt a slight easing of the inner tension I felt in my gut. That was a significant indicator to me, so I decided I would give it a try. But this was not going to be easy. This person had become very difficult to talk to. A few days went by, and I saw him go into a room and I decided to just do it. As I came into the room, it was just the two of us. He turned around and looked  surprised to see me coming in. I walked up to him, and with no small talk, I simply said, “I have been angry with you, my anger is wrong. I am sorry.” He was really caught off guard, and mumbled a response something like, “Oh… hey… well… that’s ok….” and he brushed past me and was out the door. I didn’t have any expectations about his response, so I was okay with his lack of response.

What surprised me was that as I walked out of the room, I felt like I was walking on air! I felt so light, I felt so free! I was amazed at how good I felt, and I didn’t completely understand why. My co-worker continued to be a jerk, he didn’t change. But I was never upset by his antics again. I was no longer his victim.

It took me years to finally figure out why I felt so good after apologizing for my anger. You see, I thought it was what he was doing that was making me miserable. But it wasn’t, it was my response to what he was doing that was hurting me. My anger at him was causing me the most pain. When I stopped being angry at him, his rudeness no longer hurt me. I couldn’t control him, but I could control my response.

The story we tell ourselves about what happened, or is happening, has a bigger impact on us that what happened. Any time something negative happens, we can come away with a victim story that is disempowering and causes us pain. Or we can reframe it and find a way to take something good out of the negative experience and move our life onward and upward. The same experience can empower or disempower a person, depending on how they interpret it. Often something is hurtful because we think it indicates there is something wrong with us. We tend to define ourselves by our mistakes. It is not uncommon for a person to feel that his blackest moments show eh most truth about who he really is. This is not true, it is a lie! And the lie almost always seems to go something like this,

“Because of what happened, I’m no okay, to going to be okay, there is no Atonement, the game is over and I lose.”

We need to reframe our negative experiences to something like this,

“Even thou this happened, I am still a child of God made in the image of God. the mercy, grace, and healing capacity of the Atonement of Christ is enough to help me and/or heal this pain. Even though this really hard/painful thing happened, I am going to be okay, and all of this is meant to be for my good. What Satan wants to crush me with, God wants to exalt me with. God would not allow adversity into my life that could not be used for good! This is meant to give me experience and Christ-like qualities. In the end I WIN!”

Almost any “negative” experience can come with the lies mentioned above, and reframed with these higher truths.

Here is a link to an excellent 6 minute video that reviews some of these principles: Click here to watch  Enjoy!

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