Responses to Harm

Worried Face


By Mary Cook, M.A., R.A.S.

Worried FaceWhen someone harms us or is hurtful in some way, we tend to absorb and retain these energies.  We often obsess about the experience and tell everyone we know, letting the story and its feelings grow.  Our response to harm may be self-righteous indignation, or chronic pain and suffering.  It may be retaliation.  Or it may stimulate our own feelings of low self worth or self hate.  We might invest time, thought and emotion in wondering why someone hurt us.  We can reflect on their possible thoughts, feelings, upbringing, goals and motivation.  We can spend copious amounts of time thinking of the ways they should change and mend the hurt that they cause.  Our communication, body language, and actions are often attempts to manipulate or punish, those whom we feel have hurt us.

Even when our own behavior is harmfully wrong, we tend to focus negative responses onto those who confront or impose unwanted consequences on us.  We thus add to our own unhealthy behaviors, the emotions of anger, bitterness and blame toward others.  We commonly become angry with our own body, or diseases that we contract through our unhealthy habits or neglect.

Ironically we believe that maintaining vigilant attention to the components of past negative experiences will alert us to prevent repeat episodes.  Conversely this is the very force that precipitates continuing problems.  These patterns of externalizing what is wrong, without taking responsibility for solutions, keeps us stuck in escalating negative patterns.  The amount of painful energy that we absorb from the original problem multiplies from our defensive and offensive reactions to it, and repeated recounting either in our minds or to others.  This is how the energy of harm expands, attracting similar experiences, preventing solutions, and blocking the flow of our own evolution.

We are all imperfect human beings with healthy and unhealthy traits.  We live on a planet where pristine paradise, natural disasters and constant change coexist.  And yet we court false beliefs dictating that we should have all that we desire for as long as we wish, and none of what we fear.  This denial of the duality and transformations of the earth and its inhabitants, puts us in constant conflict with life.  Attempts to capture, cling and control external circumstances are doomed to failure and misery. This focus causes us to forget what we have to give, and overlook the blessings that we do receive.  No matter how, when and where harm began, responses that increase our negative energy diminish, and if severe, preclude the possibilities of natural joy, hope and appreciation in the rest of our life.  The dark and light side of life are inextricably woven together.  Just as ignorance precedes knowledge and healing follows illness, shadows are necessary to allow us to more clearly see and appreciate the light.

Cultivating a mature adult relationship with ourselves means that we acknowledge the whole of who we are.  This entails honesty, deep understanding, responsibility for our well being, learning, growth and integrity.  It includes setting healthy boundaries between aspects of ourselves, other people or situations that are destructive.  It is wise to do this without anger or other negative emotions, because a mind full of complaints and criticisms isn’t capable of finding a solution.  We can refuse to participate in or add to any harm that visits us.  Our best response to harm or potential harm is to seek safety, assistance, healing, a better understanding of ourselves, and personal and spiritual growth.

Instead of focusing on who hurt us or why, we can identify the consequences of harm that we carry inside of us and in our interactions with life.  We can surrender all of the ways in which we are hurtful to ourselves and others.  We can shift our focus from harm to healing, from perpetrators to helpers, from past hurt to present safety, from victim to miracle, from anger to peace, from despair to grace.  And we can do this work with the emotions of compassion, curiosity, faith, gratitude and humility.  This puts us in the energy of the solution and in harmony with life, regardless of current conditions.  When we no longer feed the fire of negativity, we can rise from the flames of harm and allow our hearts to tell a whole new story.


Chasing After False Gods – The Attitude Of Gratitude



By Mary Cook, M.A., R.A.S.

Chasing after false gods of money, power, possessions, sex, alcohol and other drugs, instead of asking what it is that we hope to feel, and what it is that we are running from.  When did we jump on a treadmill of escalating expectations and call it life?  When did we learn to fear our own pure feelings deep within?  When did we stop trusting our connection to the infinite?  When did we stop believing in our ability to evolve from all that we and life create?

sunsetTypically the desire underlying addictions is to experience a sense of peace, wholeness, happiness, positive esteem and fulfillment.  Ironically addicts experience chronic conflict and pressure, a sense of deficiency, misery and shame, a life out of balance and continually contracting, distance and loss of what one loved, and diminishing self-care and adult responsibility.  Addiction only gives us a bed of roses at the cemetery.  Supporting our true desires means that we find the place where we feel whole deep inside, we find all that’s precious within us, and we find blessings and miracles in everyday life.

We can lose our sense of safety and run away from life.  We can fear others’ intentions and stay small and self contained.  We can steal, lie, intimidate and fight our way through life.  We can isolate from authentic engagement and fantasize that we are free.  But we’re really on a self made island running out of food.  So when do we meet the sadness with a compassionate heart?  When do we face the trauma and begin our healing journey?  When do we find what is trustworthy in us and in our life?  When do we find the nourishment that can’t be taken away?  When do we find the sacred bond and know that we are free?

We can accept each moment exactly as it is, or we can try to control, quarrel, deny or hide from it.  We can focus on our judgment of the moment, or we can focus on our highest, healthiest response to it.  We can accept that all of life is intertwined, or we can divide life into hierarchies, friends and enemies.  We can focus on our unique selfish needs, or we can focus on actions that bring the greatest good for all.  We can live in a powerful evolving spiritual partnership, or we can live in a futile competitive race, based on craving what cannot be possessed.

Instead of chasing after false gods and running away from life, we can stand completely still in the fullness of truth right now.  We can surrender stress and fear, and open our hearts to love.  We can accept the amazing and mysterious interweaving of earthly lessons and heavenly grace, and evolve from all that we and life create.  When we release our need to acquire, change or control anyone or anything, we can stand in awe and wonder and feel the fullness of our holy hearts joined in loving unity with all.