Give your brain a break !!  ...item 4B.. "...

Give your brain a break !! …item 4B.. “If” by Joni Mitchell …item 5.. How Much Blaming Should We Do? — “A person sees all wounds except his own.” (Jul 11th, 2012) … (Photo credit: marsmet543)

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Eleanor Roosevelt

I have been dealing a lot lately with the issue of bullies in my life, both past and present. See my articles The Fallacy of Being a “Good Person“, Forgiving the Unforgivable, and Verbal Abuse, Mental Health and the Buddha.  The story of the Buddha caught my eye because of its eloquent simplicity. By gently refusing to accept the criticism leveled at him, he turned an enemy into a friend.

That sounds very similar to the advice that we all got as kids, the old “sticks and stones” defense. However there is a big difference. We may attempt to put on a brave face when inside we are hurting. Because contrary to what we have been taught, words do hurt.

So why is it that sometimes we can brush off someone’s putdowns when at other times it feels like we have been lanced with a sword? I believe one reason is that it has to do with self-image.

Basically self-image is how we view ourselves, much of which is determined by input from others. Our self-image is mostly determined in childhood. As a child we are wide open to input, both good and bad. If we receive praise and love then we will learn to value ourselves.

In my own childhood I had a mother who gave me very mixed messages about myself. When I spoke at the wrong time when she was busy it was understandable that she would get upset. What I couldn’t understand was her reaction of crying and asking me why I wanted to hurt her. Now as an adult I can see that I did not have any evil motives, but as a child I believed every word my mother told me. As a result I grew up with a very toxic self-image.

The difference between constructive criticism and verbal abuse is that the former addresses behavior, while the latter attacks you as a person. It becomes a problem for us because we internalize it and it becomes our identity.

And that is why some people can push our buttons, because they can hone in on our insecurities.

The example of Buddha is so powerful because he set an example of someone who was totally at peace with himself, sure of his identity and purpose. He was able to resist his enemy’s poisonous attacks because he knew in his heart that they were not true.

So the lesson that I draw from this is that I really need to look at myself and understand why it is that I react to certain people and how I perceive myself.