What Inside Us Calls Forth Nastiness?

Photo: nicora

What Makes Us Mean? Why do We Abuse the Other?

I feel shaky, yet grounded and clear.

I just walked away from an abusive encounter, feeling untouched by the insults that were hurled at me. The words had no power to hurt, and nothing to hook into, not anymore.

It’s taken a long time, but I’ve come into a place of power where I know that what another person says, thinks or does has nothing to do with me.

That abuse, it’s not personal. It’s not about me. If it was, everyone I met would be saying the same nasty things. No, the abuse coming from that person is about them. I’m triggering whatever it is that lives inside of them.

Walking away, untouched, unhurt, unfeeling, I felt like I’d been given a gift. Life was showing me how far I’d come and how much I’ve changed. I was grateful. Even to the person abusing me.

Later, a few minutes after driving away, I parked my car and sat. Now I was shaken, now I was feeling, now I was upset. The words themselves hadn’t affected me, but what the abuse revealed about the ongoing nature of the relating between this person and I—that affected me.

So I sat. I watched my mind. I breathed into my feelings. I allowed myself to be. In the sitting, I felt into the fullness of the experience and questioned into the ideal response (is there such a thing? Or is there only the actual response?).

This sitting is important.

If I wasn’t to sit and feel into my experience, instead pushing it away and going about my day, the energy of the unexpressed feelings and thoughts would manifest in other ways. Energy has to go somewhere. It can’t disappear. It’s always transmuted.

Sitting and feeling into my experience doesn’t mean that I react to what I’m feeling or thinking, only that I stay present to it, observing it as it arises.

This is my practice, integrated into my life.

This is meditation, taken into my day.

This is how I’m incrementally learning to master my mind, and master my emotions. Not by controlling either of them, but by giving them the attention they need. By seeing them. Hearing them. Feeling them. Acknowledging that they’re there, and that they’re okay.

I had planned to come to the library and write the workbook I’m creating for a yoga workshop I’m delivering next weekend. I want to do this. I don’t want to let the events of the morning derail me because it feels like I’m letting the abusive person control my life, and control me.

I notice that wanting. I notice the desire to stay clear and grounded in my life. But I also check in and see what it is that I need. The events of the morning have shifted my energetic, emotional and mental state. My needs have changed.

First I text a friend and make arrangements so I don’t need to see this person again today. I need to protect myself. Second, I take time to be where I am. I’m sitting in my car still, and watch a parking meter man chalk my car. Two hours. Time enough to go into the library and just see what arises. Maybe I’ll work. Maybe I won’t.

In the library my eye is drawn to the religious section. Last time I was here, I couldn’t find that section of the library, this time it’s the only section I can see. A quick browse reveals four books worth taking off the shelf, books that are piled up beside me now. One or two might even help with my workbook.

As I browsed through the many books written on spirituality, oneness and God, I could feel the need for expression. For writing. There is something in making manifest my internal experience that helps me to be with it. It’s all grist for the mill. Maybe this is what calls the artist—that need to express what is experienced, the need to share it with others and so reveal the reality experienced within, widening others’ experience of what it means to be alive.

So I do.

I sit. And I write. In the writing, I feel relief. A sense of:

Ah, yes, here I am. It’s all okay. I’m okay. This is okay. Just another experience. Not a big deal.

And I wonder… what inside us calls forth nastiness? What makes us mean? Why do we abuse the other?

What was this person hoping to achieve? What did they want to create? Or are they being run entirely by unconscious desires and unconscious needs? Are they playing their part in a drama, of which I have a role to play too?

It doesn’t really matter, why they do what they do. Oh, I can feel into their experience, I can call up that part of me which could be abusive and nasty and mean and see what it feels like from the inside out so that I may understand them better. But what they do? It doesn’t matter.

All that matters is how I respond.

This is the difference between trying to control the world outside of us, which paradoxically turns us into its victim.

And responding to the world outside of us, which calls forth our empowerment.

He is who he is.

I am who I choose to be.

Therein lies my power.

And perhaps that is where his rage comes from, his anger too. He feels no choice in his circumstances, in his relating to me. He feels my power and has yet to feel his own. He feels a victim to me and all that I have done, and in that powerless, helpless state, needs to call forth his anger and his rage so he can feel strong again.


‘Tis only a musing of my mind.

I could be wrong.

It might be something completely different.

~ Like elephant love on facebook. ~

Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

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Kat Jun 19, 2013 8:00am

We cannot learn to respect others unless we learn to respect ourselves. And we cannot learn to respect ourselves if the people in our lives keep trying to tell us, either in words or actions, how to talk or behave, just to please society, or family, at the very least. And not knowing how to respect ourselves comes from early childhood "programming" for lack of a better word. Is this the root of the abuse and nastiness? Maybe. If we are abused at all in anyway, and we don't come across any mitigating circumstances or people to correct our thinking, we end up with festering angry wounds, and we take it out on those we say we love. Some people are abusive because they literally learned what they lived. Some are just downright selfish and never had any correction of any kind, and are narcissistically unaware of their faults and faulty notions. This last sentence describes my late grandmother. It's taken over ten years of therapy for my dad to work through a lot of the verbal BS he got from his mother. And he is still not done yet. I've mastered some of my own fallout issues related to my grandmother as well as my dad (who is really a good guy–just a mite pedantic and a bit controlling in his attitudes sometimes). But it has not been an easy road, and I think it would have been a much longer road had it not been for the mitigating force of my favorite musician, showing me what I need to do for myself to grow into the kind of emotionally balanced human I want to be.

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Kara-Leah Grant

Kara-Leah Grant is an internationally renowned retreat leader, yoga teacher and writer. She pours her love into growing a world-wide tribe of courageous, committed, and empowered individuals through leading retreats in New Zealand, Mexico, and Bali. Kara-Leah is also the founder of New Zealand’s own awesome yoga website, The Yoga Lunchbox, and author of Forty Days of Yoga—Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice and The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga. A born & bred Kiwi who spent her twenties wandering the world and living large, Kara-Leah has spent time in Canada, the USA, France, England, Mexico, and a handful of other luscious locations. She now lives and travels internationally with her son, a ninja-in-training. You can find Kara-Leah on her website, or on Facebook.