“You have to think about all the things you used to blame him for, and you need to blame him much more powerfully. You need to blame him consciously, effectively. Cause if you’re going to blame people for all the sh*t, you better blame them for all the good too. If you’re going to give them credit for everything that’s f*cked up, then you have to give them credit for everything that’s great. I’m not asking you to stop blaming. I’m saying blame elegantly, blame intelligently, blame effectively, blame at the level of your soul not the level of your f*cking head.” ~ Tony Robbins
Each of us carries around a load of pain.
Situations come up in every life that can be gut-wrenching and seemingly unbearable. At times like these, there seems to be only two options: put up our dukes and fight, or run.
I am learning that perhaps there is a third more graceful way to move through even the hardest situations.
My experience is a difficult thing to put in words peacefully, so I am going to put it in words of truth. I was a part of a religious organization that I now look back on as harmful in an existential way.
For 10 years of my life as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I genuinely thought that this organization was directing myself and others in the right way to live. I made connections with some beautiful and genuine people who believed that they had found the only truth. Part of the process of living that truth for them involves defending the honor of the organization without exception. If someone questions the status quo or the way that this group handles anything, they earn the label “apostate” and are shunned.
My husband and I had questions. They were huge questions about the ways that the organization handled sexual abuse cases. We tried to get answers from people we genuinely trusted and loved, but unfortunately we were branded as critical and shunned. Our situation has gone on for over a year, and it will not stop any time soon.
In addition to being my “spiritual family,” some of these people were actually my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and so on. Some of them were those friends that feel like your real family because of the level of understanding and shared experiences you have. One of them was my absolute best friend from the age of 12 onward.
I miss them. It hurts like hell. It’s like all of my family and intimate friends died in a tragic accident, except that accident was the fact that our truths differ now. The policy when it comes to their vision of a higher power is that when perspectives change, your differences are too vast to be reconciled; there is no room for a broadening of ideas—and especially no room for criticism.
In fact, you, their spouse, their sibling, or close friend are now such a danger that they cannot speak to you. You don’t share any more interactions—from something as small as no more texts and calls to the larger than life situation of being ignored in person at the store or a restaurant. It sounds terrible, and sometimes it still feels awful, but when I take a step back and remember what it was like to wear my “true believer” shoes, I see that they are living their truth the best way that they know how right now.
When I am able to do this, the negativity shifts. It shatters itself in a way. Because like Tony says, I’ve gotten it at least half wrong. Instead of accusing them solely of hate and rejection, I also need to blame them for love so strong that it will sever family ties for what it thinks is my best interest. I need to be as flattered as I am devastated. Instead of just focusing on their part in my tears brought on by loneliness, I have to thank them for the strength and the tremendous joy I have found by standing on my own two feet.
When I blame with precision, I also feel love. I stand here now in love with these people who are also in love with me.
Although it is likely that this is a permanent ending for us, it is also a beginning for me, because a love that will make itself bleed is a love that is in terrible pain and needs only tenderness and compassion. Although I cannot give that to them personally, I give it to them here in words. I encourage everyone to do the same. These are people who put themselves daily in the awkward situation of confronting your personal beliefs because they genuinely see it as their way to change the world. Kindness speaks so much louder than criticism and blame here; ultimately, we all want the same things.
So here I stand in a fierce commitment to play the blame game powerfully and effectively. It’s one of the hardest, most rewarding journeys of my life. I am grateful.
Sometimes the situations that turn things upside down are beautiful and worth embracing wholeheartedly, even if it’s just learning to consciously pirouette through the dirt in some pink ballet shoes realizing that what soils us is also the medium for the growth of beautiful things.
Bonus: The One Buddhist Red Flag to Look out for
Author: Kayleigh Starr
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Editor: Travis May
Copy & Social Editor: Yoli Ramazzina