Every person carries some level of emotional and physical trauma. Some people conceal it better than others. How you handle it determines the trajectory of your thinking and attitude. You can improve both your thinking and attitude.
Everyone You Meet is Traumatized
Everyone around you carrying some emotional damage, and that includes you. Many people don’t recognize this bond we have with all living creatures. The problem is, pain causes us to react in irrational and strange ways.
“Under the present brutal and primitive conditions on this planet, every person you meet should be regarded as one of the walking wounded. We have never seen a man or woman not slightly deranged by either anxiety or grief. We have never seen a totally sane human being”. — Robert Anton Wilson
Step back a moment and think about how much emotional and physical trauma you have experienced. If you are honest, you will recognize the wounds you carry. But you may not realize how these wounds affect the way you think.
We need to return to our natural state of innocence. How do you return to a place of innocence after suffering a traumatic event? We can do it, but it takes some serious inner work. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it. Inner work requires the right tools. This quest will take on a “path of self-discovery,” Joseph Campbell calls the Hero’s Journey (1).
Even if we can repair the trauma, we must embrace the realization that we are all flawed. Our biodegradable container is destined to fail. But it is the temporary nature of life and the marvelous imperfections that make us unique and therefore valuable to humankind.
Lessons to Remember
No one makes it out of this life alive. Our existential fear can motivate the inner journey where we confront this inevitability. The Hero’s Journey takes courage, mercy, kindness, and forgiveness. These attributes are other names for the virtues of the spirit.
People break in the strangest of ways, but we all share the same core lessons. One of these lessons is that everyone is traumatized. Everybody carries scars that make them unique.
“The fear of death is the beginning of slavery.” ― Robert Anton Wilson, The Golden Apple
Everyone you meet is a reflection of yourself
Physics tells us we effect, which we observe. The act of observation is an interactive exchange. When we look at something, we change it, and conversely, it changes us. When we look at a beautiful sunset, it does something to us. It resonates on some level. We understand that this beauty is fleeting and temporary. Perhaps this is why many customs and rituals are dedicated to sunrises and sunsets. The same concept applies to the people we meet.
“The outer world is a reflection of the inner world. Other people’s perception of you is a reflection of them; your response to them is an awareness of you.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
When we meet someone we like, we connect with some aspect of our nature. We may not identify this aspect, but it resonates subconsciously. The same applies when we meet someone that exhibits things we dislike. So everyone you meet is a reflection of yourself. This realization alone is motivation to show friendliness, kindness, and compassion.
Here’s a simple internal repeating question exercise. Select a day or at least an hour when you ask yourself some questions about the people you meet and the creatures you see. Even the birds and squirrels we encounter have lessons to teach us.
Ask yourself, what do you see in their faces? What answers do you get from asking this question? If you get nothing, keep asking. Sooner or later, thoughts or emotions will surface, opening your awareness. Keep asking yourself, what do you see?
Everyone you meet has something to teach you
Life is all about lessons. If we are not ready to learn the lesson, the situation will repeat. So many people find they keep repeating the same thing over and over. It could be the same type of problem or relationship.
There are those freethinkers like Nietzsche who can see life lessons as part of “The Great Spiritual Experiment.”
“A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions ― as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all”. ― Friedrich Nietzsche
Brief encounters can play an enormous role in this experiment; we call it life. Some people are in our lives for only a few fleeting moments. Sometimes these people are the ones who make the most considerable impact. It could be almost anyone. Perhaps they are the drunk driver that runs into your car and causes some trauma. Or maybe they are the person who gives you something to eat when you are hungry. You never see these people again, yet they leave you with a life-changing memory.
There are some lessons for you to learn in all encounters and relationships. Don’t forget, everyone you meet has something to teach you. Sit down and write a list of the most significant people in your life. Then write at least two things you’ve learned from the encounter or relationship.
Take your list of significant people and see common lessons or a pattern that connects several people. Be sure to include yourself on this list. What lessons have you learned, or are you learning from yourself?
Yes, even the narcissist and the con-man can teach us lessons. All the selfish and greedy people teach us what we should not become. They are examples of the slippery slope of unhealthy behaviors.
There are also people that we know for many years. They could be a coworker or significant partner. Ask yourself, what are they teaching me. What are you teaching them? Don’t forget that you are also part of the equation. You are learning from yourself. What lessons are you learning?
The best way to learn is to cultivate a beginner’s attitude. If you think you are an expert and have nothing to learn, you will miss these learning opportunities.
Everyone you meet has a battle inside
They teach us to conceal our feelings, including emotional battles, at an early age. Children ask questions about death because they want to know how to confront this fear. Instead of using this as a means of self-discovery, we often give them the counterfeit of an afterlife in heaven. All this does is substitute one fear for another. Now we have to worry about losing the afterlife rewards in fear of spending eternity in hell.
We learn to conceal our feelings. Most modern cultures teach us not to express our true feelings, so we have such a hard time talking about and healing from trauma. To compensate, we need spiritual teachers and counselors who can help us navigate this emotional terrain.
No one grows up in a completely healthy family environment. Even the idealistic families portrayed on television reveal the undercurrent of some abnormal or unhealthy activity. Take the TV program, Leave it to Beaver. Here we have a supposedly ideal suburban family situation. However, when you look at the program today, you see an undercurrent of sexism and gender discrimination. June Cleaver is always catering to the husband, Ward Cleaver, and children’s needs.
Many of the situation comedies center on some abnormal behavior. The TV program All in the Family was a sitcom centered on the conflict between Archie Bunker, a sexist bigot, and the son-in-law, Michael, a liberal. This TV program was humorous because it exposed racial and sexual bigotry we could all identify within our everyday lives.
These TV programs helped us see how everyone is traumatized, and everyone you meet has a battle inside. We could identify with the struggle and the scars from our turmoil.
“How many times… have you encountered the saying, ‘When the student is ready, the Master speaks?’ Do you know why that is true? The door opens inward. The Master is everywhere, but the student has to open his mind to hear the Master’s Voice.” ― Robert Anton Wilson, Masks of the Illuminati
Everyone is Traumatized
This message is even more critical as we try to manage the consequences of living through a pandemic. We live in a state of trauma caused by the ever-present danger.
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(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia