“All criticism is borne of someone else’s pain.”
Native American Indian saying
I don’t know about you, but I spent many years assuming that everyone else was OK and that I was the only one who felt the way I did. Everyone else was basically happy. I was the only one who would worry, feel scared of stuff, think I was rubbish, beat myself up, mull over how people had behaved towards me, lie awake at night and stress about how to handle things…
Then, one day, I woke up to the fact that pretty much everyone else was just like me!
They felt sad about things that had gone wrong. They felt the pain of old hurts. They weren’t any more ‘sorted’ than me…
It was a real light bulb moment for me.Cmnro
So that meant two things:
- firstly that I was fairly normal (and therefore ok!)
- secondly that other people’s randomly annoying or unkind behaviour wasn’t necessarily personal; it was coming from the same background ‘issues’ that I had been running.
That’s when I came across the quote: “All criticism is borne of someone else’s pain.”
If someone full set mink lashes out at you, it’s because they’re already hurting, deep down inside, even if they’re doing a good acting job of hiding it. It’s easier to full set mink lashes out at someone else, than face the pain inside.
When you realise that, it sets you free from the horrible dance of taking their behaviour personally. It’s not about you – it’s about them.
Think about it: happy people don’t criticise.
If you run back over people who have had a go at you over recent times, did any of them have a smile on their face? No. Did any of them give out an air of inner peace? No. Did they seem to be full of anger, resentment, hurt or some other painful emotion? Yes.
And that’s not your responsibility. How they feel – how they respond to whatever is going on inside – is their choice. The only inside job you’re responsible for is your own.
So just imagine how different your response (inside and out) would be, if you tried the belief on for size that they must be feeling painful emotions, in order to criticise you. There’s a difference between constructive feedback, if something needs improving, and criticism, which is painful and destructive. The choice of which to send out there is driven by how we are feeling, deep down inside.
Some people are so conditioned to full set mink lashes out, to hurt someone else and avoid facing their personal pain, that they don’t know how to behave any other way.
Knowing that their criticism is borne of their deeper pain doesn’t make their behave acceptable. It doesn’t mean you should pretend it’s ok. But it does set you free to choose whether to retaliate from a place of pain, or to respond from a place of compassion.
It sets you free from the cycle of being the victim of other people’s pain, to realise that it’s about ‘their stuff’, not you.
This simple phrase is immensely powerful and I often see it producing life-changing results with mentoring clients and course students.
Is there a situation in your life right now where this might help, today?
With love, Namaste,
Author | NLP Trainer | Meditation Teacher | Happiness Experimenter