THE SEPARATION GAME
Last week, a friend of mine called to say her feelings were hurt. It seems a friend of hers posted a video on Facebook that eluded to some close friends not being supportive of her recently. My friend felt she was one of those close friends and that the video was a direct stab at her. My take? One friend with hurt feelings hurt another friend who now, also, has hurt feelings. The consequence of this? Separation. Separation is when we distance ourselves, or sever the relationship, from another. It’s when the connection is lost, temporarily or permanently. Separation is painful for the heart and soul since this is not our natural state of being.
It seems to me there is a lot of dissing going on these days whether it’s in Hollywood or in our hometown. However, this ugliness, meanness and unhappiness isn’t necessary and can be alleviated if we are willing to discover where the real unhappiness comes from. With awareness and understanding comes healing and with healing comes connection and togetherness. This is who we are at our cores. And no one is truly separate from another.
I call separation a game because it comes with rules, winners and losers. We win by denouncing another for not having played by the rules. “She lost my friendship because she didn’t do what I expected of her. She loses.” But the rules are made up and they can change mid-game. Additionally, each player brings their own version of I believe I’m not good enough to the game, which skews it even further. The outcome is always the same: no one wins. Everyone who plays loses.
This is where I want to begin breaking down hurt feelings using the Facebook video situation stated above. Once we are aware of the game, we can move forward without participating in it until it finally dissolves and leaves us completely, where we are free to live without the pain of this game. We can stop dissing each other and all be friends again, which always feels better to the heart, mind, body and soul.
BREAKING IT ALL DOWN
To break this down, let me begin by saying we only diss others when we feel bad about ourselves. There must be an underlying unhappiness in us for us to attack/blame another-it wouldn’t happen otherwise. Investigate this for yourself so you can see it clearly. Here’s the other thing-we only react/take something personally when we think we aren’t good enough.
Back to the Facebook video that said my close friends haven’t been supportive of me lately. The person who posted the video is blaming others for her unhappiness. You are a close friend, so you think this means you. All we have here is one unhappy person attacking/blaming and another unhappy person reacting/taking it personally. The chart below helps gain a better understanding of how this closed-loop system of unhappiness and separation (more unhappiness) works. And it works whether you’re attacking or reacting.
In our Facebook example, here’s what’s really happening:
- Person 1, the attacker/blamer, is unhappy in her life – she states in the video she hasn’t met professional goals lately, she hasn’t been taking care of her body, has gained weight and other things I haven’t been doing for myself. Person 1 doesn’t feel good about herself. Her unhappiness is coming from within. It’s not because someone else didn’t support her. She hasn’t been supportive of herself. Here is the opportunity for her to look within, to grow personally and experience true happiness.
- Person 2, the one who reacted, is unhappy in her life- a people pleaser who “tries” to be a good friend to all people. Person 2 doesn’t feel good enough. Taking a statement personally, like some of my friends haven’t been supportive of me lately, happens because, in the realm of, I’m not good enough, we unknowingly look for situations to validate this belief. What her friend said in the video has nothing to do with her reaction. It can help her see what she believes about herself, but that’s all. She is reacting because she comes to the game with a belief of inadequacy.
When we don’t blame others for our unhappiness, we are able to look within to determine the real source of our unhappiness-our belief about ourselves-not a truth, a belief, that we are inadequate. Our unhappiness is not due to someone or something out there.
In effect, your unhappiness is within you and my unhappiness is within me. My unhappiness isn’t because of you. Blaming you for it only creates a distraction to the truth about what’s happening for me. Removing the distraction allows me to become aware of my own ideas about me. Healing begins at this point. I can stop taking things personally, in effect, blaming you for my unhappiness. And you can stop attacking me, in effect, blaming me for your unhappiness.
WHY DO WE BELIEVE WE ARE INADEQUATE?
That’s a good question. In my book, Mood, Food and Gratitude: Healing from the Way We Think (2016, Balboa Press), I state that we are trained to believe there is something wrong with us. It’s as if we are born in the red, so to speak, and we spend our lives trying to get in the black. Said another way, we are born with something missing and we have continuously search for that something to make us whole and good enough. The problem is we aren’t missing anything. There is nothing wrong with any of us. We are already good enough. Imagine how your life might feel if you had always known you were okay.
The other thing we are taught is to look outside of ourselves for validation, fulfilment and love. So, most of us do this. We spend every ounce of energy (and sometimes money) on someone or something that will validate to us that we are good enough. And yet, it never really works that way. We are never validated, fulfilled or loved-truly loved, unconditionally-from anything outside of us. Sometimes it seems like we are, but feeling good about ourselves falls away quickly and we feel inadequate all over again. It’s a cycle of hell.
To break this cycle of expectations, hurt feelings and separation, we have to be willing to see why we believe we are inadequate in the first place.
It’s just training. There is no reason. There is no one to blame here. It is just something to notice so healing can begin. Going forward, we can use such incidents where we attack, blame, take things personally and get hurt feelings as opportunities to correct this incorrect belief. What happens then? Game over. Happiness and connection return. So, the next time someone posts something on Facebook, there is nothing for you to think or feel about it because it’s not about you.