What you see in people determines how you will respond. Most people allow the attitudes, actions, and feelings of others to determine their response. If you allow your responses to be determined by another, you are robbing yourself of your personal freedom. You automatically prevent yourself from doing what is truly in your heart. If you are not getting what you want in your relationships it may be because you are allowing others to determine how you think, feel, and react. You may believe that you do not have a choice, that others make you respond the way you do because of the way they are. What a confining thought! If you think this way, your only alternative is to attack, withdraw, or concede when there is conflict. Consider that you do have a choice. You can choose how you think, feel, perceive things and, therefore, how you react. In this way you have absolute control of your experience because you choose your experience. You have just set yourself free.
If you are challenged with disharmony, your automatic reaction may be to mirror that disharmony in some way. You may automatically begin to give back what has been given to you. If someone has shut off their love, you may respond by also shutting off your love. If the other initiates with love, you may also respond with love. In both cases you are the respondent. Your reactions have been determined by someone else. Much of your happiness is determined by your willingness to take charge of how you think, feel, and react. What another person thinks, feels, and does is their responsibility. If you do not like what they do, you do not have to respond in kind.
When another acts with anger, blame, withdrawal, abruptness, or some other negative response it is always because they are in conflict within themselves. They are allowing their internal conflict to take expression outwardly. Most of the time it has nothing whatever to do with you. Most often they are responding to a pattern of thought and behavior that they have probably been acting out for a long time. Usually negative patterns of behavior originate in childhood. Some unresolved childhood conflict has unconsciously been carried forward into adult experience. The wounded child within them has taken over and they react automatically. They may not look for or see another way of reacting. They may be responding in the only way they know.
The next time you are challenged with “wounded child” behavior from another, consider that you have a choice. You can choose to respond with your own wounded child behavior, or you can choose to respond to things differently. See the wounded child within the other person. Tell yourself that their negativity has nothing to do with you. Tell yourself that beneath their defenses they are probably afraid and hurt. See their fear and hurt. Though they may not even admit it to themselves, all they really want is your love.
Try this. Do not react. Slow down. See the person as though they were about four years old. See their actions as a frustrated attempt to get what they want or a misguided attempt to get love. See a child so wounded that they have lost faith in other people’s willingness to help them. See them feeling alone and isolated. This is probably exactly how they do feel. Imagine that you can see tears of despair. See the wounded child within them. This new view of others can give you new insight, both into yourself and into others. The door of compassion has been opened within you. You are now free to choose a response that will enhance life and be likely to turn a negative situation into a positive experience.
Seeing the wounded child in others does not necessarily mean that you will want to make yourself fully vulnerable to them. It may be wise to maintain certain limits. However, if you do not take their actions personally and respond with compassion, your response will open the door to better things. Remember that there is such a thing as “tough love.” Tough love is setting limits that may be difficult, but are healthy. It is not intended as a punishment or some kind of revenge. Such a response with love can set things in the right direction. You may respond with quiet words. You may respond by withdrawing for a time. You may respond by allowing the person to vent their feelings. Be careful here not to expose yourself to too much negativity. You may respond with a disciplinary action. You may respond by leaving the relationship. You may respond with a common sense discussion when the time is right. You will respond non-verbally by a touch, a look, or a small act of kindness. No matter what your response, if it is backed with genuine love, compassion, and desire for the highest good, love and good will be reflected back to you.
You may find that an appropriate response for you may be to withdraw for a time so you can center yourself, especially if you have been wounded. It is essential for you to always honor the wounded child within yourself. Those hurt, angry, frustrated feelings should not be repressed. If they are, they will automatically come back to you possibly with poor health or counterproductive actions.
If you have negative feelings from the interchange, take responsibility for those feelings. You may have to temporarily set your feelings aside for a time while you deal with the situation. But later bring the feelings out for yourself to examine. Ask yourself what memories from your childhood might possibly be activated. What conflicting memories have been triggered by this event? Once you see why you feel the way you do, you have more choices. You can choose to deal with those feelings from old memories separately. Don’t bring your past into your present.
Remember, when you act from love and the desire for truth, you are taking responsibility. You may not be used to taking responsibility in this way. But consider that when you act from the automatic trigger response of the wounded child, you are likely to make things worse. When you slow down, think things through, and respond with love and wisdom, you are more likely to create something that you can feel proud of and will not only raise the quality of everyone’s life, but raise your own self-esteem.