Underneath the Words

In the heat of conflict, so much can get lost in translation. When we feel attacked, wronged or misunderstood, it’s so hard to pause, breathe and listen, but if you think back to your angriest moments, underneath the rage there was pain. When people yell it’s because they don’t feel heard, seen or understood. Some part of them is crying out for recognition, for help.

Sometimes we’re like a bunch of talking heads. We get so caught up in the story we forget to see the person; to look into their eyes and maybe put a hand on their arm. Sometimes we all need a tether, a way back to the moment. We need to know we’re being seen and felt, but too often people spend time together and there’s no real connection, just a lot of words, a lot of editorializing. Have you ever walked away from lunch with a friend you love feeling lonely? Maybe you went with a story on your mind and you told your story and you guys talked about it, but your lunch never really gelled because you went with a plan, and didn’t allow for the possibility that maybe your story didn’t need to be told. Maybe you’d already told it too many times. Maybe something beautiful could have happened if you showed up and opened to the moment. Maybe you missed the fact that your friend had an energy about them. Maybe they needed you. Maybe there was a glimmer of mischief or pain or restlessness you missed and cannot have back.

People say things they don’t mean all the time, especially if they haven’t worked on healthy ways to express their feelings. Lots of people push things down until it’s too much and then they explode. Words can be very powerful; I’m not suggesting you don’t want to work on the way you communicate if what you’ve been doing so far isn’t working for you or the people in your life. Learning how to handle your anger in a way that doesn’t burn the place down, and everyone in it including you, is essential if you want to be happy, but no one operates from her highest self in every moment. I know people who write off relationships with family members because someone said something when they were drunk at a wedding eight years ago. Try to see underneath the words. Look for the pain because if you can see that in another person it will soften you and then at least you create the possibility that you can forgive them and release yourself from the burden of carrying all that anger around with you.

Last year a woman wrote in and asked how she could stay on the Facebook fan page, but not see the “inspirational posts” I was writing. She sent an email to me personally to ask. I told her the page was mostly the blog posts, and if she didn’t want to see them, she could just unlike the page. She wrote back and said she wanted to see the “other stuff” but not the posts. I was intrigued by the fact that she wanted to be sure that I knew that she didn’t like what I was writing so I went to her page and saw that she was a writer and a teacher, and I understood something about my posting and the community we have going here was difficult for her to see. I couldn’t say exactly what was going on with her, but there was pain there. So I just responded nicely because it’s terrible to feel frustrated, resentful or unseen, so much so that you want to lash out at a stranger.

A lot of the time we take things personally. It’s hard not to, especially when you feel criticized or rejected. The truth is, most of the time it has nothing to do with you, and once in awhile, someone will just not get you. I would say, always look for the feeling. Words can be misleading, but feelings are fairly clear. You don’t have to respond to someone’s pain with anger. You don’t have to take on their view as if it’s true. You don’t have to defend yourself over every slight. Most people have a lot of pain. Sometimes a hug, literal or figurative, goes a lot further than a thousand words.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here, and my yoga classes and courses here.

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