Little Acts Of Violence
We’re all aware of big acts of violence. Physical abuse. Murder. Rape. Theft. Bullying. But what about little acts of violence? Have you ever stopped to think about what little acts you are committing each day?
Have you criticized someone today, either out loud or internally? Have you purposefully ignored someone today? Have you neglected someone today? Have you participated in a conversation where you have torn someone down? Have you had thoughts of bitterness towards someone?
While it may seem like the above-noted examples are silly, inconsequential acts, they are not. They are little acts of violence. When you stand in criticism of another, you are attacking them on a mental level. This is not a far cry from attacking someone on a physical level. The person you are criticizing may not even be present, but it doesn’t make it any less violent.
And here’s the kicker. These little acts of violence are just as harmful to you (perhaps even more) than they are to the other. Every time you enter into an attack thought, you need to make assumptions about that person. Assumptions are very dangerous because they’re typically empty and untrue. It then allows you to form an opinion (and subsequent thought patterns) around that person and ultimately places you in a righteous position next to that person. After all, this is why we truly criticize, is it not? It makes us feel better. It is meant to reaffirm that we are okay. I am the better person here. There is nothing wrong with me, it’s all her. He’s an idiot and I know better. I would never do or say something that stupid.
When I put myself in the position of ‘character assassin” I open myself up to all kinds of paranoia and injustices. I wonder, “well, if I’m having these critical thoughts about this person, than what are they thinking of me?” Because, of course, it is human nature to expect to get back what we give out. And we’re on to something. It’s called Karma. Karma is nothing more than cause and effect. I do something and it leaves a mark. There is an effect. What people fail to realize about criticism is that criticizing others has a backfiring effect. They think that it will place them in the position of the better person, when in fact, it places then in the position of the the very thing they are criticizing.
Think about it this way. Every time I create the time and the space to hold court on someone and ultimately criticize them, I need to hold certain thoughts and emotions in my mind and body. Take a minute to think of someone who really bothers. Really get into it. Hunker down and begin to go over all of the ways in which you believe they are either a) misguided, b) stupid, c) unbearable, d) annoying, e) unfriendly…you get the picture. What happens to your mind? Your mind begins to form thoughts of judgment, criticism, righteous indignation, superiority (which ironically ultimately leads to thoughts of inferiority), distaste, dislike, hatred, and so on. In order for your mind to process those thoughts, they will require an accompanying emotion. Emotions are thoughts personified in the body. Emotion is literally thought in motion. Now your body needs to participate in this little lynch mob. Your shoulders probably feel bunched and tight. You develop a crease between your eyes. Your mouth hardens into a thin, unmoving line. Your tummy is clenched, along with your fists. Your heart may even start beating a little faster.
Now you’re really cooking with gas!
All of this effort you are putting into the teardown of another is actually having that very effect on yourself. You are now literally tearing yourself down. And you are also adding to the already prolific violence that exists in this world. If every single person began let go of their little acts of violence, there would be less violence in this world. Period. It starts with the individual who is simply feeling a little righteous. A little arrogant. A little superior. And it takes that one individual to lay down their arms and decide to no longer hold court on other people. And of course the consequences of this is that you no longer fuel or add to the existing violence of this world.
So, how do you stop? For most people, these little acts of violence are addictive. It’s what they talk with their spouse about. It’s how they chat with their coworkers, friends, family. It’s the running inner dialogue of their mind. Stopping requires that you become aware of your own self-perceived flaws. After all, criticisms of another are almost always some kind of projection of your own self. So take a minute and figure out what is going on with you in relation to the person you are criticizing. Do you feel rejected by them and have a hard time facing that pain, so instead you judge them as selfish, thoughtless, undependable? Do you feel inferior to that person, so instead you criticize them?
Next, make a decision that if this person really doesn’t sit well with you, rather than continue to hold court on them, you’ve got two choices. You can either, a) talk to them about what is bothering you (and likely demystify all of the assumptions you’ve come to make), or b) let them go.
It is funny that we continue to hold people in our lives that we claim to have big problems with. If we truly had a big problem with someone, we would let them go. An old boyfriend of mine betrayed me in a horrible way. I didn’t continue to be with him and then mindfully assassinate him whenever I got the chance. That would have been too painful for us both (but especially me) and then I would have been the bigger betrayer of myself. Instead, I left. I left and I never looked back. I hold no thoughts of resentment and, if nothing else, always wish him well.
Do not participate in a world that is already wrought with violence. Decide today that you will not do this anymore. It starts with letting go of the little acts of violence. This will have a ripple effect upon this world. Most importantly, it will improve your own life in untold ways. It will set you free. The truth has a funny way of doing that.
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