May 31

It’s Not in the Details

May 31, 2017

Personal Growth

Melanie texted me, and I responded. My response was entirely benign, but she misunderstood it and responded by sharing it with all the victimy and frightened people she could find. After several days of obsessing about it, she finally arranged to talk to me.

As she began to speak, it was obvious that she wanted to analyze every word of her message, along with every word and punctuation mark of my response. I interrupted and said, “Melanie, none of these details matter.”

“But—” she began, clearly intending to go through all the details anyway . . . again.

“You responded to my two-line text by calling everyone you knew, complaining, whining, acting like a victim, and obsessing about what you thought I’d said. After all the time I’ve known you, and after all the occasions where you have felt loved by me, is there anything I could have said in those two lines alone that would have warranted such a dramatic response on your part?

“Well . . .”

“No, not really. So your response was an over-reaction. There’s nothing else it could have been, and it could only have been a reaction to past pain.”

“Like what?”

“Oh my, it would be tempting to go down that road. But first, you’ll never find the exact old wounds that cause any present reaction. It’s all far too complicated, and you wouldn’t even remember most of the worst wounds, because they happened too early. And second, if you could locate the exact old wounds you’re reacting to, it wouldn’t really matter, because the solution for all pain is the same.”

“Love?”

“Love.”

“So the details really don’t matter?”

“Nope. When you find yourself unusually anxious about a relatively small event—or just hypervigilant about such a thing that MIGHT happen—you can know that you’re being affected only by old pain. Old stuff. That’s as much as you need to know because old stuff is healed only by love—no matter what the details are. Kind of makes things simpler, doesn’t it?”

On occasion, we all get upset to an extent that far outweighs the severity of the relatively small things that we tend to identify as the cause. This causes a frequent and profound confusion that further injures us. If we can learn to stop focusing on the meaningless details and instead find the love that will heal our wounds—regardless of their specific origin—we can escape the stress and confusion of reacting to past and unknowable wounds and pain.

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