Why Do We Abuse Others?
On January 15th, a brave 17-year-old girl escaped the horrific conditions of her abusive home and rescued her 12 other siblings (aged from 2 – 29). This young girl and her siblings had been chained to furniture, malnourished, and shut out from the outside world for years. The incident was so appalling, it’s been nicknamed the “House of Horrors”. This incident coupled with so many others that we have witnessed in the recent past, begs the questions- what drives perpetrators to commit these depraved crimes and, how do these holes develop in certain people’s souls?
Whether we use substances, relationships, self-glamorizing means, or engaging in abuse of others to cover our suffering, we will fail.
None of these compensations can ever really fill up the inner deficit of love for self or others within the soul. It is this deficit that creates our suffering.
On the “suffering menu,” I see two kinds of suffering:
1. Natural, unavoidable suffering.
Birth, aging, illness, and loss of loved ones are some of the natural and unavoidable causes of suffering. These are offered to us, along with the joy of birth, the wisdom of aging, the lessons of illness, and the love for others – a mixed bowl of sweet cherries and bitter almonds. Resisting any of these will not prevent us from being born, aging, falling sick, losing, or dying. Resistance only intensifies our experience of suffering. Still, we resist. Can you see the face of fear behind the resistance? Acceptance, spiritual and emotional openness, and communication are naturally the better choice. They can help to gently guide us through the necessary storms of loss and change.
2. Self-inflicted, self-maintained suffering.
The other kind of suffering, the self-inflicted one, is unnecessary, insidious, and deeply painful. When we keep daggering our own chests mechanically and relentlessly with destructive self-criticism, judgment, rejection, and shame – the torture, although hidden, is constant. When we exile our emotional self to live on a small, lonely island, or in a cellar for the guilty and the unworthy, we slowly wither and grow bitter.
If we don’t confront our suffering, we end up destroying ourselves and others. Our suffering should be our inspiration to become more loving people.