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What are You Compensating For?

July 24, 2009

Turtle and Bunny ArguingIt struck me recently how much energy we spend habitually and unconsciously compensating for one thing or another.  When we get hurt or dominated by someone in one realm of our lives, the pendulum generally swings back in some other area, as we compensate by enforcing our will on another, “weaker” or simply vulnerable person in our lives.  Vulnerability is not always a weakness; it may be due to a level of openness and trust that one leaves themselves open.

  • A young man who was beaten by his dad now compensates by trying to be tougher than other kids in the school yard.  He couldn’t stand up to his father but someone his own size or a bit smaller, he could sure handle.
  • A woman who could never get her way with her domineering mother spends her adult life venting out on her children and husband.  She won’t be controlled anymore.
  • Or the classic example – the boss rides his staff hard at work, and they take it out on their families at home.

It seems that we don’t know what to do with that energy except to pass it on to someone else.  It’s what we learned from those who were stronger willed, emotionally insensitive or simply more powerful positions than we were; and so, the natural, unconscious instinct is to pass it on.

As for myself, recently I have been exploring how much resentment builds up in me whenever I “allow” someone to get their way with me.  I put “allow” in quotes because it does not always seem like a conscious choice – sometimes, it’s as if you just get steamrolled by a situation, be it a strong-minded client that you are eager to please, or a drunk friend that won’t back off a confrontational situation.  I can see how poisonous it is to sit back and take a passive approach, or not to stand your ground.  We have to learn how and when to fight our battles.  It’s easier said than done.  When you do get into a situation where egos clash and someone gets under your skin, you have to learn how to process the event so as not to repress it, build resentment and ultimately compensate by passing that negative energy along to someone else in your life.  Learning “how to process” and effectively sublimate or transform negative emotions into higher states is the purpose of personal development and the topic of many books and philosophical systems.  I am passing on, to the best of my abilities, what I have learned and implemented about “emotional alchemy”, which by the way I just Googled and learned that there is a book titled Emotional Alchemy by Tara Bennett-Goleman [never read it, but looks interested and related to this topic].  It’s not always such an esoteric, complex subject – 20 minutes of basic physical exercise and/or breathing meditations are tried and true tools for elevating our moods after a negative interaction.

So what are you compensating for?  And who in your life is paying the price for it?  What are the roots of your resentment – who hurt you when you were in a more vulnerable state?  Where can you stand up a bit stronger now, but in a way that does not put “your shit” on other people?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 24, 2009 11:56 pm

    nice blog.

  2. July 26, 2009 4:25 pm

    Thanks for the comment and wishes! I hope so too. Transcendence (of whatever limitations I face) is my primary aim in life.

  3. Renu R permalink
    September 13, 2012 12:47 am

    Very true..:) have shared it in my fb status msg too..

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