The degree to which we have not allowed ourselves to experience the reality of our true Self is represented by our resentment toward those who have actually done so.
Much like in a previous article, I provide here a warning that sets your expectations so you don’t start to believe you are doing something wrong or that you are not actually becoming healthier when you really are. Here I describe a phenomenon where certain people in your life, not everyone (hopefully), may actually resent the fact that you’re feeling better.
A classic example of this became very clear recently when I worked with a client who had trouble in his relationship. He worked very hard on himself, being motivated by the possibility of a break-up with his partner. Thanks to his hard work, he became ever more healthy and happy in his life. Then, one day he reported that his partner was angry with him and with me. He said that she was still feeling bad and how dare he feel better! Furthermore, how could I, his therapist, believe that he had made so many changes so quickly? (Again, my client had worked really hard and that was the reason for the quick results.)
This client’s partner did not believe he had changed, did not understand how he could be so happy with himself after what had happened in their relationship (which will remain undisclosed here), and actually resented the fact that he had accomplished all this, and so quickly! Evidently, she had not yet experienced the same level of happiness and contentment in her life that my client reported feeling. Therefore, she had no basis upon which to understand what had happened with my client. She just didn’t get it.
Now, can we blame the partner for this? Of course not! It’s a perfectly understandable reaction. Over time, my client has shifted to a different state of understanding, of himself, the world, his relationship, and so on, than he was in before. Plus, the partner had not experienced this state for herself, so it seemed foreign and, for the most part, unbelievable.
The solution? Luckily, my client’s partner was open to being referred to an individual therapist to begin working toward her own version of “a different state of understanding.” In time, the partner will have a much better understanding of where my client is and how this is possible. Then, these two people’s perspective will match well enough so they can understand each other and get along better, both in a much happier place.
This resentful reaction has also come up for a person I know who has had what I’d call a “spiritual awakening.” This person experiences an almost constant state of happiness, seems to no longer have any problems, and automatically sees the “upside” of virtually all their life experiences. As you read the previous sentence, you might have said to yourself, “How could that be possible?” or “That person is deluded!” or something like that. Well, when this person attempts to describe their current state of mind, they get these kinds of responses from others who have not “awakened” in the same way.
The others tend to view this person as “grandiose” or “holier than thou” or the like. They seem resentful that this person either has these experiences or lies about them to make themselves look good. This person reports a fair amount of push-back and has stopped sharing their experiences with all but the most trusted others.
Again, can we blame the others in this person’s life for their reaction? Again, of course not! How would they begin to understand this person’s experiences from their state of understanding? The solution? Luckily, this person has been able to find enough like-minded others, either in person, on Facebook, or through books or online videos, to begin establishing a virtual community for themselves.
So, the basic message here: When you begin to change your state of understanding (of yourself, the world, others, etc.), you may also unintentionally begin distancing yourself from the state of understanding of those around you. Should this happen, please don’t become discouraged. It’s a sign that you’re getting better. It may also be a sign that those others may not be the right people to hang out with at this stage in your life (yikes!). It may be time to begin associating with others who better accept your state of understanding and to practice patience and acceptance with others who don’t (yet).
Copyright 2015 Daniel J. Metevier