Hundreds of thousands of people are posting the words ‘me too’ on social media to say they have been sexually harassed or violated. I have my own examples, my own times of shock, fear, embarrassment, pain and intrusion.

Yet the coaching I practice is based on an understanding that our entire experience of life is from thought in the moment, that we create our own reality, that feelings of anger, fear, shame and hurt are caused by our thinking and not from anything in the outside world.

How can this be true? What on earth are we saying here? That these events didn’t happen? That somehow we create our own hurt and pain?

Let’s look at what we know to be true from two perspectives: those that experience mistreatment and those that mistreat.

For those who have experienced mistreatment

Human beings can do terrible things

Human beings can do terrible things. The evidence is there throughout history and every day. It is there in every ‘me too’ post, in every heart breaking story. Human beings can do terrible things. Verbal and physical attacks and assaults are real.

There is no direct link between what someone does or says and the experience of the person to whom they are doing or saying it.

This might seem ridiculous. It is the opposite of what appears to be the case but it is true. Someone can say or do something and what I experience in that moment comes from what I am thinking and believing in that moment. It cannot come from what the other is saying or doing. If it did we would all experience exactly the same thing and we don’t.

My feelings – shame, guilt, fear, dread, despair, helplessness come from my thinking, nothing else. These feelings are real, they are real chemical reactions in my actual body but the thinking that creates them is transient energy that gives the illusion of causation outside of me. I cannot change this thinking. For these moments this is my reality.

What we are thinking in the moment creates our behaviour

This living in the experience of personal thought in the moment is why we see such dramatically different responses to what looks on the surface to be the same situation. Paralysis, endurance, submission, avoidance, suicide, protest, confrontation, fighting back, rallying, campaigning, forgiveness, acceptance…: all behaviours are possible. This infinite range is all the evidence we need of the immense creative power of personal thought.

Viktor Frankl documented this as he observed the very different experiences and behaviours of the prisoners of the same concentration camp in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning. It is always thought in the moment.

Looking to the outside for guidance will only take us in the wrong direction

There are entire cultures that enable, even encourage, systemic abuse. There are laws in place in countries all over the world that protect the right of husbands to rape, assault and abuse their wives. The endemic accepted harassment in Hollywood, other industries, in cities such as Rochdale in the UK, in hospitals, companies, charities… mean that anyone taking their guidance from what they see around them of what is encouraged, what is necessary and what has to be endured is looking into hell and writing a guidebook.

That’s how it is here. This is what’s normal. This is what it takes to keep your job. Other people are putting up with it. I deserve it. If I shut up and take it, it will stop. This is the law, it must be right. This is up-bringing and culture turned into personal thinking and while we believe it, it looks real.

But all of it loses its power when we see that this stream of thought running through our head is of no value when it comes to living the life we are here to live.

The only place of true guidance is within

When we look within we come into the truth of who we are. Everything else falls away.

The cues we were taking from our childhood, our peers, the culture, the CEO, the law about who and how we should be disappear.

The thinking that was keeping us trapped in terror, shame, despair is seen for the transient nothingness it really is.

As all of this falls away, we realise that we are not the thoughts. We are the awareness that observes the thoughts but is entirely unaffected by them.

We see that it is only our personal thinking that is keeping us from the state of pure love, pure potential that we really are.

We see that damage to the essence of this self is impossible. Even death cannot destroy it. We see that the true bliss on earth is the connection to and the honouring of life itself and life continues.

We see that every behaviour comes from personal thinking in the moment over which an individual has no control. We know this because we see it over and over again in ourselves. We realise that every single moment that we lose sight of who we are we mistreat others or we mistreat ourself.

If you’ve followed me so far, read on…

For those that mistreat (ie all of us)

Human beings can do terrible things

We all do terrible things to each other all the time. Some of us commit genocide or murder or rape. Some of us hit, punch, kick, wound. Some of us shout, isolate, ignore, criticise, threaten, demean, bully. Physical and verbal assault is real.

There is no direct link between what I do or say and the experience of the person to whom I am doing or saying it.

There is no direct link between any of the terrible things we do as human beings and the experience that other people have of those terrible things. Experience of damage is only ever in our personal thinking, even death is personal thought. I can wound and mutilate but there is nothing I can do that will ever damage another. The body is not who they are.

The more clearly I see this, the less likely I am to do anything other than act out of pure love. Because to see clearly that my personal actions can never alter the pure love and potential of another, means that in that moment I clearly see the truth of who I am.

What we are thinking in the moment creates our behaviour

My behaviour reflects the extent to how lost I am in my personal transient thinking or how in love I am with the truth of life, with reality, with the other, with myself. The more lost I am, the more I mistreat others because I literally see no alternative.

The more in love I am the more impossible it becomes for me to do anything that denies my connection. Because this world that I see out there is simply me reflected, a reflection that appears separate. Anything I do that denies this is a denial of myself.

My disconnect gives rise to terrible behaviour, but it is me that suffers in this, not the other. The other person has their own opportunity to distinguish personal thinking from truth, to see that nothing I do can ever hurt them.

Looking to the outside for guidance will only take us in the wrong direction

When I look around me as a child to find out how to behave in this world in which I have arrived, this is what I see: lost people looking to the outside to find their way. They are believing their personal thinking that tells them that to be secure or lovable or worthy, they must create difference between self and other, that they must destroy or humiliate or be richer, more beautiful, more dominant.

They cannot see that the other is only always the self. Believing yourself better or more entitled than another is no privilege, it is hell on earth.

And I follow them blindly into this hell, forgetting everything I knew, until someone points the way back home.

The only place we can look for what is ‘right’ is within

The single only purpose of my life is to rediscover the truth of who I am, to shift my gaze from the tempting, transient apparently necessary, insubstantial outer, to the permanent, constant, loving inner.

From this inner space, I know I am life itself. There is nothing outside that does not come from me. I am every abuser, every dictator, every peacemaker, every guru.

From this place my behaviour can only be guided by permanent, constant love. (Others might still perceive my behaviour as harmful to them and they have their own life time to see the illusion of that more clearly.)

From this inner space, I see all my behaviour with compassion. I know that when I act in discordance with who I am, it comes from a belief in a disconnect. I know the personal torture of that disconnect. I would not wish it on a single soul.

From this inner space I see, with utmost compassion, the ‘me too’ that all of us experience from another, all the time.

I see with utmost understanding, the ‘me too’ that all of us inflict on another, all the time.

I see no damage.

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