Hurt people sometimes act like scared animals

November 18, 2018

 When dealing with people who are angry, remember that behind the anger is usually a whole lot of fear and hurt. They may be afraid something will go wrong or that they will look foolish or lose something. However, in most cases, their anger is a mask hiding emotional injury. An injured animal is a vicious animal. Similarly, people who are suffering are likely to exhibit anger as a defense mechanism and may lash out.


Such was the case with a former supervisor of mine. Reminiscent of an injured animal, she was vicious. Her words were cutting and could hurt as deeply as the claws of a frightened, wild animal. She could sense others’ vulnerability and exploit their weakness. In many ways, her behavior resembled a predator.


There is a lesson to be learned from this: Vulnerability attracts predators. When a predator smells blood or sees a wounded animal, they move in for the kill. And, yes, some humans have developed a predatory personality along with accompanying sociopathic behavior.


Don’t let your vulnerabilities show when you are around people who are acting hostile or antisocial. If you want an example, think of your ex! Remember how he or she used to prey on your weakness? You found out too late that sharing your vulnerable side was later used against you in an argument, or worse, in divorce court. Your former partner exploited your tender feelings and personal stories.


I, too, dated someone who preyed upon vulnerability. Whenever I apologized to my former partner, he began criticizing me. I quickly discovered that the more I apologized, the more he verbally attacked me. It was as if he interpreted my apologizing as weakness and moved in for the kill—classic predatory behavior.


No wonder I had nightmares when I dated him. I was constantly on edge during that relationship, and my subconscious manifested those emotions into disturbing dreams. One such nightmare involved me taking a group tour at the top of a skyscraper. I got distracted and fell behind the group. Then, someone snuck up behind me and threw me over the railing.


The lesson I learned from that dream was not to turn my back on someone dangerous. I also learned to stick with the group and not isolate myself. There’s safety in numbers. That’s why predators try to separate their prey from the herd. They want their prey to be vulnerable. That nightmare taught me not to be so naïve.


I witnessed an example of vulnerability one night when I saw an owl dive right onto the road, so fixated on a mouse that it did not see the traffic. The owl was vulnerable because it had tunnel vision (which isn’t to say the owl does not also have positive qualities).


Can you see yourself in this owl? Has there ever been a time in your life when you got so wrapped up in what you were doing that you did not see trouble approaching, like letting bills pile up?


All mammals (including humans) have both strengths and weaknesses. I saw the strength of the hawk on a sunny afternoon. I watched a red-tail dive into the ditch to get prey. The message I gleaned from that experience was to seize the moment and strike opportunities quickly without delay.


Can you see yourself in this hawk? Can you answer the door when opportunity knocks, or do you hesitate until the moment is gone? When was the last time you took a calculated risk and pursued your goal with all your heart? If you had a momentary setback, did you keep on trying until you hit your target?


One night I meditated on the differences between the owl and hawk. The owl has night vision that gives her the ability to zoom in and focus on what she is seeing. Her brain blocked out all other distractions, which can be beneficial under certain circumstances. Unfortunately, the owl can become so narrowly focused that she does not see approaching danger.


On the other hand, the hawk has the gift of broader vision. By soaring high in the sky, the hawk can look far into the horizon, view the whole scene, and anticipate danger. The drawback is that seeing the big picture can cause the hawk to become easily distracted by all the commotion.


Something to meditate on today. It is fine to lower your guard when you are with someone you trust. However, don’t be vulnerable when there is danger near. Watch out for tunnel vision, so you don’t get blindsided by people who are full of rage.


Having compassion for people who are hurting does not mean leaving yourself vulnerable to being mistreated. Not everyone who is suffering is going to lash out like an injured animal. Still, it is wise to practice some self-care and protect yourself. Look around and be aware of your surroundings.


Learn from both the owl and hawk. Be able to focus on the present moment like the owl while watching out for oncoming danger. When showing compassion for others who are suffering, keep a broad view like the hawk without being distracted by all the chaos around you. Remember, people who are hurting can sometimes act like frightened animals.


The Sir Rennity feature is intended to provide gentle guidance for your life. These articles hold no intrinsic meaning. You give meaning to them based on the value you place on them, so the words here are meaningless unless you put them into practice.

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