Originally on 5 Things I Learned – March 2, 2011
Life is a journey of ups and downs. Those that have a good life, learn the value and skill of self-healing early on. In the past two weeks alone, I’ve encountered so many people, from all walks of life and of various ages that share one thing in common – they are broken (and have been for some time).
Broken people are people who have been hurt but have not healed-they are still hurting. There are many different causes of brokenness and reasons for why one did not heal. Sadly, I have come to realize that there are many many more broken people and for so many of them they remain broken for years and maybe even till the day they day. There’s so much more to say about this, but for now I’ll stick to my 5 Things…
1. Broken people break other people.
Broken people are guarded – they are not generous with themselves. Why? Because their life experiences have caused them pain so they guard themselves as best as they can so as not to get hurt again. They are afraid to be vulnerable so they put up a front. The front can be of strength, of candor, of leadership, of arrogance and sometimes even of empathy. The basic commonality is that they keep most if not all people at a distance and they do not let themselves be vulnerable.
In being guarded however, a broken person is always on the defensive…such that if another person rubs him/her in the wrong way the broken person can react very strongly. In worst cases, a broken person is on the offensive – the insecurities that are rooted in his/her brokenness are always at the surface. They are ready to battle others anytime even over the smallest of things. The most broken people even cause brokenness around them. Some are negative, skeptic, unduly critical, not supportive, irritable, etc. these can be seen both in their words and in their actions which affect the people around them.
Broken people do not empower – the worst of them disempowers other people. I would bet through that they do not do this intentionally. Most are unaware of how their words, actions and behavior hurt other people. In many cases, it makes sense to them so they don’t have any reasons to change (this is the same for ourselves and our own brokenness).
2. Acknowledge your own brokenness.
Life’s ups and downs affect us all. No one is spared. So we’ve all been hurt, and most of the time we are also bearing our brokenness (usually hurts from our childhood that never healed).
I’m sure we’ve all been ‘broken’ at some point in our lives and it is highly likely that we will experience it again. The likelihood that we will feel pain and experience brokenness again is high. Given this, understand where the other is coming from. The worst thing we can do for the people around us, is pass on our brokenness to them. So when you find yourself in that situation, take stock of the bigger picture and don’t lash out.
On the flip side, acknowledging our own brokenness should also lead us to #3.
3. Approach the broken with gentleness, sincere concern and genuine love.
If you are currently dealing with someone who is lashing out because he/she is broken…you know how easy it is to just respond in kind – with anger, irritation and harsh words. That however does not make you nor the other person better, instead it contributes to your own and their brokenness. So instead of meeting him/her head on (biting the bait, so to speak), approach him/her with gentleness, sincere concern and genuine love.
As John Maxwell states in the Situation Principle in his How to Win With People book: Strive to remember that a person is separate from the situation he/she creates. Focus on the person. Trust me it isn’t easy… in fact it is one of the most difficult things you are going to do in life. But it does become easier the more you do it.
That being said, if the person really did something terrible he/she should still be held accountable for his/her actions. Just because he/she was hurting doesn’t give him/her the right to hurt others.
4. Be generous with your power to heal.
It requires a great amount of generosity of self to be able to see an individual who is hurting himself and others. It even takes a greater amount of generosity of self to be able to be present and to share your healing power with someone who is hurting.
Being given the opportunity to provide presence, comfort, feedback, wisdom, assistance to another person is a gift! It isn’t easy to show pain and be vulnerable to others. As Coach Pia mentions in her book Born to Be A Hero, you have to watch out for listening moments and teaching moments.
5. Be patient and encourage all the time.
People heal at their own pace. Respect that pace. Rushing a broken person will not help him/her. This is true for yourself as well as the people around you.
More people will discourage and pull others down rather than encourage and lift others up. The second is more powerful!