My work often involves working with the internal “younger” parts of an individual that have been hurt by past events. As a result, I have to make sure that I put my thoughts in the simplest way possible so they can be understood by the part of the person I am dealing with. (No, this is not crazy…if you’re done any inner child work you will understand!)
In explaining why a parent or peer would do or say mean things to another person, I recently found myself saying to the young part of a person, “Happy people say happy things to other people, and unhappy people say unhappy things to them.” As I attempted to explain why they were unfairly criticized or bullied, this explanation jumped out at me as very, very true.
It’s true of bullies…they are unhappy people who feel powerless, so they want to show their power to others by being superior to them in some way. In recent times that can even mean taking away their lives as they shoot up their classmates at school. Often mental illness contributes to an extreme situation such as killings in schools, but mental illness is part of what makes a person unhappy enough and distorted enough in thought and emotion to do such a thing.
In fact, I believe unhappiness is present in people who abuse in any way. Why were bad things said and done to you as a child? The people who did them were unhappy, and they spread unhappiness to you.
It was never about you. Never.
Knock over a glass of milk, and milk comes out. Knock over a glass of anger, and anger comes out. Knock over a glass of love and understanding, and love and understanding comes out.
Of course, we can be difficult to love because of our own attitudes and actions, and we have to acknowledge our contributions to to the way that other people treat us. But if the behavior is chronic, or without provocation, it is primarily because the other person is unhappy. We may not need, or get, a more complete explanation than that in our lifetime. That truth is the most fundamental dynamic, and more detailed explanations can only expound on it.
Finding our happiness is one of our basic tasks in life. It may require professional help is trauma or disability is present, but we must do it nevertheless.
Good luck on your journey!