Hurt People, Hurt People

Hurt people, hurt people. Healed people heal people. Within these eight words lies tremendous perspective.

By Pang Zijun, Facilitator/Implementation Consultant, Arbinger Singapore/Malaysia | December 22, 2020

I was walking down the street from lower Delta Rd. to Tiong Bahru Plaza in the evening, on Friday, March 13th 2020. Coincidence?! Because it sure felt like hell!

I was worried sick about my family in China, devastated by the friend I lost contact with, annoyed with the potential of a lockdown, and feared losing my job. I felt the people who are supposed to be close to me were out of reach, while people around me were distant. No one cared to ask how I was doing, or if I was safe. I was ignored and I hated that. I hated to be mistreated by the people I care about.

Soon I lost sleep, then appetite, then weight.

It took me some time to figure out that I was hurting, to say the least. One minute I was Okay, discussing with my colleague in the US about mental health, the next minute I threw my own mental health out of the window – where is the way out?!

Without realizing it, I began to hurt people.

Seeing people not wearing a mask, I called them dodos; or the people that smoked, I report them to the management; the security guard not letting me walk the dog, I ignored him; and I turned the notifications off for all my social media apps…

If people call this kind of reaction a self-protection mechanism which is informed by our subconscious, rest assured our conscious mind just wouldn’t leave us alone.

Just like every single one of us can be selfish and selfless at the same time, while I felt completely justified in hurting people because I was hurt, another part of me was also screaming “others might be hurting you because they are hurt by you!”

This awareness is both reassuring and devastating.

If you have heard people say, “hurt people, hurt people”, let me tell you that this is not the entire truth. The realization of this vicious cycle will not magically solve the problem – this is only the start of an even more complicated problem: how do we stop it?

This is what I have realized: healed people, heal people.

Healed people are powerful, period.

They are not the just “happy people” nor “positive people”; they all went through their own pain and have gained the strength to be vulnerable. Those people and their stories became my diary of a sleepless night, and my antidote.

I began to recall and write down the stories I heard, from the Grab driver who had a disastrous accident and ended up in a coma for 2 years, the confident business leader with tears in her eyes when talking about her controlling and abusive parents, the security guard on the night shift, who also secretly feeds the homeless cats in the neighbourhood, the guy who works at the carwash, who asked me to tutor him English in order to go back to school, and the instructor who lost his cool in class, worrying about his wife’s medical bill…

Soon I began to think of myself as a broken Bluetooth device – I was looking for connections and wanted to be connected but was broken inside. So, to be able to connect again, I need to fix myself first, because there is no other Bluetooth device that can do the magic if the problem is within me.

It also means, I cannot just wait for other healed people to heal me, I need to be a healed person myself to help others heal.

That’s it. That’s my breakthrough – instead of going out and looking for connection, love, care and friends, the only control I have is to be out and provide connection, love, care and to be a friend.

Instead of reacting, I began to appreciate the art of “doing nothing”.

Instead of getting comfortable with answering questions, I began to be more proactive and started asking questions.

I didn’t, and still don’t always get it right, but I tried, and am genuinely trying. All that I am doing doesn’t make me a saint at all, it is simply because there are people I truly care about, and I want to be better for them. With that level of “selfishness”, I am able to sense other “Bluetooth devices” again.

Hurt people, hurt people. Healed people heal people.

Within these eight words lies tremendous perspective.