Bob Marley famously said ….“Everybody is going to hurt you. You just gotta find the ones worth suffering for”.
I mostly agree with him. However the notion that people are going to hurt you feels a bit harsh. Sure, sometimes people deliberately hurt you but far more often the hurt happens by accident. I’d prefer to say, you are going to get hurt by everyone, so you need to decide which ones are worth suffering for.
Hurt and offence is often taken when it is not given. It’s important (but really difficult) to hold this in mind, especially in our most important relationships. When we say, “You hurt me!” we are casting blame on other person, and implying that they take responsibility for your emotional state. The problem with blame is that it often leads to outcomes we didn’t intend and don’t want. The other person might think, “I’m not a nasty person”, so to defend themselves as being a decent person, they might cast a blaming statement back, like “You need to stop being so sensitive”…and suddenly there’s a fight happening.
A rephrase, like “I was hurt by what you said” can change everything. It is free of blame, it is taking responsibility for your own emotions and its an invitation for something healing, like an apology, rather than inviting an attack back.
Think of the times you hear of men using the excuse “She made me so mad I lost control”, as if it is his partner’s job is to ensure he feels good all the time. This is a ridiculous suggestion for many reasons but foremost is that you can never know what form hurt will come in.
No one is immune to this. An innocuous comment from my partner about her plans for the day triggered a sense of failure in me that led me to labelling her as demanding. When I reflected on how we wound up arguing I realised the problem was all me – I was feeling sensitive and read things into her comment that were not on her mind or in her intentions at all. I sorted this out with her by saying, “when you said X it bought up Y for me and I reacted badly, and I’m sorry that my reaction led to us fighting.”
Hurt happens – when we learn to see it for what it is, take responsibility for being and causing hurt, and use new strategies to prevent it to from taking us over, that we can sail through life in peace.