An incidence in my own home yesterday got me thinking. My attitude to loved ones hurting me has always been to simply keep love in the middle and let it go. This is what all our spiritual texts teach us. I try and practise this most times, but I am not a saint and do falter at times. This morning’s self-reflection led me to the following conclusion.
Sometimes people will say and do hurtful things either intentionally or unintentionally. If they are strangers there is wisdom in letting it go and refraining from giving it permission to affect us. However, when it comes to family and friends it is utterly unwise to do the same.
There are three ways we can react:
Anger and rebuke – Human beings react to threat by becoming defensive and this will most certainly ensue in a conflict. If we lash back and walk away from the situation we are told we are over-sensitive, which makes us feel more attacked. This approach ends up in both parties being distressed.
Hold your tongue – Allowing our loved ones to treat us in a way we perceive painful will not just empower them, but will hinder their personal growth too. A conflict might be avoided by this method, but the poison of resentment starts to grow which will inevitably result in bitterness.
Gently Inform – When a loved one says hurtful things the best course of action is to consider gently letting them know that their words and actions have hurt us.
Although I have always believed that, I define who I am, and not the words or actions of someone else, I realise today the strength is not just in keeping quiet and walking away, but also in gently making them realise how their words have affected me. In this way I get stronger and also give them permission to be part of my journey to define and respect who I am!