Can you remember most of the times someone hurt your feelings?
Many of us connect an incident to a person, regardless of the severity of the offense. And we never forget it.
I dated a girl once who told me she kept a journal of all the people who’d upset her or hurt her feelings.
Whew. Wonder if my name ever wound up in her book?
Now, I’m not saying people can’t forgive. If we are in our right minds and our heart is in the right place, it can be fairly simple to see the other person’s perspective and forgive them.
But still, we don’t forget often. I think it’s because we have an innate need to protect ourselves.
I had a conversation once with a longtime colleague. For some reason, it was one of those times we were talking freely about things and incidents that had happened in the past.
As the conversation proceeded, we both found many things in the past that had caused one or both of us pain or concern had actually been misunderstandings.
The heartache we’d experienced had really been unnecessary.
Remember that great old horror flick “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” One of the closing lines of the movie is “You mean we could have been friends all this time?’
I wonder how many of us have felt this way? We’ve looked back at an incident and forgotten what all the hubbub was. Or someone has explained themselves or apologized? Then we’ve wondered why we couldn’t have just gotten along all this time?
I’m sure it’s a common thing.
Many of us live in fear of some sort of betrayal. We’ve either experienced it ourselves, having someone betray us or actually betraying someone. And so, we expect everyone to behave this way, we do not trust others and we are paranoid that someone out there is going to get us, betray us, hurt us, etc.
So, we stick close to home. We interact with a small number of folks and aren’t open to new relationships. We try not to get too close to other people and have trouble maintaining relationships.
All due to fear.
The thing is, it’s going to happen whether we protect ourselves or not. People are going to hurt us or betray us, and we might as well resign ourselves to that fact.
I’ve asked myself the question “would they really do that intentionally?” many times. The answer is usually “no.” I mean, would your friends and family who care about you intentionally set out to hurt you? Hopefully, you can answer the questions deep down in your heart.
Still, there are people who have a mean streak. When they themselves are hurt or offended, they strike back with a venomous ferocity, and yes, they meant it.
I’m afraid I am one of those people. I tend to react and strike, often before I look at the situation. Usually, I end up tucking my tail and apologizing, even if I didn’t mean any harm.
So, I think when it comes to trusting people and worrying about being hurt and betrayed, we have to look at how we ourselves respond.
Do we hurt people? Do we betray people?
When we get our own hearts in check, it’s easier to respond to others in the correct way.