Who Hurts Us the Most?
In life, we inevitably get hurt. This is because we are humans and humans make mistakes and do silly things. Ironically, more often than not, we get hurt by people we love and feel close to. We value their opinion so much and truly care about what they think and say about us.
From my coaching practice and broad life experience, I know for a fact, that people who hurt us usually are hurting themselves. Their internal hurt is more an unconscious process than conscious. It might not be obvious, but their pain runs deep inside. It is possible their on-going pain, or dissatisfaction with life makes them feel miserable, unfairly treated, or angry at the world and everyone in their lives, including you. Does it make them bad people? Not necessarily. They just think and feel so bad about themselves and their lives, so ALL that they ruminate on is bad thoughts and the words coming out of them are also bad and toxic. In turn, their behavior can be bad and hurtful.
Did you notice how often I used the word “bad” in the previous sentence? I did it deliberately to remind you of the ripple effect coming from the negative internal state that we sometimes cannot manage and it leaks out of us into every area and relationship of our life.
What can we do if we have people like this around us? How can we change them?
Here is a question that requires a more honest answer. What can we do if “we” become that toxic person because we can no longer manage our internal pain? Or if we can no more suppress our resentment and disappointment with another person or with life circumstances?
What can we do when we become that person with “bad thoughts, feelings, words and behaviors” and keep hurting ourselves and others around us?
How Can I Change Another Person?
Often I have clients who come to me with probably the most frequent question: “How can I change him or her?” My straight forward answer is, “You cannot change another person.” What you CAN do is to show them two things:
Number one: How to live the life you would want them to live, by example.
Number two: If you what to change them because you feel hurt or violated by that person, you can teach them how to treat you, by not accepting this treatment anymore.
I know, it sounds much easier than it actually is in real life, especially as we get so conditioned to tolerate and accept things. Often, we believe the reason we are being treated the way we are is our fault or because of our own feelings of worthlessness.
We are scared to speak up and say how we feel because we are afraid to hurt or upset others. In the end, we get hurt ourselves.
Part of your journey to happiness is cultivating self-love. One of the ways to cultivate and show love to yourself is to recognize your patterns of self-blame and to set the boundaries with people who treat us in a way that makes us feel small. As hard as it seems, we must speak our truth, and as hard as it might seem, we should stop tolerating negative and disrespectful treatment from others. If we do not honor ourselves by setting such boundaries, we risk building up resentment and withdraw from the relationship altogether.
Setting Boundaries is Your Responsibility
People might react with a negative or dismissive reaction, but it is not your responsibility. Your responsibility to be brave and communicate your needs with love and respect without pretending that everything is all right.
When we keep resentment inside and let negative thoughts boil inside of us for days, weeks or even years, that’s when we hurt ourselves greatly. Those judgmental and harmful thoughts can lead to physical weakness and illnesses, to mental distortions and to relationships breakups. The relationships that could have been saved if you spoke up sooner than later; if you were courageous enough to show your vulnerability and commitment to work and grow your relationships, even if it required you to have painfully-honest conversations.
If you want others to stop hurting you, end hurting yourself. The act of setting boundaries is your responsibility.
Show yourself self-love and self-respect by being brave, reliable and honest with yourself and others.