We all have had experiences where someone else has done something that hurt us. Whether it was a careless word, an unfair accusation, a physical blow, and many other possibilities. At times a person has the intention to hurt another person, but often a person feels hurt when the other person has no desire to cause pain. Why do we feel hurt by other people when they don’t even mean to hurt us?
I had an experience years ago where a co-worker of mine was causing problems in my life. I won’t go into the details, because the details could have been any number of scenarios. Try plugging in your scenario as I describe this. Because of what this co-worker was doing, I found myself saying, “This guy is really being a jerk!” I felt that was happening was unfair, unjust, and I was definitely being wronged. This made me angry, I was ticked off. I tried talking to our boss to put an end to it, but my boss continued to let this guy do what he was doing. It made my gut boil. As I considered what to do about this, I found myself praying for some help. I didn’t like feeling the way I felt. I wanted to be happy, and what this guy was doing was making me very unhappy. We were going to be co-workers for a while, and I didn’t want to continue being miserable the whole time we both worked there. As I prayed about this, the impression came that I should apologize to him. That idea surprised me, and I quickly brushed it off because I could think of nothing to apologize for, the other guy was being a jerk and I couldn’t think of anything wrong I should apologize for. A few more days went by, things were still pretty miserable, and I again found myself praying for some divine intervention. Again the impression came that I should apologize to him. I was baffled, but since it was the same impression, I decided to consider it for a minute. I asked, “What do I need to apologize for… he’s the one being a jerk!” As I considered this question, another impression came, and rarely have I had such clear impressions,
“You have been angry with him, your anger is wrong. You need to apologize.”
My thoughts were, “Really? My anger is wrong? He’s the one being a jerk.” But as I considered the possibility of apologizing to him, I felt a slight easing of the tension I had been feeling. So, I decided that I had nothing to loose and I might as well give it a try, but this was not going to be easy. A few days went by, and I finally took to opportunity to talk with him one-on-one, and I simply said to him, “I have been angry with you, my anger is wrong, I’m sorry.” He was very surprised, stammered something about how it was no big deal, and he quickly walked away. I wasn’t expecting him to apologize in return, I really had no idea what to expect from him, but his response was typical of him. But as he walked away I felt like I was walking on air, I felt so good! I felt light, I felt completely free of the anger, stress, and negative emotions that had been plaguing me. I was amazed that I felt so good. And I continued to feel good – my co-worker didn’t change that hurtful things he was doing, but it didn’t hurt any more. I was no longer his victim, and I was unattached to what he did.
It took me years to figure out why I felt so good when I apologized for my anger. I finally realized that it was my anger that had been causing me pain. I thought it was what he was doing that was hurting me, but it was my anger at what he was doing that was hurting me. As soon as I stopped be angry about his actions, his actions could no longer hurt me. He could not victimize me without me cooperating and reacting in a way that brought me pain.
So if you have a relationship that is bringing you pain, it may be completely normal to want to blame the other person. And they may be doing something very inappropriate. But look into the possibility that the thing that is hurting you the most is your own response to them. You can’t change other people, but you can change your response to what they are doing. Peace of mind is always a possibility, no matter what is happening around you.
Feel free to share your insights below.