Do you seem to find yourself saying that quite a bit? Is “always” overstating or exaggerating the situation?
Let’s clarify what is meant by “always” in this context: it doesn’t mean you “only” get hurt by the ones you love – rather, it means that inevitably you end up getting hurt.
And what about the ones that love you? Is the reverse also true? Do they ever make that claim about you?
Chances are that you have been on one side or the other of that transaction, if not both. Contrary to what it seems on the surface, this may actually be a good thing. I know what you’re thinking – WTF! How is it conceivable that being hurt or hurting someone else could possibly be a good thing!?
Well, okay ... let’s look at that. If a stranger makes a negative comment about your new outfit—an outfit that you happen to think makes you look quite alluring—what is your reaction? It’s usually either a) your opinion doesn’t matter to me, or b) go fuck yourself (okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh).
What you are not likely to think is “gee, maybe I need to change my outfit”. More to the point, you probably didn’t think “that really hurts”.
The reasoning is that you don’t get hurt by the opinions of others if you don’t care about those people. And by care, I mean respect, not necessarily having an emotional connection with. In fact, it is inevitable that you will get hurt and hurt others during the course of any relationship. Hence “you only hurt the ones you love”. And they hurt you because you can only hurt and be hurt by those who you respect and those who respect you in return.
Intentional versus unintentional
Hanlon’s razor aptly states: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." In other words, don’t assume that what happened or what was said was intentional when it can more easily be explained by mere stupidity. Let’s face it – people are generally more involved in themselves than in anyone else and most people speak before they think if they even think at all.
Misunderstandings are all too common.
Most (but not all) misunderstandings are unintentional. The trick is to be able to distinguish between the two. It isn’t an easy feat. If it were, there wouldn’t be any more misunderstandings in the world and you wouldn’t be interested in this article.
Also, it might be a case of simple synchronicity. We just can’t all be on the same page at the same time. Therefore, there will come a time in every relationship of length when we are at odds with each other.
On top of that, people tend to take things personally even when they aren’t meant to be. This is an example of you only thinking of yourself. The reality is that others are doing the very same thing – and I don’t mean they’re thinking about you, they are only thinking about themselves.
Being as you most certainly will hurt others and get hurt during your relationships, how you act and react is of the utmost importance. Since we can’t stop the former, we need to deal with the latter. Remember, the only thing you truly have the power to change is yourself. How you respond will dictate what comes next.
Guilty or not guilty
Something to be aware of is that “not guilty by reason of insanity” is false, incorrect logic.
Guilt is determined by the facts; that is, did you actually do or say that thing? Insanity, in this case, is used to show intent. The intent is then considered in order to determine the punishment.
So, what does any of this have to do with hurting or being hurt? If it happens that you are guilty – that is if you did it unintentionally – your punishment shouldn’t be as harsh as if you intended to do it.
People often use the “it wasn’t my intention” defense to prove their innocence. The problem here is that this retraction deflects responsibility away from their actions while at the same time making the hurt party seem petty.
Your reaction to someone who informs you that they were hurt or offended by your actions is not to demean that person. They have a right to their own feelings as much as you do. Feelings are personal. After all, you can’t exactly make the claim “I couldn’t have hurt you because that wasn’t my intention”. This assumes that if you do feel hurt or offended, that is entirely up to you. How I react or respond is entirely up to me.
That right there may be the truest indicator of intention, as well as an arbiter of things to come within the rest of the relationship.
People who don’t take responsibility for their actions most certainly won’t learn from their mistakes. This is the standard by which maturity is measured.
Learning from our Mistakes Challenge
This week’s challenge for you is to review and evaluate some of your own relationships, both past, and present. Have you been hurt? Have others been hurt by you? Did you accept responsibility for your actions, even though they may have been unintentional? When you were hurt, did the other person accept their responsibility or did they use the “get out of responsibility free” card and state “that wasn’t my intention”? If so, how did that make you feel?
Now you know how others feel when you do the same to them. Accept that you both will hurt and be hurt in your relationships. It is more than just normal, it is necessary. It shows that you care, it shows that they care, and if you learn from it you will both be better off.
Good Together: your guide to healthy, happy relationships
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