Have you ever been in a situation where someone, of the opposite or same-sex, be it a friend, a relative or someone who you’re involved with, who you care deeply about, does something which completely goes against your standards of how you want to be treated? Or YOU hurt someone because of something mindless you said or did or a mindless reaction you had to them thereby failing to meet their standards?
Two wrongs don’t make a right is what my friend B always tells me and it’s so true. Sometimes when someone hurts us we lash out because we almost want to impregnate their entire psyche with the pain that we feel, the pain which they placed on us intentionally or unintentionally, be it through their words, actions or lack thereof just to make sure that they know how WE feel. After all that is what our defensive ego enables us to do. And since we’re creatures of habit, unless someone lets us know, how would we become aware that we’re doing something negative and break the cycle we’ve been participating in for so long???? Oh yes, it does require us to be able to see ourselves outside of ourselves, which is very difficult if we’re consumed in our own pain, darkness or undisclosed and un-felt feelings.
The difficulty always lies in the involvement of the heart and the fear of loss. If we love someone, we want them in our life and therefore we want to forgive whatever it is that they did since we don’t want to lose them. But when someone does something which makes us feel disrespected, hurts us or breaks our trust, there has to be a time-out and a reassessment of the situation. For one, many ‘little’ things can add up to create a big problem in the future, for they create a precedent for what is acceptable if left as not addressed or ignored at the time of their occurrence. The second part of it is that these ‘little’ things can plant seeds of doubt which cause cracks in the foundation of the relationship thereby making its future collapse almost inevitable. The most important part though is in situations where we are faced with something that our gut or instinct tells us is wrong, we have to take a stance, uphold our standards and stand up for ourselves. A perfect, and unfortunately a very common example would be infidelity – if you forgive it because you love your partner, you are sending them a message that it’s okay and that they can (AND IN 99% OF CASES, THEY WILL) do it again. (Of course, some people cheat because they cheat but often the roots lie in the relationship itself, for we are the ones who ‘create the monster’ so to speak. Therefore in cases of infidelity, both people have to go away and take responsibility for the cracks in the foundation of the relationship which led to its collapse.)
Other side of the coin lies in our own reactions, replies and choices of words and actions, whether it’s in reply to something someone’s done or a mistake we made. In being real, we have to be mindful of and take responsibility for what we do just as much as the other person who is involved. And sometimes we don’t fully understand the impact of our replies, actions or words, until the storm has passed and we can now look at the field and view the damage we’ve contributed to.
Many times, our emotions take over when we’re dealing with a conflict and it affects how we handle and deal with the situation. Unfortunately, that is what gets us in trouble. Sometimes we get lost in our own emotional turmoil that we’re not able to fully and completely listen to the other person nor accept their truth. But if we do, it doesn’t mean that we are agreeing with whatever they did wrong (if they were the ones who did something wrong) or that we are lowering our standards and sending them a message that it’s okay, but we’re creating a situation where healthy adult communication can take place.By the same token, if we are the ones who did something wrong then we also need to be able to hear the other person’s truth and accept how what we did or said made them feel and the impact that it made on them and the relationship.
I do want to point out that this is not a tit-for-tat type of situation that I’m describing or endorsing at all. It’s about being mindful in how we deal. I’ll be honest and speak from my own experience – I have learned not to reply to or participate in a conversation when upset and emotional for it leads to things being brought up which are not only hurtful to the other person but also stray from the situation which lead to that conversation in the first place. (For example, sometimes we bring up things from the past, which may or may not have anything to do with the other person. The person who is bringing up old stuff may just be looking at it as examples of situations which brought up the same feelings but to the person on the receiving end, it can in fact be hurtful because they may feel as if we’re comparing new raisins and old coconuts – the magnitude of the situations being completely different. The end result is usually a ‘blowing up’ of sorts where the ‘conversation’ becomes so involved that it’s emotionally draining for both people.)
I realize that it’s hard to sometimes end a friendship or a relationship with someone who we love or care deeply about because they made a mistake and did something wrong, but if they’re not made aware of what is acceptable, then really would they even think that that is something they’d have to correct, work on or be mindful of in the future? And remember, the same goes for you – if no one tells you, then how will you know?
I also believe that time does make a difference and that people can come to a place where they are on the same page if they take an appropriate amount of time apart (this could be years for some!) and work on their own ‘issues’. True love is unconditional and it doesn’t stop if someone hurts us. Sometimes, love does conquer all…but only if you stand up for yourself, listen to each other’s truths and keep it real.
We all make mistakes, say or do the wrong things and fail many times. But from all of that we can choose to learn and grow, or to keep doing the same thing over and over and over again. Bottom line is that I believe in standing up for yourself and upholding your standards AND I also believe in being mindful in how we react to or deal with a situation.