December 26, 2020

6 Things to Remember when Someone is Hurtful & How to Forgive them.

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I was recently on the receiving end of someone’s cruelty.

My efforts to communicate proved ineffective and were met with hatred and misunderstanding. Knowing that the hurtful degree has less to do with me and more to do with how this person feels allows me to forgive them rather than hold hatred in my heart toward them—because no one really ever benefits from that.

I’ve compiled a list of things to remember, when people hurt us, to find peace in this unfortunate occurrence.

May it be of benefit to us all as we navigate through our interactions with others.

Hurt people hurt people.

Think back to anyone who’s hurt you. Were they hurt, too? Many times when we have unresolved feelings or are in pain, we lash out at others. We’re mean because we’re having a bad day. Short-tempered because we’re irritated or overwhelmed. Cruel because we’re miserable. And the space that once held love now holds a pain that influences and sometimes controls our actions.

You’ve heard the phrase: misery loves company, right? I believe that can be taken in two ways—one: misery wants company to help them escape, and two: misery wants to spread to their company so they aren’t the only ones miserable.

How someone feels has little to do with you. 

We see through our own lenses. When we perceive things in a certain way, we expect others to see the same. For example, a simple “okay” to someone in a text could be taken as a simple okay, or it could be taken as a word with unspoken meaning and attitude. It all depends on who is reading it and how they would use such a response. Someone that feels personally attacked when confronted by an opposing perspective may not hold the capacity needed to understand outside of their view. Oftentimes people will react defensively having perceived insult.

You are not responsible for how someone sees you.

Back to the lenses, when someone declares their story about you, it often has little to do with you. We are conditioned by our experiences to make automatic assumptions about what we perceive. Our automatic thoughts are related more to what’s inside of us rather than the other person. Someone who’s unaware of things outside of themselves has a hard time understanding said things. It is not your responsibility to own this nor is it your responsibility to suffer over it.

Not everyone has the same heart as you.

How you would treat a situation or a person isn’t always the same way another would. When one person would listen with compassion, another would hear with indifference. When one would appreciate honest and open discussion, another would hold things in and explode. When one would respectfully end a relationship, another would burn the bridge. You are you, and they are they. We aren’t always treated the way we would treat another.

Sometimes people feel the need to make you an enemy in order to justify their actions.

When guilt sets in and they begin to question where they stand on an issue, stubbornness will keep them holding on tight to avoid admitting they may be wrong or out of line. They will then create a one-sided story that paints you in a bad light to justify having hurt you and avoid taking responsibility for the severity of their actions.

When we feel powerless, we do rash things to gain a sense of control. 

Sometimes people tear others down to make them feel better about themselves. This is the result of emotional immaturity and it partly relates to hurt people hurting people. Someone only goes out of their way to hurt you when they feel powerless. Doing so gives them a false sense of power when they feel out of control. While negative and undesirable, it happens when we are unable to see outside of ourselves. We aren’t always able to understand others’ actions through the lens of compassion, empathy, and deference.

As we grow, we realize more and more about others and the choices they make. We realize how little someone is actually thinking about us when they do something. Don’t take the actions of others personally. What someone does defines them, not you.

And as we grow, we expand. We are all on a journey that looks different from another’s, and sometimes we run into people who are on a different wavelength. Sometimes we run into people who haven’t yet reached the evolution of understanding outside of themselves.

Keep this in mind when someone hurts you. It helps the forgiveness process when we realize how little another’s actions really have to do with us. And in order to effectively forgive and move forward with peace in our hearts, we must be able to understand the unseen.

“Remember: despite how open, peaceful, and loving you attempt to be, people can only meet you, as deeply as they’ve met themselves.” ~ Matt Kahn


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