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How could he do that to me? How do you do that to someone you love?
Why did she say that? Was she trying to hurt me?
What were they thinking by saying that? Didn’t they even consider my feelings?
As human beings, many of us are sensitive to the tone, behavior, and actions of others. Unless a person is cold and unfeeling, we can’t help but absorb certain words and comments.
We take things quite personally. We find it difficult to find the logic, rationale, or reasons when our emotions are on fire and burning out of control.
I caught myself doing this recently, traveling down that road of overthinking. It was filled with bumps, dark, and desolate, and I was driving at full speed with the high beams on.
The questions darted through my mind, one after the other. The how could, why would, and what if playlist on shuffle.
The endless possibility of answers were loud and I finally turned them off to rid myself of the unnecessary noise in my head.
Memory lane can be a lovely path to take or it can be a lonely and pitiful one, depending on what memories we choose to recall and how we process them.
Too often we forget that we are not the only person in relationships—whether romantic, friends, or family.
Some of us give completely, losing ourselves. Some of us build walls, then wonder why others can’t get in. And some of us accept and tolerate a bit too much, downplaying the words and actions of others until we reach a boiling point and explode.
I hit the brakes on memory lane when I came to the realization that I was taking things personally. I had taken a situation and temporarily played the martyr, a victim who was exploited by an unfeeling person who had insincere intentions.
I’d taken responsibility for my own words and actions and punished myself unreasonably.
I clearly recognized the part I played in the demise, but I found it difficult to understand how a person who loves another could be so hurtful. Not to say that I was a saint. The words that spew from my mouth when hurt are venomous, a verbal toxicity that would poison even the most callous of human beings.
But I took a step back and removed my fiery emotions for a moment. I put myself in the shoes of another, and my perspective shifted.
We hurt people. That’s the reality. No matter how decent, loving, or good a person we believe ourselves to be. Life can be complex and relationships, even more so. Despite the greatest of intentions, hurt is inevitable because we are human.
I’d forever been of the mind that we can rise above whatever happens to us. We take the high road and let the chips fall where they may.
I’d also been the one to intellectualize my feelings, convincing myself that I was fine when I was far from it.
What I have learned is that the issue seems to lie in our expectations.
It’s important to have boundaries and standards. It’s vital to ensure we don’t wind up in abusive relationships or surrounded by people who suck the life out of us.
However, we cannot expect others to be who we are or who we would want them to be.
People are people. Flawed and imperfect. And they have their own inner demons that may cause them to act the way they do.
We say they’re cold when in actuality, they may not know how to express themselves. We say they’re insincere when at the time they said something, they may have actually meant it. We say they’re callous when they don’t love us in the way they promised, but maybe they’d loved us in the only way they knew how.
So the next time you find yourself taking something personally, think again.
Take a moment to look at the full picture, not just the part that includes you.
You may be surprised to find out that in letting go of the expectations you had, a newfound freedom and peace replaces them.