We all have relationships with others, some of us are married, some have close friends, some have amazing relationships with colleagues. Relationships are a part of life, but they can also be very challenging too.
‘You hurt me’ or ‘I feel like this because of you’ are common phrases people say when a relationship is not going so well.
Particularly with close relationships, when another does something that is less than loving or even abusive it can feel very personal and deep hurts can come up. But have we ever stopped to consider that perhaps it is never personal?
If someone is putting you down or abusing you in any way, even though they are talking to you and about you, what if it is not actually personal to you at all? Not one bit? This is a difficult thing to grasp.
What if the abuse they are hurling at you is actually coming from their own inner turmoil, and you just happen to be the person they are spewing out at in that moment? And even though they may be saying things that sound very personal, it is possible to feel that it is not personal at all. Even if what the person is saying appears to sound ‘right’ if it does not come with a quality that is at least respectful it is not an honouring way to communicate.
The key is to truly observe the person talking to you and recognise that they are struggling within themselves and at this moment in time they are choosing to not deal with their own tension or the unresolved issue they feel, and so they are just using you as a distraction to vent their own inner pain. But none of this is about you, a person simply makes it about you to distract themselves from what they need to look at.
If we open to the possibility of the above being true, is it really possible to be hurt by another? What if the belief ‘you hurt me’ is not actually true at all? Wow that is a game changer!
Unfortunately the belief ‘you hurt me’ is still very much entrenched within our society.
Moreover, today there are some therapies that actually cultivate this culture of victimhood, by encouraging the rehashing of ‘stories of hurt’ that we incorrectly perceive are personal. This is ultimately disempowering because it means that in order to find resolution we must rely on the other person changing and somehow making it up to us, giving us no agency over our own therapeutic process. Therefore at best the symptoms might be managed but the underlying issue not completely addressed, which is a ridiculous set-up that keeps us trapped in the issue.
On a deeper note, perhaps blaming another for our own unresolved hurt is a game we play with ourselves to delay our own development in life. In other words, could it be that we have something to gain by ‘staying in hurt’? On the surface it appears there is nothing to gain by staying in a hurt, but perhaps this is not the case.
For example, what if taking things personally and blaming becomes a way to not take responsibility for deepening our understanding of ourselves and others? Is it possible that ‘staying in hurt’ becomes a choice to give up on ourselves rather than holding ourselves in the appreciation and self-worth that we innately deserve?
What if the ultimate empowerment is found in realising that we are much greater than the sum total of our hurts– and that in fact we always have a choice whether to respond or react to how others are being around us.
More will be written in an upcoming series of articles on this topic. If you would like to read more be sure to subscribe to receive email updates.
BIOGRAPHY Psychologist Brendan Mooney works with adults, adolescents and children. With a genuine interest in people's well-being, Brendan brings a warmth, practicality and an equality that supports clients to truly address underlying issues and blockages that are preventing them from moving forward.