When You Hurt Others
I had kind of a rough weekend. One of those weekends where after every conversation, I found myself thinking, “Gosh, why did I say that?” Or, “Well that could’ve gone 100 times better.”
I hope I’m not alone when I say that this but…
Sometimes, I hurt people.
I don’t mean to. I don’t wake up in the morning and think, “Alright, let’s go make ‘em cry!”
But it happens. When I fail to listen to someone. When I interrupt someone. When I wander away from a conversation and don’t come back. When I get distracted. When I make a joke that falls hard on its face. When I get defensive and lash out. When my fuse has been rubbed down to a nub, and all it takes is one more straw on this camel’s back and I go off like a Roman candle.
I’m not proud of it. I’m working on it.
Here’s what I do to work on it.
- Retreat. Shut your mouth. Stop talking. Get out of the situation. Back up and give yourself a chance to get your sh#t together. Give yourself some space, but don’t use that space to blame, point fingers, re-hash, or judge. Use the time and space to reflect inwardly. Determine what was pushing your buttons. What was really going on? Were you defensive, jealous, bored, distracted, or something else? Were you hurting about some other area of your life, and then lashed out?
- Learn the lesson. Every challenge comes embedded with a lesson. Try to find some lesson from the situation. Perhaps it’s getting to know yourself more, what makes you tick. Maybe you learn how to empathize with others. Maybe you learn that being shy on sleep shortens your fuse. Perhaps with too much on your plate, you learn how to politely say no. Or maybe you learn what your buttons are. There’s always something to learn. The most important thing is to keep learning.
- Apologize. Give up the who’s-right-who’s-wrong story and own up to your part. Apologize to the person whom you hurt. Apologize sincerely from the heart. Avoid apologies like, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Don’t apologize for the other person’s part; apologize for your part. “I’m sorry I said that.” Do your absolute best. No one can expect more from you. You don’t have to grovel, beg, or offer them your first born. If you do your best and they accept your apology, that is wonderful. If you do your best and they don’t accept your apology, that’s their choice. Give them time, but also, keep reading on.
- Vow to do better. Make a promise to yourself to do better next time. Make a sincere commitment to stay more patient. Promise yourself that you will be more present. Listen better. Be more resilient. Be more conscious of what you’re saying - and not saying. Speak from the heart. Love harder. The best apology is changed behaviour. If you keep hurting people the same way, apologizing, then doing it all over again, it’s an indicator of something else going on inside you, and it’s best to head back up to #1.
You don’t have a responsibility to make others happy. That isn’t your job. It is their job.
But you do have a responsibility to be the best version of yourself. That is your job. And when you do, you bring out the best in others, you spread more joy, and you connect more deeply with the people around you.
Here’s to Conquering Stress,
The Stress Experts
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