What we say can hurt
“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” Dalai Lama
What we say
Have you ever said something to someone that you wish you had not said? Or, has someone ever said something to you that hurt you to your core? Many of us have said things that we wish we had not said knowing that in the end our words were hurtful to those we care about. If there are things we say that are hurtful why do we say them in the first place? Many times we say things that hurt others because we hurt inside ourselves.
Things that get said
It goes something like this: someone says something rude to you or about you, someone wrongly accuses you of doing something, or someone says something that puts you on the defensive. You are angry, you respond without thinking and with the intention of protecting your feelings. You respond in anger justifying your own feelings and disregarding the offender’s. When you do this you create an emotional connection to the person that hurt you which keeps your feelings of hurt alive in your mind. Over time your mind continues to replay what was said driving you to become not a very nice person.
Feelings – yours or mine
Why does it seem like there are those who spend so much more time saying hurtful words than kind words? Is it that they really hurt inside, or is it that most of us don’t understand how to communicate our feelings? As individuals, as different as we may seem, we are still all wired emotionally pretty much the same – we all experience the four basic feelings: anger, pain, pleasure and hurt. It’s how we communicate those feelings that separate us.
For example; when someone says something hurtful to you, do you tell them they hurt you? Or, that you are feeling hurt? Many will respond with “you hurt me when you said that…” The problem with this is you disown responsibility for your feelings when you use the word “you”. In order to be able to do something about the way you feel you must own the feeling which you do by using the word “I”. “I hurt” rather than “You hurt me” enables you to take responsibility for your feelings. When you respond with “I hurt when you say those things to me”, you own and validate your feelings. Responding in this manner does not blame the other person for the way you feel rather it provides feedback to the other person about how you feel as a result of what they said. If you don’t own your feelings you cannot do anything about them.
How we respond
Of course responding like this can be very difficult especially if you are not comfortable with expressing your feelings. It may even be counter to your belief system that is telling you that feelings are better left unacknowledged. Ask yourself how you feel when something hurtful is said to you. Then state how you feel when those things are said “I hurt when you say things like that to me.”
What we say can hurt the ones we care about. The next time you want to strike with words to get even or gain a one up think about what the consequences could be. In Deepak Chopra’s book, Ageless Mind, Timeless Body, he states that almost all negative feelings such as anger and resentment begin with the emotion of “hurt”. He goes on to say that if “hurt” is not resolved or released it is internalized eventually resulting in some other emotion. Considering this, it would be easy to suggest that if you fail to let someone know that their harsh words hurt you, eventually you will do the same thing.
Don’t hurt the ones you love and care about with your words. Once they are spoken you can never get them back.
“A torn jacket is soon mended, but hard words will bruise the heart of a child.” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow