We have been told to tell the person who hurt our feelings all about it.
We have been told that it’s their job to apologize for hurting our feelings, and they should care that they hurt our feelings, and they should show us they are really sorry, and do things to repair our relationship.
There’s just one problem—this almost never works.
Why? Most of the time, the person who hurt my feelings has no idea what they did or said or why my feelings are hurt. They are almost always completely clueless. So, when they don’t apologize correctly, or do enough to repair the relationship, I have to stay mad at them.
I have to keep trying to explain to them why they hurt my feelings, and how I want them to change and never do that again. I have to spend time feeling frustrated, and rejected, and unloved, and uncared for, and then I have to go to a spiritual workshop and try to forgive them for hurting my feelings. I have to spend a lot of my valuable time being upset.
There is another way.
When someone hurts my feelings, I can practice awareness and acceptance before I jump into action. How do I feel? I will try not to dwell on what the other person said or did, but on how I feel. What exactly got hurt? Why did it hurt my feelings? Does it remind me of something that happened to me in the past? I can be curious about what exactly happened.
Next, I can accept my feelings. I will accept that I am a human being and my feelings got hurt. I will give myself time to understand what happened. I will understand and accept myself. By doing this, I don’t need to spend a lot of time “communicating” with the person who hurt me and then getting mad again because they don’t even get what happened and then forgiving them because they made me mad, etc. Instead, I have taken care of myself.
I am not dependent on someone else to help me understand myself and process through my feelings. Now that I know more about what happened and about my own self, I can take action if needed. I do not need to accept unacceptable behavior. If I need to have a conversation with someone, I will go ahead and have it. I will be much more able to deal with reality and to own my part in what happened.
When I truly understand only I am responsible for my feelings, I can take action. I can take care of myself. I can do what needs to be done. I am not at the mercy of someone else. That is freedom. When I realize I cannot make someone else “be okay” (and they can’t make me be okay either) the only thing left to do is love and accept love.
That’s what I’ve wanted all along.