The days following a fight, an unpleasant confrontation with someone close or at work, or maybe even an unpleasant conversation with a stranger where we feel disrespected or hurt are often an emotional rollercoaster.
These times are difficult, even when we get that often desired last conversation with the person who hurt us, with the hope that closure will let both parties learn from their mistakes and move on.
It feels like a major setback in the healing process. When closure is not an option, a creative, rite of passage sort of ritual may help us draw that line in the sand.
An empowering perspective to deal with being hurt or dejected by others’ behaviours has been offered by Kari Kampakis, a renowned author and speaker: “Regardless of how anyone treats you, you stand to benefit. While some people teach you who you do want to be, others teach you who you don’t want to be. And it’s the people who teach you who you don’t want to be that provide some of the most lasting and memorable lessons on social graces, human dignity, and the importance of acting with integrity.”
When someone hurts our feelings, we could tune into that feeling and ask ourselves what they did/said to make us feel that way. It could be the way they spoke, their tone, expressions, body language or something else that made us feel terrible.
Whatever it may be, try to identify it and pledge to never treat someone else the same way. That way, we learn from their mistake.
The next step is to cultivate compassion: try to understand why a particular person behaved the way they did. Try seeing the situation from their perspective: why might this person choose or need to speak harshly or behave badly?
Have compassion for them, show kindness towards them but do not tolerate something that goes against your grain. Later when things are calmer, let them know that their behaviour made you feel uncomfortable. Set clear, healthy boundaries where you need to.
We could do something similar for when we meet someone we really like or when someone makes us feel great. Lean into that feeling too. Ask yourself what about their demeanour made you feel so good. Was it something they said? Did they smile at you? Did they make you feel respected?
Identify that. And make a little promise to yourself to carry a bit more of that around with you.
In this way, hurtful, unresolved experiences can be liberating for us. We can pledge to stop the hurt rather than perpetuating it, to be the change we want to see in people: to become the people we would like to be with.
Continue to cultivate this connection of compassion, kindness and forgiveness: both for yourself and for others, because we all engage in negative/hurtful behaviours from time to time. Start with yourself and then share with others– we are all positively connected in this, and in everything else.