Ask the right question
Does someone in your life keep hurting you? It happens to the best of us. Experiencing pain and hurt is part of the human experience. How is someone repeatedly hurting you with their thoughts or choices or actions? It could be a friend who repeatedly cancels your plans. A colleague who doesn’t pull their weight. A partner who repeatedly disrespects you. A family member who cuts you down time and time again. It can become a constant hurt in the pattern of life.
And what are we likely to do? We keep questioning “Why does that person keep hurting me?” They can see it hurts me, why do they keep doing or saying that thing? Can’t they see how much it is hurting me? We wonder “How can they do or say that thing?” We turn these questions over and over in our minds.
And nothing changes. We keep feeling hurt and we wonder why they continue to do it.
Here’s the thing. We are asking ourselves the wrong question. The question isn’t “Why does that person keep hurting me?” The real question is “Why do I keep letting them?”
When we change the question, and bring the power back to ourselves by directing it at ourselves, “I”, not the hurtful person in question, we can start getting some answers that will actually help.
“Why do I keep letting them hurt me?” leads to self awareness. It could be “Because I don’t tell her it offends me when she cancels“ to “I take on the extra work because I am too scared to confront the issue” to “I’m scared she will leave me if I speak up” to “He’s always talked down to me, since I was a child, and we’ve never reset the boundaries of our communication now I am an adult because I am too scared to rock the boat.”
The reason we keep letting people hurt us is usually fear. Fear that we can’t handle the reaction of the other person if we speak our minds. Fear that they won’t approve or agree. Fear that we simply can’t handle confrontation. Fear that we won’t be seen as a “good” or accommodating person. So, to avoid that fear we keep letting them hurt us.
So, it can be another way. We can act from self-love and respect rather than fear. We can choose to not allow ourselves to be hurt on an ongoing basis. We can choose to speak up and cope with whatever the reaction is. We can choose to distance ourselves from that person or relationship for a time. We can choose to place our thoughts elsewhere, rather than dwell on why the person who hurt us should be different. We can take our time, our energy and our focus and place it where it doesn’t hurt.
Taking our emphasis — from how we want the other person to change in thought, word or deed to what we can change in ourselves — reduces suffering and pain. It’s the fastest route to stop hurting.
Louise is a life coach, author and corporate escapee. Visit louisethompson.com for more.