How Should I Respond to People Who Hurt Me

Someone recently asked me this question about how to respond to people who hurt us. I get it, believe me. Our first (unconscious) instinctual reaction is to respond with anger. But this would be a reaction that lacks wisdom, patience, perspective, and most importantly, efficacy. It is just not effective when communicating to respond with anger. People’s walls go up and they dig even deeper into their positions.

So how can we see the error of that small thinking? How can we step back and see the bigger picture? How can we respond most effectively? To do this, we need to maintain our composure so we can see the situation as it truly is and how best to proceed. By not losing ourselves in rage, and through a little careful analysis, we can see there is never any need to be angry, there is no need to hate, and there is no benefit to conflict.

In this episode, I explain why love is the only answer, and how to love even our greatest enemies. We are all only here because of love. Someone nourished and nurtured us as babies because of love. Love can save lives, and the lack of love is what has caused all violence and cruelty in this world. Love isn’t some fantasy or hippy thing. It literally can change the world.

***If you prefer reading to listening, here’s the transcript of this podcast***

The question I recently received was, “How can you respond with love when someone does or says something wrong? I believe you should respond by expressing your true feelings about how it made you feel. When you respond with love, the other person may not learn anything because you aren’t holding them accountable.”

That’s a great question. The answer comes down to this: Responding with love does not mean avoiding telling someone how you feel. It doesn’t mean staying quiet, nodding, and smiling along. That’s not loving yourself, and it’s not loving the other person. What we’re talking about here is whether, when someone upsets me, I should respond with my emotions.

We all hear things that offend us, hurt our feelings, or go against our values, which can offend our sensibilities. Or someone may simply say something hurtful.

But responding with love means not expressing anger. It means communicating your true feelings in a way that shows love to the other person, indicating that you are not angry at them, but perhaps that something they said was hurtful. Maybe you even took it the wrong way, because this happens all the time. We jump to conclusions in our minds; we react with anger.

But most of the time, people are not trying to be hurtful. Most of the time, people are being unmindful of the words they use. So, we have to respond by recognizing that they may not even know what they said. We love them so much that we simply want to communicate why what they said could be seen as hurtful.

Love doesn’t mean changing the words you use; it means conveying your love and respect for that human being despite something they may have said.

There is such a beautiful story of that black musician who convinced over 100 Ku Klux Klan members to give up their robes, handed them over to him, and quit the Klan, completely giving up racism. This gentleman did it through love. He did it through listening and asking questions. These former racists were able to lower their guard not because they saw the humanity in him, but because he saw the humanity in them. That is what love is about.

Love is recognizing that none of us are perfect; we are all flawed. We are here either to help lift each other up or to try to tear someone down. But when we tear them down, we know they’ll put their guard up. They’ll put up big, thick walls that are impenetrable to any rational discussion. They will become more entrenched in their views and ideas, and they will even become more identified with these views because so much of how people identify themselves is based on what they are against, as opposed to what they’re necessarily for.

So, to truly, actually connect with someone, to truly, actually let someone know that what they did was hurtful or wrong, the only way to truly help them see that is by communicating with deep love and compassion. This tells them that you are not trying to win a fight; you’re simply helping them realize something. This is why responding with love is the only wise thing to do.

Responding by not sharing your feelings keeps the world in ignorance, keeps the world in this low level of consciousness bickering, where nobody hears anybody. But when we are open and not closed off, when we can ask questions, when we don’t lose our temper, when we can stay present and mindful of the reactions going on within us, and then consciously with intention, choose love, we can change hearts, we can change minds, and we can change the world.

When we think we are our thoughts, we let them dictate our emotions and we suffer. When we discover who we truly are, thoughts become simply the appearance of words in our mind arising within our field of conscious awareness, no different than if we heard it on the radio. Take the journey within, in the book, Finding Your True Self: A Love Story.

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