When someone close to us hurts our feelings, we have two choices – Forgive or Fester

It is all about our attitude.
We choose our attitude every day and in every situation. That choice is sometimes the greatest challenge of the day. Sure, we know that a great attitude brightens the day of those around us and a poor attitude serves to keep everyone at a distance. Who wants to be around a toxic person? Did you ever notice that good things generally come to people with great attitudes and that bad things generally come to those with poor attitudes?

The thing is that when we have a perfectly good reason (excuse) to be angry and unfriendly, we actually hurt ourselves. Sometimes, the person who is the subject of our discomfort does not even realize their role in our upset. So, who is suffering when we allow an issue to drag us down into a spiraling mess of negativity? Only us. We may even secretly wish bad things on the source of our hurt and if they appear to be just fine and continue joyfully with their lives, it serves to deepen our displeasure. If they seem to be upset about the situation, our projected gloom rests on everyone involved. Is that really a good solution? Can I be happy about causing pain to someone else over a minor issue? Chances are that everyone (including me) suffers in this situation.

The only solution to this malady is a reconfiguration of the heart, and here is how to do it. Mind you, this isn’t the easiest thing that you will do today, but it will benefit you greatly by allowing the possibility of happiness to gain a foothold in your heart.

Start by being honest… honest with yourself and honest with the person who you believe caused your hurt. This is the hardest part. When I think about confronting my good friend about something that he or she may not even be aware of, I hesitate to start the discussion, rationalizing that maybe it went unnoticed anyway. Most people can sense discomfort in others so this is unlikely. Open the door and have the conversation. In the end, your friend will benefit as much as you will.

Reminder: Nobody can hurt your feelings without your consent. This can be a tough lesson to learn, but you must give hurt the permission to cause any upset. It may seem that the hurt was thrust upon you and you have no defense but ultimately we are responsible for our own feelings. Some people are better at deflecting potentially hurtful words than others, but we can all improve by listening first and then attempting to be heard. Often, when in a situation where we feel attacked, we spend all our energy on verbalizing our side and we don’t really listen to the other side of the story. If we quiet our minds and listen, we may find that a minor misunderstanding was at the heart of our disaster. Alternatively, we may find that our friend was having a bad day and dumped some of their personal junk on us unintentionally. There are many reasons for people to do or say things that we regret later, but if the issue is understood, the impact is lessened or even eliminated. Talk about it!

I had a situation recently that challenged my sense of grace, compassion, friendliness, and several other virtues. I may never fully understand what happened from all sides of the story, but I know enough to see that the result for all involved was generally negative. I am responsible for my part.

If you tend to be just a little “overly sensitive” at times (like me) then this habit of reconfiguring the heart will open possibilities otherwise unavailable to the closed minded wretch that stews on perceived (not necessarily real) wrongs that give you excuse to dull your day.

If you find that you have a perfectly good reason to be hurt, make the conscious decision to forgive instead. Forgiveness is not giving someone license to hurt you again, it is the activity of releasing the hurt from causing any further pain to you or your friend.

To take this idea to the extreme, which would you rather have:

  1. A perfectly good excuse for failure in everything you do.
  2. Success in all your endeavors.

Most people would prefer success, but we still hang on to a good excuse from time to time. Excuses don’t help anything. If someone hurts you, forgive them and move on. This is not the same as becoming a doormat. If there is understanding between two people and the hurt continues, then visiting less often and spending less time together might be a good option. Either way, send no ill will. That will only compromise your own attitude and we can’t afford a poor attitude.

Consider opening your heart to a reconfiguration the next time a good friend seems insensitive and change your world from gloom to beauty. It is possible. It’s on my list for today. Actually, this whole blog entry was a reminder to myself to:

  1. Open a conversation when I feel hurt.
  2. Be honest.
  3. Listen first.
  4. Forgive.
  5. Move on to beauty and excellence in everything I do.

I hope you find this helpful too.



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