Hurt People Hurt People
Written By: Mark Smith
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'Hurt people hurt people' I heard this phrase the other day for the first time the other day and I thought it was incredibly profound. I think it is absolutely the truth. I do not think people hurt people because they are evil or stupid or rotten or driven to it by 'the devil'. It has been my experience as a therapist that people certainly act extremely hurtfully towards their children and their spouses especially. I have acted hurtfully towards my children and towards a spouse. Have you? I am not saying that the hurtful behavior is excusable, just that it is understandable and forgivable. When someone is acting badly I try to look past their lashing out and see the wounded little kid inside them. I spend half my time in therapy getting spouses to do just that. It is a lot easier to observe and reinterpret bad behavior as the misdirected pain of a sweet inner child then it is to do so as an actual person in real life. It is so cool when spouses do get in touch with their vulnerable selves and openly share that instead of harping, criticizing or finger pointing. Then to see their honey melt and begin to kindly nurture them is one of the true joys of my work.
Who is behaving badly in your life? Your back-sassing teenager? Your pouty husband? Your mean ass boss? Instead of going to war with them try to gently pull the thorn out of their paws. Maybe they aren't angry at you at all. Maybe they are just depressed or worried or overwhelmed or worried sick about something? Seeing beyond the behavior allows you to give the bad acters grace. If you can see them, be patient with them, be loving to them and really hear them you will make incredible deposits in your emotional account with them. And you will help them have a safe place to drain the poison out of their system. I'm not talking about being too kind or enabling. At times THE most loving and helpful thing that you can do for someone is kick them to the curb. I'm just suggesting that it be done non-judgmentally, non-reactively and with a great deal of empathy. Share the grace people! That's all I've got.
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