What do you do when someone you love hurts you? (Now I am not talking about abuse... if you feel unsafe call 911 and seek help.)
I'm talking about the child who makes you feel like you are the worse parent on the earth... or maybe a lover who hasn't been too nice lately, or a friend who doesn't return your call because they are too busy, or a teenager experiencing unruly hormone changes (you know what I'm talking about!).
When someone damages you emotionally, you have an opportunity to be powerful. Do the unexpected. Be an observer. It’s like an out of body experience. Suddenly you have a shield that everything bounces off. Nothing sticks because you are not taking anything personally. Remember, feelings are neither right nor wrong, they are just feelings.
Here are 3 rules when someone you love hurts you:
Rule 1. Don’t hurt them back...
Instead recognize that they are upset and calling out for love. A way to do this is to change your thinking... Let go of "good" and "bad" and see all behavior as a person is either "thriving" or "struggling". What do I mean? Instead of saying "you're a good kid" or "you're a bad kid", acknowledge that children (and adults) are either struggling or thriving. If someone is hurting you, they are most likely struggling, so don’t take it personally. When you know someone is struggling, it's easier to come from a place of empathy and help that person.
When we let other people’s hurtful words stick to us, we become the victim. What if I told you that the hurtful words are not really about you? Which leads me to the second rule...
Rule 2. Don’t make assumptions...
Instead be curious. Say to them,
"Tell me some more about how you are feeling. I can see how upset you are, and I feel terrible.”
Our gut is to get defensive and hurt back. If you don’t want this to be a reoccurring argument, complete it by making the person feel understood. Once you make someone feel understood the problem can be resolved.
Imagine the person saying, “It would mean a lot to me if you could just repeat back to me what I am trying to get across."
Then tell them what you are hearing to confirm it is correct and help them feel understood.
Rule 3. Remember the kids are watching you.
This is the most important rule. If we want your children to grow up feeling loved and powerful, we have to model it.
Try these rules out in your life and tell me in the comments below what you experienced. Did it help you resolve an issue?
Susan Dockerill has ten years of teaching children in public, private, and military schools at home and abroad, plus 17 years teaching and mediating with parents and teachers. Susan has the expertise to speak frankly about marriage, divorce, children, and being responsible for living the life of your dreams.
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