“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom”. (Socrates)


I’m feeling a bit out of sorts today because of an event that happened last week.  Someone else’s confused feelings have caused them to lash out at me and have wounded me deeply.  This family member sent a message conveying their feelings and I didn’t get the opportunity to resolve anything with them. They decided they didn’t want to talk about it. I think this is what bothers me most. In a court of law an individual has the right to face their accuser and mount their own defence.  I was left holding the hot potato so to speak. So what do I do?  After having a few nights of disturbed sleep and very down days, I dwell on this more than I should.  I don’t like being at odds with anyone so it doesn’t sit well with me.

I feel that I didn’t do anything wrong.  However, I have apologised already to them if something I said was misunderstood or hurt them.  We all make mistakes and I am certainly no different than anyone else in that regard.  I can honestly say that it is not my way to wilfully do or say things that would embarrass or humiliate another human being never mind anyone I am fairly close to.   I am having a really hard time trying to get where this person was coming from – and I can say that I know them very well.  I try to understand them. So why is it so hard?  Why am I in so much discomfort right now?   What am I actually feeling?  I am left thinking that my accuser wants to hurt me and I am an easy target. Maybe the only safe target. Is that ok? Do I have to put up with this because of our relationship? I don’t think so.

So I feel anger, hurt pride, bruised ego, shame, regret, sadness, frustration.  As a psychotherapist, I have often heard clients say how they couldn’t help feeling a certain way.  They tell me that they are at the mercy of their feelings and suffer accordingly.  I have the audacity to tell them that they CAN control things by changing their thinking.  Imagine that! We have the power within us to manage stuff.  This is personal so I feel like I am on that emotional roller-coaster.  It is time I began to think rationally and as objectively as possible about this.

I begin with questioning myself – not to place blame; more like what is behind my words and intentions.  How do I feel about my role in this person’s life over the years?   I have been told that I am a very soft person, that it would be very easy to take advantage of me.  I see myself as strong- but I choose to give everyone respect and autonomy.  I am laid back – maybe too much, I’m easygoing, not readily offended by stuff.  I now wonder am I soft and too forgiving. I have been badly hurt many years ago by different events in my youth.  I have dealt with this. But I wonder if my experiences have made me over protective or too aware of how someone else might get hurt.  Do I interfere unconsciously in an effort to prevent them from suffering?  Could this perhaps result in my behaviour seeming controlling?  I have to accept that this could be possible.  However, I am only responsible for what I say and not for how someone else hears it.  I have learned to question my own perceptions.  I will usually think things over before having an opinion about it or taking any action.

I am irritated that this person does not want to talk to me.  I think that is an example bad communication and not conducive to a healthy relationship.  But I realise that I have quite a few years on them and they have some maturing to do. I don’t think it is arrogant to say that I have a better understanding because I am older. It is not level playing field.  I have no option but to ride it out and wait.  I seek advice from my mother whose wisdom is boundless.  It is a great comfort to me because I know she has the strength to be honest with me. Time heals all things and I trust that this relationship will be mended.  I will accept the situation for what it is and do no more.  If through the normal course of our relationship when things are going well, something I say can be misconstrued so badly; it makes me fearful to push where it is not wanted.  I do respect how this person feels right now.  I hope they know that I will be here waiting to be a part of their live again.  More than anything I want this individual to get know them self and understand what motivates them to behave in this way.

So dear reader, here’s what I suggest when somebody makes you feel bad.

Ask yourself, what exactly am I feeling?  Look for an underlying cause – this is often unrelated to the current triggering event.   Figure yourself out first. Then discuss it with the person involved when you are calm.  By all means express your feelings or pain.  If you know they love you, explore it with them.  Wild accusations out of the blue can be very hurtful.  It is hard to take back words once you have said them so think carefully about what you want them to know.  Be willing to forgive if you can.  Holding onto anger is like holding a hot piece of coal in your hand to throw at someone. You get burnt and are left feeling the most pain.  Be aware that your words will impact so choose them cautiously.  It is our personal responsibility to get to know ourselves.  It is a journey well worth taking and you will reap the benefits of a more fulfilled life if you do. (Not to mention the wisdom!)

If you feel you cannot talk to the person you are in conflict with it might help to speak to a counsellor or unrelated third party.