I was chatting with a friend last night, talking about our respective divorces, and we asked each other biggest lessons learned. For me, learning to communicate in a healthy and open way has been my most important takeaway. Believe it or not, I wasn’t always so open with my heart. When tension would arise in my marriage, I would push it down until eventually it would explode in a hideous way, or create an atmosphere of ongoing resentment. I didn’t do myself any favors.
As a result of my divorce, and now three years of intensive therapy, I’ve learned how to address problems and pain in a more direct and healthy manner. Having these uncomfortable conversations can be, well, uncomfortable, but ultimately fosters trust and support. Ladies and gents, this is where I remind you that it is never okay to break up with someone via text. And by the way, guilty as charged. But it also leads me to another very important point: you don’t get to decide when you’ve hurt someone.
People are built differently. Some of us are more sensitive, some of us are teflon. Regardless, we all have a breaking point, and I challenge you to name one person who hasn’t, at some point, had their feelings hurt by another human. When that happens; when you’ve hurt someone, you don’t get to decide if it’s valid. Spoiler alert: it’s valid if they say it’s so. So what to do?
Apologize. Even if you think their reasons for being hurt are silly or unwarranted, apologize. Saying your sorry that you made someone feel like crap doesn’t make you a lesser person. It doesn’t even mean you’re in the wrong. It means you are compassionate and sensitive to the fact that your words or actions wounded someone in some way. And by acknowledging this, you open the door to healthy discussion about how you can do better and how you can prevent this sort of thing from happening again.
Pride is an evil little monster, and can seriously annihilate productive relationships. Put it to bed. It takes some getting used to, but I swear, the more you can look at any situation from the other person’s perspective and try to understand the source of their pain, the better you’ll be as a romantic partner, friend, parent, daughter/son, sibling, colleague, etc.
This is a little truth talk from someone who recently had her feelings hurt and is still waiting for acknowledgement of that — which I also recognize I may never receive. It’s also truth talk from someone who has hurt others and likely made them wait an unreasonable amount of time for an apology.
It’s a beautiful thing to validate someone’s pain, and if you’re the source of it, no matter how silly it may seem to you, say you are sorry for whatever made that person feel betrayed, less than, whatever. You can’t know how important that acknowledgment of pain can be.
Take care of one another. We’re all we’ve got. XOXO.