I upset a loved one recently: a young person, near and dear to my heart.
It was not my intention to do so, and I was completely clueless I had been hurtful. Yet, my actions led to a very distraught individual. The details of the situation are irrelevant to this narrative, however the lessons learned, and the outcome of it all are what is important.
A third-party contacted me about the distress I had caused. I was dumbfounded. My first reaction was to put up my defenses and deflect, reasoning that no one could have possibly thought I would, or even could, be so callous and disrespectful. But I didn’t. Because the only thing important in that moment was the realization that someone had been hurt by my actions. Full stop.
So that’s where I moved from. And it was a moment of liberation for me.
Thankfully, one of the “good” things about isolating during a global pandemic is that the down-time allows for self-reflection and also creates an opportunity to learn new things through different lenses. During this time I’ve uncovered (and delved into) a fair number of knee-jerk reactions that I’ve been conditioned to repeat for many years.
The habit of redirecting attention away from myself when I’m “called out,” is, I believe, a learned behavior. I hadn’t necessarily recognized this tendency in myself until I started regularly seeing it in other people; especially when focused around the topics of racism, stereotyping, and supremacy culture. When confronted with the knowledge of causing harm, even unintentionally, the habit of saying, “That’s not what I meant…” really doesn’t cut it anymore (as if it did at any point in time). If someone’s feelings are hurt, or they’re offended, then that’s a fact. It’s non-negotiable. They were hurt, and the offender should be gracious enough to apologize without a drawn out story of why they really didn’t do anything wrong. It’s a habit that a lot of us need to unlearn!
I took what I’ve learned to heart, and once the person I hurt was willing, we had a loving discussion.
So, after I offered a sincere apology to my young dear one, we took some time to discuss the importance of finding a balance between offering grace, when warranted, to someone who has wronged us, and still remain empowered to stand in our truth when we are wronged. It’s not an easy balance. But it’s important that neither party flee from the discomfort. We grow when moving with presence through our trials in life, rather than hiding from them. Recognizing the reality of any situation as we interact with others, and changing behaviors as warranted, is the ultimate outcome.
Read more newsletter here