Perhaps someone expressed a thought unkindly. You found yourself reacting to a perceived slight. Maybe you spent a good deal of time working on a project only to have your name missed when the recognition was handed out. There was that time you asked to have a third party investigate a complaint (perhaps bullying in the workplace or on your volunteer team) and the powers that be seemed to dismiss your request. Then there was that love interest that never felt like it put you first.
Whatever the circumstances, hurt feelings occur when you interpret an event as a deliberate message that you didn’t measure up. But was that gut response accurate?
We’re all emotional. We’re capable of living with great passion and enthusiasm – directed positively or negatively. But once the emotions start running, objective analysis of the situation will be compromised.
When U.S. President Donald Trump perceives an attack, he goes on the offensive – striking out on Twitter in an attempt to get his voice heard. But don’t we all do this at some level? We perceive a threat and go on the offensive against those who we feel wronged us. We seek to validate our sense of injustice by rallying the troops (or a few good people) to our defence.
There are a lot of situations where we might find our feelings bruised, and that bruising may cause us to react in undesirable or uncharacteristic ways.
Mastering those emotions and learning to move on productively is a useful skill.
If a situation (or relationship) no longer supports you, you have every right to choose a new path or, at the very least, limit your exposure. It’s also useful to ensure that you’re not overreacting based on your insecurity or a misinterpretations of the facts.
So how do you begin to sort through the emotions?
Resolving any conflict begins with curiosity. Be curious about your reaction and how you responded with hurt feelings. Your version of reality at this moment influences the world around you, dictated by your actions.
Next, how did you interpret the behaviour or attitude of the inflicting party (or group)? Ask yourself: “How do they perceive what just happened so that this behaviour makes sense to them? What’s their story behind this?”
When we get curious about intention, we often discover where the disconnect occurred. Then it’s possible to salvage the relationship rather than feeling compelled to toss it all away.
If, after doing this exploratory work, you decide this relationship no longer serves you, then prepare to move on. You’ll only ever be as great as the people you surround yourself with, so be brave enough to let go of those who consistently bring you down.
If someone makes you feel uncomfortable and insecure every time you’re with them, for whatever reason, they’re probably not close friend material. If you feel emotionally drained after hanging out with a group or get a small hit of anxiety when you’re reminded of them, listen to your gut. There are so many opportunities for connecting with those who energize and inspire you to be your best that it makes no sense to choose negative paths.
People and organizations change direction and focus. It’s perfectly normal.
If you decide that leaving is the best option in those circumstances, do so with dignity and not with disruption. Accept that things change, often spontaneously. There’s a constant ebb and flow to life and relationships are all a part of that movement.
When life is good, enjoy it. Don’t go looking for something better every second. And don’t justify your departure with resentment or vengeance.
We can’t change mistakes made, but we can alter how we respond to them. Accept responsibility and move on optimistically.
Troy Media columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications.