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I’m sorry.

Jamieson Van Loan

When you hurt someone without malice, through actions unintended, it is quite possibly the worst feeling, especially for an empath. This past week I did just that. As I preach being and sharing love and compassion and empathy, I sorta feel like a fraud. Here I am constantly trying to be the kindest and best version of myself and through my own actions, I hurt someone I care deeply about.

Typically when you hurt someone accidentally, your tribe says but it’s not your fault or you didn’t mean it, that’s on them, etc, etc. But at the day’s end, this person is upset and hurt and rightfully so. That pain needs to be acknowledged. We are all allowed to emotionally react to situations in our own way. Regardless if you would react in that manner or think their reaction is valid or not, it is not up to you. If someone feels justified in their emotions, your job is to acknowledge them and lay the foundation for an open nonjudgmental discussion.

We should always feel all the feelings. Own them. Express them. Swim through them. I think a lot of the time when we do or say things that hurts another person, our auto-response is defensive. I know in my past, I’ve gotten angry at other people’s hurt feelings. Having responses like “grow up” or “don’t put that on me” or “that’s your issue” or anything that dismisses someone’s emotions is not only the immature response, but it creates more unnecessary drama. It has taken me a lot of self awareness to see the other person’s pain, acknowledge where it is coming from, own my part in it and apologize and hopefully gain forgiveness and move forward.

The caveat to all this is that your emotional reaction should not be used as a way to trigger a negative response. When we are hurt, we instinctively want to make our assailant the target of pain. We want to use words to bring them to our level of suffering. We try to trigger them and gaslight them, reacting from the most primitive part of our brain. You hurt me, therefore I hurt you.

This is where emotional maturity should kick in. Either a space needs to be created for the anguish to subside before a discussion can be held or the victim needs to realize where the hurt is originating and be able to relay that in an evolved manner. When you boil down hurt, it almost always comes from a place of fear. It can be fear of reliving your past, fear of connection, fear of loss, fear of rejection, fear of heartbreak and so forth, but typically hurt overlays fear.

When you can step back from a situation and peel away the emotional layers to see what is subconsciously happening, you tend to have a more peaceful and respectful approach to the situation.

This should be all our ultimate goals in relationships: to genuinely seek the place where your friend, family member or partner is coming from, make the time and space to understand, or at the very least, respect their position and then cultivate a mature, hopefully solution-driven, conversation surrounding that.

I understand that in the heat of the moment, this is rarely the case, but it should always be our goal. And like all emotionally mature goals, this takes vulnerability. Being able to put your guard down, dive deep into your self, listen and respect a human’s entire past and current stance- it all requires serious work. Because we don’t show up to any situation without our personal baggage. Own your baggage and respect others.

What I learned this week is that my actions do not live a vacuum and I should be more vigilant about how I behave or speak in this world. I have also learned how to set aside my own opinions in order to better understand where my loved ones are coming from. Most of all I’ve learned to accept humility more.

If my fave one, who I hurt, is reading this, please know (again) how sorry I am. Please find forgiveness and acceptance of what cannot be changed. You are loved.

To everyone else: be mindful of how you carry yourself because you never know if your actions or words are hurting another and if they are, be understanding and modest in your approach and sincere and kind in your apology.

Vulnerably yours,