Anyways… One of the reasons the cycle of giving and receiving love, which all of us are born into, is broken, is that it collides with another cycle – the cycle of hurt. All people have experienced being hurt. Some ways of being hurt are allegedly worse than others, but I would not recommend comparing them. People react differently to being hurt, so it’s in general better not to dismiss somebody else’s pain because it seems trifle to you - for somebody else it can be a really big deal. Different reactions to being hurt also manifest in different coping mechanisms. Pain never leaves us unchanged. However, some find ways to heal, and use painful experiences as a basis for growth; while others don’t know how to process (intellectually, emotionally, physically) their suffering, and instead of healing get stuck.
Everybody has experienced little cycles of hurt. You boss was mean to you at work, you come home and say something mean to your wife. Maybe five minutes later you feel remorse, understand why you acted the way you did and say you are sorry. The cycle is broken. But for some people the cycle of hurt becomes as big as life. If somebody was hurt real bad once, or has experienced many microagressions that they did not know how to process, hurting others can become a lifestyle. Of some people we say that they are mean. Well, in many cases these people have been hurt and did not know how to process their pain, sadness, frustration.
“Hmmm, what does she mean by that?” – my reader might rightfully wonder. “Does she mean that whenever somebody is mean to me in the street, in the store, in the office, I should just let it slide because the one who was mean *might* have been hurt twenty years, or twenty minutes, before our encounter? No way, this person is probably just an asshole.”
I am not suggesting that when we are hurt we should not protect ourselves, or get out of the toxic environment. People get hurt really bad all the time, and, whether that is the result of the perpetrator being unable to heal his/her own wounds or not, we should be able to, and we have the right to, defend ourselves.
What I want to work with is that “He/she is probably just an asshole” part of my hypothetical readers’ thinking. People are not born assholes, they become ones. As I mentioned in my previous post on the topic, the majority of people are born empathic in a way that allows them to feel pain of others and helps them not to inflict this pain (I will talk about empathy a lot in subsequent posts, because it is a very important concept). So if somebody hurts you, chances are high they do it because they themselves were hurt. And instead of just being angry with them (though being angry is fine too) you should find in yourself the ability to feel compassion. For they don’t know anymore how to give and receive love, and by hurting others they hurt themselves again and again, often without even knowing that. They are stuck in the cycle of hurt.
If you can get past your anger, you won't get into your own personal cycle of hurt, and you even have a chance to help the one who hurt you. More about all that later...