I am not talking about hurtful words from verbal abuse. There is no joy in abuse. Ever. Those situations call for support and intervention.
The hurtful words I’m talking about are those from a conversation gone wrong. There’s a bit of truth in every joke, sarcastic comment and subtle jab. People often express these truths out of frustration, impulsivity, or even to deflect a topic of conversation in a different direction. Being at the receiving end of these words can be amusing, annoying or devastating depending on how we are feeling, how we perceive them, and how we react to them.
The bite to these words is even deeper when they come from a loved one. People are typically more open and truthful with the people closest to them because these relationships are considered “safe”. Small consolation to the receiver of these “truths”. It’s important to remember that these “truths” reflect the speaker’s true feelings or perceptions, not necessarily factual truth.
Listening to someone speak to us this way can feel like “fighting words” are attacking us and that we must defend against them and/or fight back. Ripe setting for an argument or even a yelling match. Relationships can be damaged or even terminated because of hurtful words. It’s hard to step back, think logically and understand where these words are coming from when our feelings are hurt.
Recently, I was told by someone very close to me something that caused me to question why I even write. When I wrote the first few drafts of this blog, I included the words. I have edited them out because the words don’t matter; the feelings do. These words made me question how much this person really knew me. Then I questioned if I had been holding back or guarding my true self with this person. I even considered shutting down this blog and taking a break from writing altogether.
I was angry and hurt. And very discouraged. However, before I made the drastic move of shutting down the blog I decided to do a little reflecting. How did I get from the hurtful words to the conclusion that I should stop writing?
Well, since there’s a little bit of truth in hurtful words, with some time and clarity I found the real issue behind them and adjusted my reaction to them. This person and I were having a disagreement and were on opposite ends of an issue. The way I felt about it caused problems which resulted in feelings of irritation, frustration and fatigue; definitely not joy. It came down to poor communication from both of us.
Included in my ineffective communication style were results of my feelings of being hurt and misunderstood from a previous issue. I had been holding these negative feelings in and they came out in ways I was not even aware of. Underlying issues left unattended have a way of pushing themselves to the top.
I love me – the person – the spirit that I am. I connect easily and with minimal effort to some, but other relationships require more effort, thought and care. When I feel disregarded I shut down, but that is what I need to change. Shutting down or disconnecting stops the flow of joy! I must remain open and connected in a more positive way that keeps the flow going.
Is there really joy in hurtful words? Yes! They point us in a direction of reflection to make a necessary or needed change. Regardless of what that change is, or what negative part of ourselves is put in the spotlight, they provide the catalyst for us to take action, make changes to uncover and become our best selves; if we are willing to do that.
Relationships with loved ones are precious. They often provide the mirror we need to see ourselves in a clearer, different or better light. Hurtful words can bring out the best or worst in us.
Embrace the message behind the hurtful words. Be your best self. Spread the joy.