I’m letting go of the notion that I’ll never hurt someone’s feelings. I invite you to do the same. I’ve lived with that intention and it didn’t get me healthier relationships.
In the past, I’ve walked on egg shells in the hopes I wouldn’t offend you. Twisting this way and that, try as I might, I simply couldn’t please everyone, all the time.
I’m happy to report that I’ve let go off this intention. I invite you to do the same. You know how slimy it feels when someone is trying to please you, yes? Naturally, the more I give myself space to be me, not who I think you want me to be, the more I can also cut you some slack and encourage you to be you.
Still, despite our best intentions, conflict happens. We hurt each other. There is a rupture in the space between, even with both of us being ourselves.
Some of the most important indicators a healthy relationship have to do with the intensity of the hurt/rupture and the immediacy of the repair.
We want less intensity and more immediate repair. We want to be tuned into each other from a place of self-acceptance.
Hurt people hurt people. The intensity can be severe, the repair non-existent, and then the frequency quite often. We must heal.
When (not if) I hurt someone, I feel a shift in my body. I have a choice to react or respond. Today I choose, as much as I can, to respond. When I have this response-ability, I can often stop myself from saying or doing something regretful.
I calm myself down by taking a few deep breaths, and use my body as a guide for staying present in the moment. This lessens the intensity of the rupture/conflict. Deep breathing heals.
I remind myself gently it’s okay to feel uncomfortable. This, too, shall pass. I tend to myself with self-compassion. Later I walk or maybe take a hot bath.
In the past, I ran from discomfort which only fanned the flames of negativity. It didn’t resolve the issues at hand. I’d be caught in the eddy of guilt and swallowed in the quicksand of shame. This was way worse that eggshell walking I mentioned earlier.
Guilt reminds me I did something wrong and I do what I can to fix it. It can be my teacher. I can get out of the eddy and get back into the flow of life.
Shame tells me I am something wrong and I truly believe it is toxic. It can be my tormentor. It’s an inside job, healing the shame; a job I find incredibly worthwhile.
Many people are conflict avoidant, they don’t want to hurt or be hurt. I haven’t seen that work too well. The negative energy builds up and growth gets truncated. Remember, conflict is growth trying to happen. It’s kinda like the birth canal. Dark and dank and sometimes terrifying, we can come out on the other side of conflict stronger and healthier.
Think of welding, the process actually strengthens the bond. Let’s become unbreakable. The beautiful opportunity to repair the space between is a skill we as humans must learn because we’re not perfect. And we can’t expect ourselves to be.
In Hawaiʻi, there is a beautiful relationship healing practice called hoʻoponopono. Hoʻoponopono means to correct. Pono means excellence, wellbeing, true condition or nature. To return to this sense of well-being is the spirit behind this traditional practice.
These are the essential ingredients needed in resolving conflict through repair:
Please forgive me.
I love you.
Isn’t that enough?