Have you ever noticed your first reaction when you get hurt, emotionally or physically?
Do you become angry and defensive or do you cry and express sadness?
A few months ago, my friend’s eight-year-old-daughter asked me, “How come grown-ups don’t cry when they get hurt?”
“We do.” I told her.
“Nuh-uh. You guys don’t cry you just get mad!” She insisted.
I would yell, “Stop!” “No!” “Don’t!” “Bad puppy!” but it only got Harper more excited.
Finally, after fearing she was turning into Stephen King’s canine Cujo, I hired Stacy, the awesome dog trainer.
It only took a minute for Harper to give her a live demo. That’s when Stacy instructed me, “You have to yell, ‘OWW!’ and act like she’s really hurting you.”
She IS really hurting me! I thought.
Stacy explained that Harper never wanted to hurt me and if I expressed that she was – she’d stop.
A minute later, Harper started jumping and I dramatically yelled, “Owww! Owww! Ouch!!! Oww, that hurts!!”
Harper stopped right away, tilted her furry head and looked at me with her sweet puppy eyes.
She never scratched or nipped at me again.
It was interesting what my friend’s daughter observed about grown-ups getting mad instead of crying when we’re hurt and there’s a lot of truth to it.
For many of us, it’s easier to get pissed off when our feeling’s get hurt (or we stub our toe!) versus express vulnerable hurts.
But what if instead of getting angry, defensive or yelling, we opened up and shared our hurts?
With Harper, once I showed her what she was doing hurt me she stopped immediately.
When someone says to us, “That hurts my feelings” or we see they’re crying or sad we almost always respond by saying, “OMG I’m so sorry! I never meant to hurt you.”
But when someone yells at us, we have a tendency to yell right back. (Or curse them in our heads!)
The thing is, it’s almost impossible to be heard when we’re yelling.
It’s also almost impossible to truly listen when we’re being yelled at.
But most of us respond kindly when we know we’ve hurt someone versus angered them, because the vast majority of people in this world never want to hurt another. Directly or indirectly.
I don’t know the reason why grown-ups tend to get mad versus express hurt, as my friend’s daughter astutely observed.
I do though know there are many ways kids are wiser and approach life in a healthier way than we do.
Next time you feel hurt try allowing yourself to feel just that.
See if expressing that hurt versus getting mad makes a difference in how you feel and how the person who hurt you responds.
When we allow our true feelings to surface we often experience less pain.
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