"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Discovering Hurt

Pain: physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc. A distressing sensation in a particular part of the body: a back pain. Mental or emotional suffering torment: I am sorry my news causes you such pain.

The term "hurt" means many different things to just as many different people. What may cause you pain often doesn't even register with someone else. Some people are overly sensitive and others have thicker skin than rawhide; that would be my father. Some hurt is universal, such as a death of a loved one, a broken or failed relationship or some kind of accident that cause physical pain

As Webster defines hurt we often can experience this not so uncommon phenomenon physically, mentally and emotionally.

The pain I want to discuss is the pain "we", you and I, cause others. To be more specific, the kind of pain or hurt that is caused by us only to learn about it at a much later date. Often we have no idea what kind of feelings, hurt or pain someone is carry around with them on the inside. And if you would all do me the honor of allowing me to be more specific once again, the truth of the matter is many times those people that we have unknowingly hurt are often some of our closes friends and well meaning acquaintances. 

This past Sunday I had the "great fortune" to speak with someone that I hurt in the past. This person wasn't physically harmed nor have they been scarred for life because of the situation. They are not currently in therapy nor despise me as a person. In the end it was the inappropriate behavior on my part and the completely inconsiderate actions on my behalf in the past.

In a word, I was tremendously "insensitive".

The names and places, the event and the time are irrelevant. Trust me, I hear the faint sound of many voices saying, "Whatever dude...give me the dirt." There will be no dirt or gossip, only an opportunity for everyone involved, including the reader, a chance to gain some insight and knowledge into how one is to properly listen, and respond, to the words of someone we offended or hurt. And if we are lucky, and blessed, we will grow in wisdom when we capture the ability to "consistently" behave in the right way when we find out that we have caused another pain in the future. 

If you heard me once, you have heard me say it a thousand times; "knowledge is the knowing, but wisdom is the doing." 

As I mentioned earlier, it was a gift and a blessing that this person shared with me their thoughts, concerns and hurts. It was a gift that they had the maturity to share with me in a non-threatening way and it was a blessing that they were able to display their hurt with such conviction that it will leave an everlasting impression in my mind and on my heart. 

As I drove away from this chance encounter I reviewed in my head what I just learned. 

In the end there were three guiding principles that wouldn't leave my mind. Let me share. 

REMAIN SILENT: The first thing that fortunately came to my mind when the other person was sharing with me their disapproval was to shut up. Plain and simple, keep your mouth shut. There is a reason the good Lord gave us one mouth and two ears. I have had the great misfortune to meet people that act as if they have two mouths and one ear. They are insufferable. I know... I use to be one of those people. The quickest way to minimize, blow off, offend, "say you don't get it" and otherwise come off like a clueless and arrogant knucklehead is to start defending yourself immediately. It is immature, childish and adolescent to behave in this manner. Whether the person is completely off base or spot on let them talk. Let them voice their disapproval and let them finish their sentences. Don't interrupt... just shut up. Just as an aside, the only time I would do otherwise is if the other person is creating so much tension and their body language is so demonstrative that could cause the situation to escalate, in this situation I would calmly walk away. In both instances it's vital we don't argue our right to be right. It is a very natural and human response and reaction to defend ourselves when someone is taking us to task. I can only humbly suggest not to. The other person will be more inclined to listen to your response if you first let them talk. In the end it's best to remain silent, everyone will benefit.

WEAR THEIR SHOES: One of the best, and most productive, things we can do is to view the hurt and pain of another from their perspective. This takes maturity, humility and empathy. If you are lacking in any of those qualities it will be very difficult to remain silent and see things through their eyes. No matter the degree of the hurt, no matter the cause or reason for the pain the opportunity for moving closer to one another is eminent and very possible. The chances are often much greater than anyone can, or wants, to believe, but please hear me when I say there is a legitimate opportunity to draw closer to that person.  Again, listen when I say there are something's that are almost impossible to get over. I get that and I won't even waste our time giving examples of those situations. What I'm talking about is the million hurts and pains people are victims of because of the careless nature and behavior of another. When we find resolution in these areas, situations that often can take on a life of their own, is when we grow as a person and create deeper and more meaningful relationships. It is easy to forget, but solidarity is often born out of suffering. When we empathize with another, when we suffer just a portion of what they have suffered is when we truly have the opportunity to move closer to that person. I like what Sting penned in the song King of Pain; "There's a little black spot on the sun today, It's the same old thing as yesterday." At the end of the day, that is just how some people feel when they are hurting and they are upset. We are better off if we realize, understand and empathize with this truth. 

APOLOGIZE: Romans 12:18 states; "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. The quickest way to improve a matter and the first major step to gaining reconciliation is to sincerely apologize for the wrong(s) you committed. This takes humility. An apology doesn't always lead to reconciliation or a resolution, but both of those outcomes are impossible without a heartfelt and sincere apology. Apologizing is the first step. Two of my favorite quotes on apology are: 

 An apology is a good way to have the last word.  ~Author Unknown

A stiff apology is a second insult.... The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt. 
~G.K. Chesterton

Both statements are very good, and very true, when it comes to the concept of apologizing. It takes a big person to apologize; it takes an even bigger person to accept one. 

Humility is the key, and is required, in both situations.

In order for a tree to grow it needs many things, but one of the most important things it needs is wind. The wind is important because it causes the roots to grow deeper and stronger, without wind we would have no trees. 

This past weekend was one of those wind/tree moments for me. The words were a little hard to hear and the comfort level was a little less than what I would like to experience on a daily basis. To use a meteorological term, it was more than a little windy.

But because of this experience I grew. I realized the importance of not causing another person pain, and I also learned the importance of acknowledging, accepting and apologizing when I cause hurt in another's life.

The offense wasn't catastrophic, but the lesson was paramount.

sbb  29.12.10



Erica said...

Fantastic. I think it is so important to 'walk in the other person's shoes'. Sometimes I overthink things when I do that because I over rationalize but I do believe it is important to try to understand what others are feeling. Sometimes I really wonder if empathy is genetic or learned.
Love the line by Chesterson, too.

sbb said...

Erica... I'm glad you liked the piece... btw, I think empathy is learned... often from our parents.