Sunday, September 18, 2005

Chapter 10

IF YOU HAVE A CHOICE, DON'T CHOOSE TO BE HURT

There are times in life when you are hurt and there is nothing you can do about it but endure. There are times when you are hurt and you have to take action to keep from being hurt more. But there are times when you have a choice. Whether someone is trying to hurt you or whether what someone says or does hurts you even though they don’t mean to, there are times when you can choose how you take what they are saying or doing, when you can choose to be hurt or not.

The first time I consciously chose not to be hurt, it was because I wanted to stay in the “game”. The people who cared about me suspected that I was “out of my league”. They didn’t want me to play if I was going to get hurt and I knew it wouldn’t be fair to expect them to patch me up if I did. Because I wanted to play so badly, I just decided not to let the person I was playing with hurt me. He did “win” and I did “lose”. There was a price to pay. But it was such an honor to be allowed to play at that level, I learned so much, and the game was so much fun, I never regretted it because of that. Sometimes, you know, when you play with the “big boys”, the “big boys” whoop you bad!

I tried to do things I had never done before in order to learn, to grow, to be who I wanted to be. I risked failure (big, splashy failure). I put myself out where there was no one to help me because the people I would have normally relied on didn’t know if I could do it either and had never done it themselves. Out on my own in that beautiful, exciting, dangerous place, I figured out what things you need to keep from being hurt. They turn out to be the same things you need to keep from being hurt in everyday life, doing the things you normally do in places where you expect to be safe, but where things happen, too.

You have to know who you are. You have to know who you want to be. You have to think about what you are doing and do what you do on purpose. You have to know what your motivations are. You have to do the right thing. You have to know what your strengths are and how to use your strengths. You have to know what your weaknesses are and how to compensate for your weaknesses. You have to see how to succeed at your goal and know that you can.

To achieve your goals, you need help from other people. You have to be honest about your goals. You have to say what you intend to do and do what you say. You have to ask for what you want. You have to be honest about the risks to other people if they help you. You have to pay attention to what is happening. You have to adapt when things don’t go as planned. You have to warn people when they are in danger and help them adapt.

When you fail, you have to accept it, admit it, and pay the price. You have to let the people who tried to help you pay the price, too, even though that is often harder than paying the price yourself. When you succeed, you have to generously acknowledge the help you got and share the rewards. Whether you succeed or fail, you have to keep pursuing your goals, learning, and growing.

If you do all those things, you don’t have to be hurt, even if you take great risks and fail. You can learn what you need to learn from failure without losing the things you need the most to succeed (your self-respect, self-trust, and the respect and trust of others). You can listen to the criticisms that are true and adapt. You can listen to the criticisms that are not true and answer them, even though you were wrong about something else.

It seems natural to feel hurt if you are rejected, abandoned, betrayed, insulted, criticized, or ridiculed. But you don’t have to be. If someone says something that is negative and true about you and you already know it, you can just agree. They say, “You have a terrible memory.” You say, “You’re right.” If it is something that is necessary to achieve the goal and one of the weaknesses that you have had to compensate for, you can explain how you have compensated for it, “That’s why I write everything down.” If someone says something that is negative and not true about you, you can explain if you think they just don’t know. You can’t make them change their minds, but you can tell them. Sometimes, though, those are the times when it is not about you.

Of course, I have made it about me at times, by reacting badly. I have sulked, complained, and loudly criticized everything another person did to pay him back, going to ridiculous extremes. All that didn’t hurt him a bit, of course, it just confirmed for everyone else that he had been right about me. If I had chosen not be hurt, although I don’t know if I could have stopped him from doing what he set out to do that I didn’t like, I know that at least I wouldn’t have helped him make me look like an idiot so that he could do it.

Sometimes it seems like we feel hurt just because we think someone intends to hurt us. It is not what they say that hurts us, it is the fact that they say it. We all mostly observe the unwritten rule that, if you’re on my side, you will not say anything negative about me. Therefore, if you do say something negative about me, whether it is true or not, I think that you are no longer on my side, and that makes me sad. But you can refuse to be hurt just because you think someone wants you to be hurt. That is a choice that you can make.

Of course, if someone seems to be trying to hurt you, you might want to try to find out why they want you to be hurt. If someone is trying to get your attention, it is usually a good idea to give it to them. They might go away if you ignore them, which could be bad enough. But they might also escalate until it is hard to remember that you weren’t going to be hurt. Respond to the BB gun. Don’t make them think they need a howitzer.

A person who says something negative about you that is true may still be on your side. You need to know what your weaknesses are so that you can compensate for them. Sometimes they are hard for you to see yourself. A person who tells you about a weakness that you weren’t aware of does you a service. You can get people to help you that way by reacting to criticism that is true with gratitude. To do the right thing and achieve all your goals, you need people to tell you the truth, even if it is not always what you want to hear.

A person who says something negative about you that is not true also does you a service. You cannot correct a lie that you don’t know about. You can get people to help you that way by reacting to criticism that is not true with composure, information, and positive action. If you are so hurt or mad that you only make things worse, people will hesitate to tell you what you need to know.

It is hard to think about doing the right thing and achieving all our goals when we are hurt. Although we sometimes wish other people could make us feel better, getting over a hurt is something we usually do alone. It takes a lot of energy. And it seems like we never really get over it completely. There’s always a scar there. Whenever possible, choose not to be hurt in the first place.

1 Comments:

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