Why do people hurt us?
It is around 4 30 AM and I’ve barely had any sleep. My eyes are bloodshot and swollen. I keep recanting the gory details of what went down. Trying to make sense and find meaning amidst all this pain and devastation. I will eventually heal and go about my day just as I perhaps was before all this chaos ever happened. But I doubt that’s even the point, right now.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not here to tell you my sad story or try to find pity or even sympathy. I’m not here to blame anyone either. I’m here because I’m hurt. I feel betrayed. Perhaps I should be used to it by now seeing as I’ve always been hurt way too easily. I can very easily look at my overtly sensitive personality and hide under its feathers. But that’s not going to help me either. Not that being sensitive is wrong. On the contrary, I find that my insights are because I’m blessed with a personality that allows me to think in-depth. That’s why I’m here. I have a very simple question to ask you right now. A question we’ve often asked rhetorically and whose answers are made to be quite redundant. Isn’t it how it always works? Perhaps, yes. It does. Perhaps, it’s the way of life. People come, stay, people hurt us.
But I don’t find myself quite appeased with this response. Although I choose to accept this philosophy, as it allows me to move on. But I find myself extremely torn each time a gush of hurtful memories come by. I then, cannot help but ask this very question I ask you here today.
Why do people hurt us?
Maybe you have the answer to this. Maybe you do not and have been burdened with the same thought. As a Psychologist, I’m trained to rely on my knowledge and the experience I’ve gained by working with people who’ve often asked me the same question, during their moments of despair. I’m trained to empathize and make sense of brutality in a manner that resembles compassion. I will confess today that however unfair it may appear, this education combined with my training and experience has helped answer most of the questions, that life has failed to deliver.
Based on that experience and knowledge I’m going to attempt to make sense of this simple question, ‘Why do people hurt us?’
There are so many words I can use to make sense of this question, Insecurity, jealousy, sense of superiority, trauma and experience, judgment, detachment, fear of loss, fear of love, fear of pain, lack of self-worth, unhappiness, lack of acceptance, comparison… and so much more.
I’m sure, this is something you’ve assumed as well. In complete honesty, I do not know if this is intentional or unintentional. I do not know if this is something inherent or learned. There is no way to determine this accurately.
I’m completely aware of this fact that it doesn’t justify their behavior, the words they choose to speak, the hands that were raised in anger, the judgments they formed and passed, the voice that was raised, the way they chose to bully you, torture you… but that’s not why I chose to talk about this today.
It’s so easy to have doubts each time we are hurt. It’s easy to feel ashamed and embarrassed and insulted each time someone chooses to hurt us. It’s not about whose fault it was or even about an apology. It’s about how they made you feel at that moment.
But what if, you are not to be blamed for it?
What if it’s not your fault?
But this is something I’ve understood and know to be true, whatever their reason, it has nothing to do with you. Yes, people hurt us. Their behavior can leave us devastated for a long time. It can bear scars on our souls and skin forever. Yes, we may have to live with them forever. Of course, it’s never going to be okay or the same. But it’s not your fault. You are never to be blamed.
I’ve unfortunately been on the other side and I have hurt my loved ones gravely. This is why I try as much as I can to not be extremely black and white. Try to be more sympathetic than judgmental. Which is why I’m okay to offer second chances. Forgive just as quickly. I learn from my mistakes quite often and then grow and not try to repeat them.
I’m aware that not everyone will choose to or want to change or mend their ways. They may pretend for a while then fail miserably. And sometimes it is best for the sake of your sanity to walk away, maintain the necessary distance, draw boundaries, control your emotions and feelings – you always have that choice.
I refuse to believe that people are born evil. I refuse to accept that they can never change. But maybe, it is not my responsibility to go through and bear the brunt of their behavior just the same.
I am truly sorry if you were ever hurt, physically, emotionally, mentally. If you had to endure that pain at any given point in your life. If it made you question your sanity or worth. If despite it all, you didn’t receive a proper apology. I truly am sorry if you were hurt in ways that will take a long time to heal.
But I do hope you find some solace in this fact that when people hurt, it says more about them than it does about you. I hope you find a way to forgive yourself for punishing yourself and causing further pain than you’ve already succumbed to.