Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs. Proverbs 19:11 NLT – Good sense makes one slow to anger and it is their glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11 ESV
OK, so this sounds well and good but how many of us are able to actually do what it says? As the scriptures say, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”.
I cannot speak for everyone of course, but I know that many times I’m not sensible. I like many of us: React. Someone speaks hurtful words, emotions rise, and we become offended. And much of the time that can set us into a tail spin! WE’RE HURT and by golly someone is going to pay! This I believe is a result of growing up in an environment of anger, strife, bitterness and unforgiveness. These are attributes we have learned at some time in our lives. You may be saying (and I have too) I’m a New Creation in Christ Jesus! Yes, we are! Our newly created spirits know and understand this BUT our flesh made up of all kinds of emotions has no clue what that means. It must be taught. Again, and again and again.
I believe before we can ever change or improve in our reaction process when offended – we MUST get to the root! This can take time and can be layers upon layers of wounds. From childhood to present. This began with me about 30 years ago when a friend gave me an excerpt from a book that helped me tremendously titled: Co-Dependent No More – How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself. The author Melody Beattie helps us to peel back the layers and expose the painful and traumatic things we had gone through or are currently experiencing now. I remember writing pages and pages of painful things of my past that literally resulted in a miraculous emotional healing. Things I went through as a child, teenager and young adult. This I believe was one of Jesus ways (at least for me) help heal my broken heart.
It doesn’t matter who we are - we can be free from past hurts and pain and we can in a healthy manner deal with any new situations that can arise with family, friends or co-workers. Even people at church.
In a recent article, “10 Ways to Not Let People’s Words and Opinions Hurt You” I found a number of things I agreed with in dealing with hurtful things that others say and how too often we react and lash back by saying things we otherwise wish we had not said. I like to look at it this way: if someone is pecking at you, chances are you’re going to peck back. It’s a natural reaction, a safety mechanism that we do to protect ourselves. But it’s not healthy for any relationship and can become toxic if we’re not careful.
Following are a few excerpts I’ve chosen from the article that I believe many of us can benefit from:
It usually isn’t about you
Hurt people hurt people (as a friend of mine used to say). People who are saying these words to us usually are experiencing a negative emotion themselves, which is causing them to hurt on the inside. Some people are able to process that pain, but people often react to it before responding appropriately; lashing out at others, taking a higher or lower position relative to others, and sometimes saying unskillful things out of anger.
Words mean different things to each of us
We are all trying our best to communicate these mysterious sensations in our bodies called emotions using an agreed upon means of communication (language). Language is nuanced, complex, and not universal. We all have different meanings and value we place on certain words. Some words for us have more emotional charge than others because of what we’ve experienced in the past or connotations we have heard them used in.
So if you’re human, you’ve likely allowed the words to land and hurt you. Emotions are largely uncontrollable to the extent that they will occur whether we want them to or not. As I’m learning, however, this doesn’t mean you have to act on the emotions that are arising. Rather, it is okay to simply watch them come up, fill your body, and eventually they will dissolve. A reaction to them happens, only because we don’t have the self-awareness and presence of mind to stop ourselves from reacting, and instead, witnessing the emotion rising and falling.
Notice the wound inside
The words and opinions land, they have hurt you, and you unfortunately forgot to just witness them and abruptly reacted to the other person, perhaps throwing a few resentful and hurtful words back at them. Now what? A great suggestion I received was to notice the wounded place in each of us.
Notice that the person who is saying these words to you is speaking from a wounded place, and notice your reaction to them is from your own wounded place. In their wound, perhaps they have an unmet need, unfulfilled expectation, or past unresolved trauma that is causing them to react in this way; perhaps they weren’t loved, didn’t have good role models, or were spoken to in an abusive way. The point is the disappointment and hurt they feel is coming from somewhere, so try to understand it and empathize.
Speak your truth
By being able to see the wounded place in the other, we are then able to see the wounded place in ourselves. Why did that person’s words hurt you?…We must look into our own wounds to see where they stem from, why what the other person is saying to us is affecting us, and look for what we can learn from this. Usually, they are just digging into a wound that already exists. So instead of making them liable for the entire wound, I find it is more valuable to look at your wound and honestly share with them where it came from, why what they are saying to you isn’t helping you to heal that wound, and what you need to do so.
Put both wounds on the dissection table
With a view to the other person’s wounded place, and a gentle approach to your own, you are then able to put both yours and the other person’s wound out on the table. Together, you are able to look at your own, and theirs, from different angles, for the purpose of fostering understanding and acceptance.We all have wounds, and often words and the way people say them unintentionally hurt us. Looking at them together helps build, forgive, and move on from the words that were said. Once we get to the root of our wounds, we often see that we all have wounds, and we are all innocent for holding on to them, not forgiving those for causing them, and not ever having the opportunity to heal them.
I would like to elaborate a bit on a few points mentioned in the excerpt above:
Emotions: I found the authors point very interesting when he said, “Emotions are largely uncontrollable to the extent they will occur whether we want them to or not”. I agree. Growing up I’d hear someone say, “that makes my blood boil!” That my friend is the Rise of emotion/anger. After reading this I have a new found understanding of such emotions and how powerful they are. I cannot tell you how many times someone has said something hurtful and how I felt either great pain or anger at that person for saying what they said. As a child I had good teachers. What I mean is members in my family were very practiced at this React phase. I grew up hearing many hurtful words being said to and from those that I loved. I came from a family that was very wounded. Now, as I’m getting older I do my best to leave the room if need be, cool off, and allow those peeking emotions to fall and come back with a much more calm and peaceful attitude to discuss the situation and allow the healing process to begin.
Wounds: We all have them. If we live in a body and live with or are around other humans we are going to get hurt. Like the author said, many times it’s unintentional. But none the less it happens. And what I have found is this: Forgiveness is the only way to healing. I believe not only emotional healing but physical healing as well. The scriptures say that “Bitterness rots the bones.” But thank God he has provided a way that we can all live in health and it comes through confessing our wrongs (sins) not only to God but to those we have hurt. The scriptures say, “Confess your faults one to another so that you may be healed”. James 5. And, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confessing our wrongs and forgiving others who have wronged us promotes health, healing and wholeness.
We can all learn to forgive one another. We can also learn to communicate with one another without tempers flaring. Even if it’s through letters. I find writing very therapeutic. It helps to keep emotions at bay and allows us to tell the other person how we’re feeling. This has been one of the most successful ways that have helped me over the years to get my feelings out without hurting the other person with my words. When I do this first, I find it much easier to talk it out in a calm and peaceful manner.
Our Goal? Talk. Forgive. Heal.
Bear with each other and forgive any complaint you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13.
Be Kind and tenderhearted to one another, forgive each other just as in Christ, God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32.
Get Help! If you or someone you know is in physical danger due to an abusive relationship, dial 911! There also may be local Hotlines in your area that can help provide you with shelter. Your local police will have that information.