Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. ~ C. G. Jung ~
One of the hardest things to do is not have an opinion about anything. But, what you may not think about is that to have an opinion is to judge. I had a conversation with someone a while back. We were talking about topics regarding family. At one point she said to me, “I try not to judge. I just offer my opinion”. To that, I said, “To have an opinion is to judge”. She became quiet for a few seconds. I went on to say, that’s the thing people don’t realize. By definition, opinion and judgement mean the same thing. Sometimes, people seem to believe that if they use the “softer” word or what sounds kinder, it somehow doesn’t mean the same thing as the “harder” or “harsher” word.
Listening to her, I could tell she believed she meant well and even perhaps did well to offer only an opinion. I wish I could tell you I got through to her. Sometimes we can have conversations with others and they are merely being kind hearing us out. In the end, we’ve done nothing to change their mind. That doesn’t remove the fact that she has a good heart. She will pretty much help just about anyone she thought would benefit from whatever source of help she could offer.
With our conversation in mind and some more recent events, I’m painfully and, it sometimes seems, constantly reminded that what we might want for someone else is not necessarily what they want for themselves. That reality can prove to be very hurtful when someone lashes out at you for having your “opinion”. That’s because, while you’d choose to say it’s the softer word which is somehow supposed to be less hurtful or offensive, the receiver hears the harder or harsher word. You’re judging them!
This is where it can get real ugly real quick. You end up feeling like you butted in where no-one invited you to go. It’s a real sensitive issue. We simply cannot get others to see our point of view just because we offer it. It can backfire. The worst of it is, once full blown anger steps in, there really is no opportunity to explain. No matter what is said, if you even get a chance to chime in, it is too late. The only focus now is on what you said, not what you meant or that you wholeheartedly meant well.
Now; in defense, some hurtful things get said to you. In defense, you might say some hurtful things in return. Some of it you’ve thought all along. You had no intentions of ever saying it though. Not out loud; to anyone and certainly not now. Some of it came from no-where, without warning. But, it’s out now. Nobody’s words can be taken back. Sadly; nobody’s words will be forgotten.
You can sometimes love some people so much that it goes without saying that you want nothing but the best for them. You don’t always know that they will not be receptive to what you are trying to say or what your wish is for them. You learn quickly that you are perceived as not minding your business. Yet, depending on who the person is, your relationship to one another might be the very thing that gave you the courage to speak in the first place.
I have had more than one episode during my lifetime where I made the big mistake of thinking I would tell the person what no-one else was willing to. The strength; always because of our relationship to each other. Of course, it’s always been to help not hurt. But, by the time they finish ripping through you from one side and coming out on the other side of you, you are nothing less than emotionally seriously bruised.
This is where things get said back and forth. Maybe things get said that nobody will be able to take back later. Now; your best of intentions are a thing of the past. You can find yourself walking away without being able to explain, apologize for being misunderstood or even for saying anything in the first place.
I’d like to tell you to try to do better sizing up who you can be straightforward with and who you can not. But, I already know that you would probably tell me you’ve never said anything to anyone you didn’t believe you had a strong enough relationship with that it would never lead to outburst of anger or rage. I’d only be able to tell you I relate.
I understand because I’ve been in that situation myself. Knowing full well nothing I was saying was intended to become anything so ugly, I couldn’t possibly say it was ever with intentions to provoke anyone. Yet, by they time they finish with their attack mode, you end up numb, wondering what in the hell just happened. You quickly realize it wouldn’t matter how you said it, what tone you used, etc. It was inevitable the person would blow up at you.
This causes indefinite strain. In some instances, it can be long-term or even lifetime damage. The relationship just never really gets back to what it used to be. It’s so, so sad! Nobody wants to lose a relationship with someone you love with all your heart. Nobody wants to lose a member of their tight circle, especially if your circle is tiny to begin with.
You can’t want for someone that which they have no interest in for themselves. Only if and when they get to a different place in life can you have a chance of them returning one day to say they finally get what you were trying to say. The problem with one day is that time lost can be costly. Things will never be quite the same.
It’s a very hard lesson. Sometimes it’s just best to say nothing at all. Sounds so simple, right? I know! It’s not so simple when you believe if you speak you will help, encourage or inspire a change in someone. Believe me when I tell you, the long-term damage is just not worth it. It’s really better to just keep that opinion to yourself. Keep loving your loved one or whomever the relationship is with.
Unless the issue is brought to you by them, nothing you say will be any less than judgement. Harsh judgement! Still, the outcome may not be pleasant. It’s not always about the delivery. It’s sometimes about the receiver of the information. People often have a very hard time hearing and accepting what does not feel good, even if it’s true. You end up feeling as if there is a consequence for caring. I don’t know who came up with “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. I do know that is false.
You’ve got the floor…
Have you ever had a situation that you meant well but it was not received well by the other person? How did you get through it? Did everything turn out better with time? Please leave a comment to share your thoughts.