Sometimes, we can get hung up on a phrase or a thought by not tuning in to the intention one has when delivering it. For instance, we hear someone say a word we don’t like, and we immediately have a knee-jerk reaction without listening to the point or context of what they are saying. In reality, the intention behind someone’s words or actions is what’s most important in any given situation. For instance, someone can laughingly say something potentially inflammatory without malicious intent, to discover it had been interpreted as offensive by the listener. Personally, I think it’s crucial to be able to understand someone’s intent above all else throughout any conversation prior to reacting to anything they say. This can be hard, as we humans don’t always say exactly what we mean. We can be cryptic, vague, and frankly hard to understand at times.
It’s helpful to remember when you feel offended by someone that it’s unlikely they were deliberately trying to hurt you.
Added to this, we are living in a time where emotions tend to run high, many are chronically on edge, and connection can be difficult. This can all amplify miscommunications as well as our doubts and insecurities very quickly.
When I get hurt by someone, I like to step away and meditate and/or be alone with my thoughts for a while to reflect on why exactly I got upset.
It’s helpful to remember when you feel offended by someone that it’s unlikely they were deliberately trying to hurt you. This happens to all of us. I tend to take things very personally upon first reaction to something. But then, I have to stop and think on what was said to me. When I get hurt by someone, I like to step away and meditate and/or be alone with my thoughts for a while to reflect on why exactly I got upset. I try to consider the following questions in these situations:
- Why did they say that to me? What was their intention? (I bet, if you really begin to dive down deep into why someone said something to you that hurt your feelings, they likely had your best interest in mind and were trying to help you. And if that’s the case, wouldn’t it be wise to forgive them and move forward?)
- Does it bother me enough to have a conversation with them about it? (If not, then it’s best to breathe it out and let it go, as there’s no need to be hung up on any negativity that you may have felt due to someone else’s actions. If it does bother you enough to speak with them about it, then go for it! I tend to be extremely honest about my feelings with everyone, and if you think speaking your truth will help the situation, then why not go for it?)
- How will they respond if I bring this up to them? What’s the best way to speak with them about the situation? (If you’d like to speak to the person about your feelings, it’s likely that they are close to you. So, consider how they might respond and what the best approach to speaking with them might be).
Most things we attribute to malice are actually misunderstood intentions.
Going forward, I hope that you, like me, will meditate on the thought of trying to understand people’s intentions more. What can seem malicious—like someone cutting you off in traffic—may just be someone desperately trying to get over because they didn’t see their turn approaching. Most things we attribute to malice are actually misunderstood intentions. So, I challenge you to really analyze someone’s intentions the next time you find yourself offended by them. By taking this one small step at a time, you will likely see the world in a different way. That’s been my focus recently and, honestly, it’s made a world of a difference in my life.