Shield of Understanding

I was scrolling through old unpublished blog posts and stumbled across this one from exactly a year ago. I don’t even remember writing it; so much so that, as I was reading it this morning, it felt like I was reading someone else’s words.

These are words I needed to read this morning and I’m so grateful for this reminder to myself written almost exactly one year ago today. I’m so thankful for the peace that comes from being reminded shield myself with understanding when others hurt me – understand just as much as I need to let it go. And then, the hardest part, to let it go.

I’m going to publish this just as I found it; raw and unedited. My fingers itch to correct the spelling errors grammatical errors and confusing segues. But because even with its editorial issues, it spoke to me exactly what I needed to hear at this point in my life.

Sometimes things in life don’t go the way you expected and people disappoint and hurt us. Sometimes the only thing we can do is let it go and let it hurt. Sometimes it hurts more than you ever thought it could ever hurt. But a shield of understanding let’s you believe it’s all going to be ok and hurt doesn’t have to bring worry.

[E]xtend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words and actions of others. ~ Brene Brown

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Sometimes people hurt you. This is a part of life. When my children were in the nest, they would often come home with stories about other kids who said and did things that hurt them, both physically and emotionally. One of my treasured achievements parenting children through my raging and ever-consuming mental illness, is the advice I would give them when others hurt them. I remember always saying “No matter what has happened or what has been done, what do you think that person is feeling? What might be an obvious reason they are feeling this way? What do you think could have already happened to a kid at home or in life that would make them do those things? How can you protect yourself with this understanding?

When you can understand a person’s hurtful behavior toward you, you can take the sting out of it. You can empathize. You can deflect their with a shield of understanding…taking away their ability to leave you feeling wounded. And, maybe most importantly, you can forgive them and move on from the experience.

I know all of these things are truths…I’ve seen it evidenced time and time again as my children, under my advice, deflected, healed and turn around situations where others hurt them. I don’t keep emphasizing this “parental triumph” here as a self-accolade but rather as a self-observation. I raised my kids on that advice and strongly believe I made them stronger and more resilient with that advice, but for most of my life, I never followed my own advice.

I realized I haven’t been walking my own talk and it was a growing point for me. For the most part I’ve made significant improvements in my ability to rationalize away the things that would otherwise hurt me. Sometimes I still struggle…especially recently when I had to finally stop trying to understand, give up and walk away from the person hurting me.

Another piece of Dr. Suess advice I used to give my children comes to mind today: When you walk away from someone or someone walks away from you, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I am a pretty wise parent…maybe now I can learn how to translate that into being a wise person.