Hurt people hurt people

Read that headline twice. Do you get it? Confusing as it may seem, that sentence conveys an important truth in life.

People who are hurting, who have been hurt, who are carrying unhealed wounds — these people often behave like injured animals and lash out at others around them. Having been hurt themselves, they abuse and mistreat others. It is a nasty cycle.

We learn from a young age how to treat others, and we begin early to train people how to treat us. Dysfunction, family violence and poor boundaries are breeding grounds for pain and bitterness. Without adequate role models, young people recreate what they know.

As they grow up, their low expectations of others create space for misbehavior. Hurt people give themselves and others permission to behave badly. They get something out of it, even if just the familiar feeling of being hurt physically or emotionally, of knowing that they are still alive.

The real or psychic pain may eventually become too great, however. The hurt person may become ready to treat that tender, aching wound. It hurts more at first to wash and clean the wound, to pull out the splinters that have caused the infection.

The injured person may wonder if the removal is really necessary, if she mightn’t be better off just leaving well enough alone.

Once the wound is treated, though, and bandaged and the person begins to recover, she realizes that she has a clarity of mind and more energy than she had before to focus on taking care of herself and the others around her that she loves. She can stop focusing on her pain and start focusing on her healing.

This is how the cycle of hurt and hurting is ended. Each person pulling out splinters, resetting broken bones, and carefully washing and wrapping wounds or providing love, strength and guidance through the healing process plays a powerful role.

One less hurt person to cause more pain.


Become a friend to yourself

A leadership coach recently challenged me to identify my core beliefs. The exercise proved to be revelatory for me as my values and self-identity were shaken and then affirmed in the process.

Core beliefs are those assertions we hold deeply about ourselves and the world around us. On the surface level, we may say that we like who we are or that we are proud of ourselves, but closer examination sometimes reveals that these sentiments are not deeply rooted.

Many of us are not satisfied with the person we were created to be. We dislike our appearance, the amount of intelligence we believe we have, the words that come out our mouth. We even resist our gifts in the pursuit of trying to be someone that we are not.

The terms self-esteem and self-confidence are thrown about and may be considered synonyms. They are not entirely the same, however. We may be confident about our ability to perform a task but not have healthy self-esteem in the core of who we are. We are confident people lacking a full understanding of our self-worth.

Quiet meditation allowed me to reconnect with who I am and who I want to be. My talents and ethical foundation became clear to me while drafting my core beliefs.

Facing our innermost foundation is a frightening task. Doubts play in our mind. The process of reflection, however, enables us to be honest with ourselves and clarify our hopes and expectations.

Like a friend, we lovingly point out areas of strength and areas for improvement. In writing out our core beliefs, we can act as a friend to ourselves.