One of my many faults is that I can be a little too sensitive at times, a little too quick to take offense, and a little too quick to feel snubbed or excluded. I try to fight this by taking the time to step back whenever I feel hurt and analyze the situation objectively. I ask myself, “Did he really mean to say something hurtful?” Or “Did she really mean to exclude me?” The rational answer is usually no, so I just move on. And I sincerely hope that’s how my friends and family are handling it when I say and do something that hurts their feelings.
Although I never try to hurt other people, I know for a fact that I have. The other day I was hurrying out of a store in a strip mall when I ran into my old hair stylist standing on the sidewalk, chatting to a client. Although I really liked the man and had gone to him for years, I had grown tired of the way he cut my hair and couldn’t seem to convince him to cut it differently. I liked the way another friend’s hair looked, so I switched to her stylist a couple of years ago. That day I had been caught in heavy rain without an umbrella twice, so I new for a fact that my hair looked horrible, and that my old stylist would be sure to notice. Which is why I responded to his enthusiastic greeting with just a quick wave and veered away from him, crossing the parking lot at an awkward angle, in a painfully obvious attempt to avoid him. As I got in my car, I glanced back and saw him staring at me with a look of surprised hurt on his face. I had snubbed him horribly, and it had nothing to do with him at all. It was me not wanting to let my old stylist get a good look at me when I was having a very bad hair day.
That’s what I try to remember when I’m on the receiving end of someone else’s bad behavior. Chances are, the other person’s behavior has nothing to do with me and everything to do with whatever is going on in their life at that particular point in time. I like to think that if I had been having a better day when I ran into my old stylist, I would have approached him and said hello, nasty hair and all. But I’d been having a truly horrible day, and at the time I just didn’t have the strength to be gracious (or even polite), as much as I’m ashamed to admit it.
So when I’m the one who feels hurt or snubbed, I try to remember that the negativity probably has nothing more to do with me than my bad behavior had to do with my old stylist. That day, I was acting out of my own weakness, not out of any desire to hurt his feelings. And that’s usually the case when I’m the one whose feelings are hurt, too. Because, as hard as it can be for me to accept this truth, it really isn’t all about me.