Are you re-hurting people with your mistakes?

Oh, have you not heard the word re-hurting before? That’s because I just made it up. It should be a word though, because it’s absolutely something that happens often.

It comes out of a common scenario that generally feels awful.

Someone tells you that you’ve done something to hurt their feelings or you realize you’ve made a mistake. You apologize but have yet to master time traveling, so you can’t fix the fact that it happened. The person seems accepting of your apology and willing to move forward, but you’re still a wreck. You’re mad, sad, frustrated, embarrassed – or all of the above. You just want to feel better! So you don’t let it go. You continue to try to make up for it, or continuing discussing the issue even though the other person just seems over it. But regardless of what you try, nothing really works. It’s just a bad situation.

I think we’ve all been there at least once or twice.

It makes a lot of sense that you want to get rid of that icky feeling immediately. Who WOULDN’T?! But, are you doing it at the other person’s expense? It’s understandable, but it’s also super unfair.

You’ve already hurt the other person in some way. A mistake was mad, intentional or not, and that just sucks. The person might even know that you didn’t mean to! Most of us don’t mean to. I always think the response of “Well, I didn’t do it on purpose” is funny because that’s my default assumption. I sure hope you didn’t do it on purpose, close friend/family member/significant other, because if you did we’d be having a very different conversation.

Just because it was unintentional doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt.

It’s the worst when we make the people we care about, or even just people we interact with, feel badly. I’m with you in HATING that feeling. But the person you hurt can’t fix it for you – and you shouldn’t ask them to.

Admitting you made a mistake is really hard, and I give you a ton of credit if you’ve been in a situation where you’ve owned up to your error and delivered a sincere apology. It’s an emotionally exhausting situation and it makes so much sense if you need to show yourself a little extra love afterwards to make you feel better. You just can’t involve that other person.

If you do, you’re basically hurting them twice.

Not only are you asking someone to go through the emotional labor of having to share with you why you’ve made them feel badly, you’re wanting them to do the work of making you feel better for doing so. But also, you’re sorry? See how those things don’t really go together?

Having a difficult conversation like this with someone is really draining, so take care of yourself. Just do it on your own.

Do whatever you gotta do. Cry it out. Dance it out. Eat some pie. Talk to someone else in your life that you trust. Do it solo so you let the person you wronged heal as well.

Eventually, you’ll both move forward and all will be good! It’s worth the effort, as challenging as it is. I promise!

Relationships are hard! We can make sure yours are healthy. Schedule a free phone consult with a therapist today.

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