Recently, I was talking to a professional about people who had upset me. I was taken aback when she asked about my role in each situation. Okay, it was more like outrage! I was plodding the righteously well-worn path of what others had ‘done to me’ and she had the audacity to ask what I’d done!
Among the outrage was curiosity. Mostly as to why someone would ask that but it was curiosity nevertheless. That short question has fundamentally changed my thoughts about myself, those people and the situations.
She asked me to describe one of the situations and here’s how it went:
I was at a barbeque with about six others. I was having a conversation with someone about my experience of the justice system. Another person interrupted with, ‘Lets not talk about that rubbish.” Usually, that comment would feel rude but overall insignificant. However, timing ensured it cut close to the bone and my feelings were beyond hurt. It occurred shortly after the trial for my father’s murder. Recent and raw, he had dismissed and trivialised my experience and my right to share it.
The next question I was asked, “Was it your barbeque?” No, it wasn’t. “Why were you at the barbeque?”
Whoa. It dawned on me. I didn’t want to be there in the first place. That was my role in it! I had put myself in that situation. Was the guy insensitive? Yes. Did he make me go to the barbeque? No. Did I know what he was like before going to the barbeque? Yep.
Crikey. Realisations on my role in hurt I received from this person were making me think about how I perceive others’ wrong doings.
The more questions I answered the more clarity I gained. The conclusion was that I’d attended the barbeque because a friend wanted me there. I didn’t want to go because I knew what this guy was like, how insensitive he could be and how sensitive I was at that time. But I didn’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings by refusing. I didn’t speak up and I put her needs in front of my own. I hadn’t realised that’s what I do.
We ran through several other ‘hurts’ to examine my role and a pattern appeared. In fact, a few patterns came to the fore.
Deep breath in. At my age, I had learned a lesson to live by. I suppressed my thoughts and words when I needed to express them. I prioritised others’ needs before my own. This put me in vulnerable positions where I could be hurt because I was already weakened by my choices.
Deep breath out. The knowledge of how I was operating has provided more choice in difficult situations. I don’t have to go along with what is put before me. I can have input and make good decisions.
My inner voice has always been there. I’ll trust her now.