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Are we the stewards of others' feelings?
I stole the wording of the question’s title from another user. I hope she doesn’t mind the plagiarism.
I am feeling my way through this question, so please, bear with me. This may take a bit, or it may turn out to be brief.
In the adventure I call my life, I have had many upsets in the last 8 or 9 months. I’ve had a number of endings that have been painful. Simultaneously, I’ve had some wonderful experiences that have opened doors for me, which have been both unexpected and marvelous.
It has been a period of transitions. I had a wretched time when I was attacked and accused of overstepping my authority in a community event I had a position of fiduciary responsibility in. The attack left me feeling very low indeed. All responsible parties met, and we ironed out the differences. Still, the low continued.
In another professional setting, a group member who fell under my direction complained to me about my work. I thanked him for his honesty and owned my part in the situation, apologizing. I felt very bad I had caused him to be ill at ease.
Finally, I learned through a third party that I was no longer friends with someone whom I’d counted as a good friend. That hurt. I lost a friend, and I found out through the grapevine. After discussing it with a wise person, I came to realize if I get a chance to discuss the matter with the former good friend, I have to limit my words to “That hurt.” I can’t explain further, because I would then be making statements to put the former good friend on the defensive.
I have just shared some very personal matters not to look for solutions for those specific instances, but perhaps to shed light on something I do not truly understand.
How far does any individual’s power to hurt go?
When speaking, where does the speaker’s responsibility for the words stop, and where does the listener’s responsibility for interpreting them begin?
Using my recent list of losses as an example, I don’t believe I am responsible for hurtful words and actions projected at me. I am not responsible for the emotions that occurred either. Emotions happen. They just are.
I am responsible for what I do with those emotions. I am also responsible for how long I hold on to them, too.
How concerned should each person be about the effect their words and actions will have on others?
(Lest anyone be afraid my life has been a series of abjectly sorrowful losses for the past 8 or 9 months, let me assure them such is not the case. I have completed an important job training, and I am applying for a dream job. My future is very bright.)