I see it all the time. We just can’t help ourselves.  

Someone says something rude or cruel in the heat of the moment and we take the bait and we jump in and take offence and may say something rude and cruel back. And it’s on. The gloves go on and the conflict begins. And sometimes these conflicts can last for days, weeks, months and even years.

And the more stressed we are, the more likely that we are going to be sucked into this scenario.

We take the words and actions of another person about us very personally; and yet so often these words and actions have nothing to do with us.

When a person is stressed and in pain, they go inwards. They worry about themselves. They notice their own hurt, they feel like the world is happening to them, they are reactive.  They go into an increasingly victim state. The world of one. The world of me.

And they think it is unfair that they hurt so much. Why should they be the only person to suffer? So they lash out.  They want other people to hurt like they do. The reflect their pain and thoughts about themselves onto other people, usually the people the love the most. Because those people are the safest people in the world to attack.

And if we are in the firing line of this type of stressed out attack, and if we too are stressed, then we can very easily get “sucked in” and want to hurt them back.

When a toddler has a melt down we can usually very easily recognise that this a child that is overwhelmed by something in the moment and that this will pass. We just need to be patient and calm and make sure that they are safe and that we maintain our usual boundaries so that they know that they are safe.  But as adults, we often struggle to see that the person behaving badly is actually overwhelmed with stress; that they just need to have their melt down safely and they need your reassurance that everything is okay.

But it is so hard not to react to someone being so rude, so cruel.  So we all too often react and go down with them.

We need to remove ourselves from the space we are in if we find ourselves either feeling abusive towards someone or being abused.  We need to leave the room, the building or get out of the car. We need to walk and walk and calm down. We need some space. We can’t think straight when we are emotionally triggered.

And if words are said and pain caused; go back to the other person when things have calmed down and revisit the conversation. Get vulnerable and help the other person to understand what was going on for you in that moment. And they might get vulnerable too.

Don’t let a stressed out moment destroy a relationship.

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