That or When: Which is Important to You?

What really is important to you? Is it important that a person extends their love towards you or when they extend their love towards you?

When we’re hurt our initial response is to shut down and protect ourselves from anymore hurt. Our bodies and minds were designed to do that as a means of survival. Protecting ourselves from danger and death definitely has its place. If we are not able to respond to a threat of danger or death by protecting ourselves, we will not survive.

Well, let’s look at how well that works for us in relationships where we may very well experience hurt that is neither dangerous nor deadly. Our reaction, very often, is to shut the person out and build up a wall of resistance AND shut down so that if the wall doesn’t work, we are numb to anymore hurt. This may work for us at the moment that we feel hurt or disappointed, but what happens at the moment the same person that hurt us reaches out for forgiveness? Has the shutting out and shutting down become a way of living for us so much so that we shut everyone out to avoid future hurts and shut down and become numb and don’t feel any emotion, good or bad, at all?

How do these two defense mechanisms serve us when someone is offering forgiveness? How capable are we of recognizing love when it is extended to us? And how willing are we to receive and relish in it when it is offered? How receptive are we to forgiving if the person we are forgiving doesn’t ask for it immediately? Does it matter that the love was expressed or when it’s expressed? Are we willing to work through pain in order to receive love? Breaking through the walls that we build to protect ourselves is painful. It means that we are vulnerable, open, exposed, and raw and that we may have to relive hurts in order to be healed from them.

What can we do to be open to receiving love and offering forgiveness after we’ve been hurt?

1. TRUST ourselves to seek out and find love. TRUST our feelings and acknowledge them. TRUST our minds and our ability to see the truth.

2. REFLECT on the relationship that you have with the person and think about their intent. Was it their intention to hurt you? Could it have been a misunderstanding or mis-communication? Is it possible for the person to still love you in spite of what was done?

3. COMMUNICATE: TALK it over, WRITE a letter, and COMMUNICATE your feelings without blame or judgment. Express your feelings and wait for the person to validate them. If you judge or blame, the person will be defensive and there will be no resolution. Validation comes from an individual that loves you and sees you. They can put themselves in your shoes and understand why you feel the way you do. Validation is the precursor to resolution and forgiveness.

Hurt is something we cannot avoid. However, living our lives in anticipation or avoidance of hurt binds us up and limits our ability to let the goodness of love seep into our hearts and minds. Not being able to recognize and receive love keeps us from really experiencing life and it can affect our ability to survive, or … thrive.



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