Be careful with your words.
They have an impact you can’t always see and lingering effects that can take some time to surface.
Not too long ago, someone I loved and cared for deeply lashed out at me from a place of hurt and abandonment. Their words were harsh and unkind, that unique flavor of petty cruelty people dish out when they’re not getting what they want—when the fear and grief are too heavy. This person weaponized things I’d entrusted to them against me and used what they knew would break my heart the most.
I knew they were lashing out, so it didn’t hit me in the moment.
Plus, I wanted to do what I do best:
Hold space for someone else’s experience and pain and not take it on. Address what was real and present beneath the slew of hurtful comments and overwhelming anger. Be understanding of what’s happening and where it’s coming from.
But even though the conversation ended with peace and kindness all around, their words began slowly seeping into my heart and soul.
I didn’t internalize the cruelty because I knew much of it came purely from an intention to “hurt me back” and wasn’t necessarily their truth. It was the fact they said those things and sank to that level at all that started landing over the following weeks. And inside of that reality coming into focus, I felt drawn to distance myself.
It’s a lesson I’ve spent my whole life learning:
To stop making excuses for other people’s bad behavior.
Understanding doesn’t mean tolerating.
And we’re never obligated to keep people in our life (in any capacity) when they behave in damaging ways.
We can understand that it was from a place of hurt and that they’re sorry and didn’t mean it… and still choose not to have them in our life.
We can understand that the people who love (or loved) us most are the ones most likely to revert to petty cruelty and use our deepest fears and wounds against us to cause pain at times… and still choose to never open our heart to them again.
We can forgive them for their words and actions… and not forget that it’s a level they can drop to when they don’t get what they want from us.
We can have the skill not to internalize their harmful commentary… and still choose to set boundaries because of the damage from their actions.
This person no longer has a pass to my life.
Not after that, no matter how understanding I am of why it happened.
Because what I’ve also learned over the years is that people who result to petty cruelty in times of hurt often haven’t done some of the essential healing and growth work that allows them to elevate their emotional intelligence and skill.
They don’t have the ability to pause before they react.
They don’t have the capacity to simply say that they feel hurt.
They don’t have the skill to make requests around what they want.
Instead, they attack and try to cause pain because that’s what they’re feeling.
Can people like this change?
Yes, of course.
But that’s the thing about our words; they have an impact. This person can go on to change and be better able to use their words productively vs. with cruelty when they feel hurt or abandoned. Still, I’m no longer interested in finding out if they will use my vulnerabilities and feelings against me in such unkind ways again.
I’m no longer interested in being vulnerable with them at all.
We’re allowed to be imperfect, messy humans. Goodness knows I am!
And we have to understand that what we say and do has an impact—that we have to be careful with our words.
Cause and effect. If my messiness and lack of grace impact someone so deeply that they aren’t willing to extend trust my way anymore, I 100% understand that.
I believe trust can be rebuilt, but not everyone wants to do that work. Not after certain things are said and done, and we’re not owed more chances just because we feel sorry for the effect of the causes we carelessly put in motion.
Be careful with your words.
They have an impact you can’t always see.
And sometimes, it’s not the words themselves but the fact that people will sink into a state so harmful that they’d ever choose to say those things and feel righteous and entitled to do so. Sometimes it’s the lack of skill and grace that creates an effect we can’t undo. Sometimes it’s so damaging that there’s no more option for repair.
If you’re struggling to let go of someone who was careless with your experience and emotions, stay tuned.
I’ve been writing about this A TON lately, and most of it’s going into my upcoming Love Note! This will be available as a digital or printed booklet, along with a supportive AcuSesh recording to help re-pattern your beliefs around loving, losing, and letting go. Get on the list below, so you don’t miss it!