Always is a Choice…

The Mills Brothers hit song “You Always Hurt the One You Love” has been performed by many artists over the years, each putting their own unique spin and style on the message. Unfortunately, far too often, the sentiment proves true. Many people do hurt the ones they love the most. The question is why?

There are many possible reasons why (here are just a few):

  • We have much greater access to the ones we love. More access than we do with our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and of course, strangers. Since we interact with them more often, and more intimately, it gives us additional opportunities—be it intentional or unintentional—to hurt them. 
  • We know them well. Over time, as we’ve grown closer, we’ve been exposed to their strengths, weaknesses, opinions, victories, defeats, and political leanings, and as such, we can say and do things we know will annoy, anger, agitate, alarm or disappoint them. 
  • We know their hot buttons and how they will react when pushed. We know what words, actions, and experiences would agitate them the most, and we can decide whether or not to use that information to incite them.
  • We’re interacting with an extremely needy person and they are using us as a relief valve for their own stress, anger, unresolved issues, fear, depression and numerous other areas such as reliving past failed relationships.
  • Hurt people, hurt people.          

So, how do we break the cycle?  By choosing to make purposeful decisions. Real problems sometimes require real solutions such as outside intervention in the form of counseling, group support and/or assessment by a qualified professional. By choosing to love (which includes trust, respect, intimacy, passion, communication and commitment) and admire the ones we love and care for instead of inflicting or inciting hurt or pain upon them. We can be more aware of those around us and learn why we lash out and ask them to inform us immediately if they feel we are hurting them in any way (so that we can assess and learn from the situation and correct our behavior).   It means we must exercise intentional self-control at the precise moment the choice faces us —to hurt, or not to hurt and make no mistake, it is a choice. We must own our behavior and promptly make amends (as the situation warrants).  It never hurts to take a moment to walk away and gather ourselves and our emotions. The more we model healthy behaviors for others, the more it will become the norm and we can modify the words of the song to… “We sometimes hurt, the ones we love” because no one is perfect and mistakes will be made, even when we have the best of intentions.

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