We tend to focus on what others do to us. We live in a confrontational way. It is “me vs the boss”, “me vs the neighbour”, “me vs my partner”, “me vs the world”.
It is true that a good way to understand who we are is figuring out who we are not. Yet focusing solely and repeatedly on the behaviour of others flattens our worldview.
We end up finding patterns when we should appreciate differences, and putting the same label on very different types of circumstances.
“I have been hurt”. “I have been misunderstood”. “I have been offended”. “I have been treated unfairly”.
A way to get out of this loop is the following. The next time we feel somebody is doing something wrong to us, let’s first ask “when is the last time I did something similar myself?“. “When is the last time I have hurt somebody, misunderstood somebody, offended somebody, treated somebody unfairly?”. And then “why did I do that?”.
None of us is inherently a bad human being, if we are honest with our own behaviour and motives, we might get a very different perspective on why things happen, and even what is actually happening. And find that our narratives are harming us and others too.
Post scriptum: as I was writing, I felt the need to differentiate between day-to-day disagreements and petty disputes we have with the people around us (that is what this post is about), and abuse. Physical, mental, emotional abuse is never right, and if you are a victim of that, you should never for a moment believe that the person responsible has any good reason to do what they are doing.