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When They Did That To You, It Wasn’t About You At All

What they did to you wasn’t about you at all.

While it may seem like they said it or did it to hurt you, punish you or humiliate you — what if it had nothing to do with you?

Our natural tendency is to make assumptions about another person’s actions, and personalize them and somehow make them about us.  We become insulted, offended or disgusted by what someone says or does, mostly because we believe it has to do with us and was intended purposely to hurt us.

But look beneath the surface.  The reason they did what they did wasn’t engineered to hurt you.  It was because they have a wound or pain inside they are trying to cope with, and it had nothing to do with you.

Even when it is something said or done directly against you, it has nothing to do with you.  But it’s easy to assume they said it or did it just to hurt us, and for no other reason.

This is rarely — if ever — the truth.

The truth is that when someone chooses to generate and spread more anger, fear and hate in talking about others, it is usually because they’re in pain.  Their own wound of some kind has been activated or aggravated, and that’s what drives them to say or do dishonest, mean or inappropriate things.

Yes, it hurts when someone tells the world a lie and your reputation is tainted.  But it’s incredibly helpful to hold the thought that what they’re saying isn’t about you.  It’s about a wound or pain they have inside themselves, and they’re flailing to try and soothe it. 

Sometimes it’s easier to strike out in anger (which is really just fear hiding behind a mask) than it is to face the wound or pain with love.

Make no mistake, everything you do (or someone else does) comes from one of two places — love or fear. 

The next time someone wrongs you — maybe says something that hurts, or behaves in a way that violates your sense of kindness, justice or honesty — ask yourself .. where are they acting from?

Is it from love, or from fear?

Rather than trying to imagine what’s going on inside them, I find it’s incredibly helpful for me to keep my KPI Filter in mind.

What’s what? 

When someone does or says something that hurts or triggers me, I take a few deep breaths, and ask myself .. what is the Kindest Possible Interpretation of this situation?

In other words, what could be the kindest possible reason or motivation that there may be, underlying the action or decision that this person has made?

It forces me to stop and think about the other person rather than someone trying to hurt me .. and instead, to see them as a human being that is likely coming from a place of fear in that moment.

What is the kindest assumption I can make about why they are behaving this way? 

Maybe they just learned of a loved one’s terminal illness diagnosis.  Perhaps they’re in the depths of depression or another gripping mental illness that makes living each day difficult.  Maybe they’ve lost someone or something close to them and they don’t how to properly process or grieve the loss.

Often times, the person doesn’t even realize what their underlying motivation is in what they are doing or saying.  It could be that you unknowingly triggered a deeper insecurity, wound or fear in them that literally has nothing to do with you — but because you were in their field of vision when it was triggered, their brain associated it with you. 

The triggered wound or insecurity actually has nothing to do with you, but the feeling comes up and gets associated with whatever you may have said or done.

Here’s the point:  Maybe what they did or said really had nothing to do with you.  So why punish yourself making assumptions when you don’t know any of it to be true?

Practicing with the KPI Filter tends to humanize others, and causes you to respond in a more humane way — not only to them, but to yourself.

My KPI Filter has gotten a lot of use lately.  I can feel myself being more peaceful, empathetic and kind in situations I would have otherwise been very angry and aggressive.  It gives me perspective and helps me realize that the other person is probably suffering through something that is rooted in fear.  And not only is that not my fault, but it’s not about me, even when it appears it’s all about me on the surface.

Taking these moments to pause for a moment between the stimulus and the response, and apply the KPI Filter, has made all the difference for me.