I am a hot head. Always have been. I have done and said some pretty ugly things out of anger. On occasion, I still do. This is one of the areas I have had to really focus on improving within myself. My knee jerk reaction when someone upset or offended me was to make them pay for it. This can tear apart any type of relationship in a real hurry. That type of thinking often takes you to the point of no return when that is not what you wanted. It is a little hard for your partner to just move on after you have told them how terrible of a person you think they are. You know that you did not really mean most of the things you said. If you did mean them, maybe it is time for you to end that relationship. So how should you handle things when you get hurt? Learn to be FAIR.
You and I both know that you cannot stop yourself from being hurt by certain things. Some people are hurt by more things than others. That is not wrong. You can have any emotion you want to as a reaction to something in your life. It is not my place, nor anyone else’s, to tell you that you can’t. Feeling is the first part of being FAIR. Go ahead and get seething, red-hot mad. But do it away from the situation. As far away as you can. There should really be some kind of calculator that tells you how far away from someone you should get based on your level of anger. That would be handy.
Remove yourself and have your emotions. If this is going to take significant time, let the other person know you will let them know when you are ready to resolve the situation once you have your head on straight. Unless they are seeking a fight, they should understand that. Do not be rude about it. Just clear and concise. I know this is harder when you are living with the person. If you know you are one of these people, have a plan in place ahead of time. Have a designated space the person knows is your area to decompress.
Assume is not often a word you hear when receiving advice about how to react to a situation. This is a positive assumption though. Assume that the other person feels badly and is sorry. Always assume this before you try to resolve anything. If you don’t, you approach the situation already on the defensive. If you approach a resolution thinking the other person intentionally hurt you and isn’t sorry for it then you will probably take any little thing said during that conversation as a further assault.
We all say things we shouldn’t. We have all hurt another person, whether intentionally or unintentionally. I would say most of us have also had a chance to apologize and move forward for majority of it. Assume that is exactly what the other person wants to do here. Assume they did not mean to hurt you, or if they did they made an error, and now they are truly sorry and hope to repair your relationship. This will help you to see things more objectively.
Yep. I am going to ask you to see things from the other person’s view. I am sorry, but it is necessary. Think about the lead up. Did you say or do anything that contributed to situation? Are they under a lot of stress from other things in their life that is making them more on edge? This is not a time to make excuses for another person’s behavior, but to understand that there may be other contributing factors. Seeing these contributing factors helps you to understand that the other person is not terrible. They are just a human being who needs to learn to think before they respond. This is only FAIR, right?
Chances are that you have some sort of positive relationship with the person who has hurt you. A positive relationship you want to continue to have. That means sometimes you have to be the bigger person and be the one to help move past the negatives that come with life. Relationships rely on both people accepting that the other person will not always be perfect. Let’s just call this time your turn.
Now that you have calmed down, assumed they are sorry, and thought about it from their perspective; you can safely (hopefully) respond in a way to improve the situation. Responding is the final step in being FAIR. Respond for a resolution. A resolution to not just end this conflict, but that can help future conflicts. Don’t just tell them they ticked you off but you forgive them. Tell them they ticked you off, you forgive them, and here is how you hope to avoid the same conflict in the future.
Make it clear that you know there will be times when you both don’t behave the best. Do not place the blame on them. Making anyone take the blame always re-triggers negative emotions. All relationships are a team effort. Your response should tell how you felt, why you felt that way, and what you are going to do to resolve the conflict. It is up to them to meet you halfway.
This approach will leave you taking the high road. No matter how the other person(s) chooses to respond, you will know that you put forth your best effort for positive resolution. In all situations you can only contribute your own portion. Make sure that contribution is your best. The other person may need more time or may never contribute their portion to the resolution. Don’t let that have any effect on your reaction. You know to feel, assume, imagine, and then respond (FAIR).
Make sure you practice this approach until it is second nature. Be sure to share this with the other people in your life so they can focus on being FAIR in their reactions too!