You may have heard the story about a Native American grandfather talking to his grandson. The grandfather told the grandson there are two wolves inside of him having a war. One is mean and angry. The other is kind and loving.
Curious the grandson asked, “Who will win?” Grandfather replied, “The one that I feed.”
I have heard this story a few times and every time I nod to myself that I too want to feed the right wolf. I want to be kind and loving, not angry and mean. And I bet if you are reading this right now you would agree with me.
Sometimes in life we are faced with difficult situations. This is the life all of us will encounter at some point. Many of us know hard experiences already.
Maybe a family member has died. Maybe you have had some cut offs in your life that you regret. These are big experiences that many of us will face.
But what do we do when we get seriously mad at our mate? Do you hold a grudge? Do you blame them and make them pay? Do you internalize your pain and think it is your fault?
Many of us got hurt during our childhood. And some of us were not able to talk about our pain to our parents or the people who cared for us. So when a young person gets hurt and there isn’t another person to help them, some of us turn toward our anger to get attention.
This is how I grew up. I got hurt, but didn’t have the skills to talk about what was bothering me, so I resorted to yelling at the person who hurt me. This is common when some of our needs are not met.
All of us in relationships will at one time or another hurt the ones we love. We probably don’t mean to do this, but it will happen. It happens because we are not in their heads, we are in our own, and we cannot ever really know how another person will take us until there is a reaction.
So, let’s say you get into a disagreement with the one you love and you say some things that are an exaggeration of what you really feel, but you are maybe so offended or mad that you just let the words and hurts fly.
This also happens in relationships. It also separates people into their own camps, away from each other, disconnected and both feeling terrible about what just happened.
Many of us in relationships get our feelings hurt. This is pretty normal and happens even when we love our partners. But some of us when we get our feelings hurt get really, really upset. I know I used to do that too.
When we get really upset, well we can’t think straight. Our minds narrow with maybe one thought. We got hurt and someone has to pay. This is common if we didn’t learn how to understand our hurt feelings.
I didn’t while growing up. There was a lot of yelling in my family and I grew up thinking that yelling was the way to solve things when upset. It works in a family of yellers, but most people don’t grow up this way.
Humans are very complex. We can be in two feelings at once. We can love our mates, and be extremely mad at them and we can feel both of these things together. That is how the mind works. All of our minds work this way.
It is very common to get our feelings hurt when we are in a relationship with someone we love. Loving a person requires us to move away from barriers we place around our heart. We push them aside and love deeply another person.
And because these barriers are not there to protect us, when we get our feelings hurt, we really, really hurt! There is no protection around the heart to keep the heart safe and that’s why it stings so deeply.
All of us grew up thinking about how we were treated by our parents and the world. All of us at some point made some decisions about the best way to survive our upbringing. Some of us grew tough so no one could hurt us. Some of us grew self-critical, as if we were the cause if things didn’t turn out well.
All of us bring something of our youth with us as we age. Usually we develop strategies to help us overcome what was happening to us. In my case my mother was raising three little ones: 5, 3 and 1 all by herself and working full time as a teacher.
I couldn’t understand any of this when I was the 3-year-old. I just knew that my mother was often tired and unavailable and when she got overwhelmed, she yelled at us.
When we argue with our mate we do so from our own point of view. This is how we are as individuals, trying to get people to see our side. When we get our feelings hurt some of us think about what was done to us, and then we lash out to the person that hurt us.
This reaction is common in relationships, but it hurts people. I have worked with many couples who are pretty much wired similarly. They both want to get the other person to hear how they were hurt. They are really good at being mad at the other person and trying to get their attention. Only when they are both doing this, they create a war between them.
All of us in relationships come into our union with the skills we learned growing up. Many of us might have come from homes where the problems never got solved. Some of us might even be new to even thinking about saying, “I am sorry.”
That’s how I grew up. My family was full of love and deep connections, but the display of those emotions was buried under a lot of anger and disappointment. When someone drank the milk and another family member wanted some, that person would yell, “Who drank the milk?” If someone answered, then there would be an argument about why they drank all the milk.
A lot of us in relationships try and get what we want to make ourselves feel comfortable. Sometimes our mates do things that make us uncomfortable and then we tell them what we like and don’t like. This is very common.
But when we get into difficulty with our partner and they don’t do what we like, we might fall into a pattern of telling that they are lazy, stupid, mean, unkind and more. We might start to label them. And this labeling can have a devastating effect.