This led to me reflecting on that response. When we say this, how do we know, and what do we mean?
If we have experienced something in our past, generally, how effective are we in noticing the impact it has had, or has not had, on us. Can we readily understand and appreciate how we now react, and behave, as a result. Maybe yes, maybe no. In part it might depend on our self development work.
In any event, when we do say it did me no harm, do we mean we survived, or thrived, as a result of it? Can we at least know it is neutral.
When we make that assessment, that it did no harm, and as a result are judging whatever it is we are judging or being annoyed about. Are we basing this on a pool of one (us), or a few (often those that are around us, and/or similar to us). If we think about this, we probably wouldn’t want many other things in life to be decided on such a small group.
Who knows, maybe, we were lucky, perhaps amongst hundreds, or thousands, or beyond, and we were less affected than others.
It could also be that we are assuming, that all other factors were equal.
Perhaps we had support and resources that they did not. Maybe it, whatever it is is, was only one factor amongst many others that they were also experiencing at that time. Who knows, perhaps we had something they did not. Whether that was our approach, our physical or mental skills, our age, experience, background, education, our skin colour, our physique, or even what kind of day or month we were having when we experienced it.
As the saying goes, often we cannot know until we have walked a mile in the other person’s shoes. And I suspect most of us have at least one memory, where we finally understood something differently. Something that we had previously judged, and only stopped judging in the same way, when we experienced the same thing ourselves, and realised the truth behind the other person’s perspective.
So whether it did, or did not do us harm, as with all things, the one thing we can do more of, is to continue to stay curious and open to all of those possibilities. Perhaps there is some truth in it, perhaps not.
Maybe we will notice that in fact, when we reflect on our experiences, in hindsight they weren’t that great.
We might even start to notice some projecting, or guilt. The unpleasantness of our own discomfort, especially if we are, or have been, carrying those behaviours forward ourselves. It isn’t nice, that feeling, but we may need to forgive ourselves for whatever it is and move forward.
Or perhaps, it is something else.
It could be we need to be more accepting that the other person’s experiences are equally true, it in no way threatens our own.
Whether their experience is judged as more, or less, severe than our own. Whether we want to show the strength about what we overcame, or the challenges that meant we did not. Whatever the situation. We are not in competition, and we can move forward from whatever discomfort we feel about that past or the now.
Some of it is going to be about changing out stance, viewpoints, acceptance, and actions. Even if this change has to happen by simply accepting that, due to the genuine voice of many experiences, we now accept that it is not okay. Without fully understanding the why, or the experience. And despite it perhaps being aimed at some of our own past behaviours or thoughts, whether they were unwittingly carried out or not.
These are part of the joys and challenges of the way our minds, and emotions work, the fun of being human. We can continue our growth of self awareness, self compassion and forgiveness. Greater understanding, and continuing empathy, even in our own discomfort and challenging times. I am not suggesting this will always be easy, it could be hard depending on the situation. It might not be.
As times change, there will be more new things to understand and change our way of doing things.
Sometimes, it is only when someone else says something, that we realise how accepting we have been of unhelpful or unacceptable, thoughts, or behaviours, or the status quo. Simply because they have been so commonplace, or ingrained, that we haven’t even thought to question them. Those new insights can sometimes be startling.
I want to end with a thank you to those whose voices are being heard as a result of that bravery to say ‘this is not okay’, whatever and wherever that might be. We can now all go forward, with greater enlightenment, new ideas, and different ways to create a better world, from our day to day lives, to our workplaces, to our futures, and to our children. It is appreciated.