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Ah-Ha Moments: What’s My Part?

(This was written early last year; briefly edited just now)

First I’m gonna hit you with some insightful text:

“…we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.” (page 62, Alcoholics Anonymous

One of the more difficult parts of growing up – for me – is admitting and accepting that I have a part in all my interactions, even the ones that go in a direction I hadn’t intended.

Recently, I had an encounter with a friend that left me with hurt feelings. “This may get your hackles up…,” I said, setting this friend up to prepare, to defend… and this friend reacted exactly as anyone on the outside might have predicted: hackles went up. That was my perception, anyway.

Except that in that moment, I didn’t see it that way. I didn’t register defense, I heard attack. “…seemingly without provocation…” And my feelings were hurt.

I am grateful I spoke to someone afterward about the encounter and my reaction. I am grateful that the person I spoke to always has my best interests at heart and feels safe in being gently honest with me about my part. I realized that I often ‘set folks up’ to react defensively – my ego still thinks it knows others well enough to predict their responses. I also speak before my head knows what’s coming out of my mouth. Truth is, I know very little about how someone is going to react to my words. I need to attend to my part of the equation instead, to state my truth, to share my self, and to let the other person sort it out as they see fit. Practice kindness, too, and show compassion. Think about my intention before I open my mouth.

Maybe watch for those toes, too, while I’m at it.