What To Do When Someone Is Hurt By Your Words or Actions

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Here is something I learned through my first 25 years of life: Each individual’s actions are their responsibility, and my emotional response to their actions is my own.

In the immediacy of a situation where someone has acted grievously towards me, it may be impossible to control my emotions, but I get to do that emotional labor going forward.

I personally choose to honor every chance I get to do emotional labor.

I think the best way for you to respond when someone has been offended by you is to be energetically available to witness and honor another’s emotional labor.

For instance, I want more than anything to have a talk with my parent and share how I experienced their actions toward me and the work I’ve done to heal. It’s probably never going to happen. (I’ve tried to initiate this.) In this situation, I wouldn’t be looking for this parent to explain their actions toward me — honestly, their motivations are not relevant — but simply to be heard, seen, felt, for everything I’ve done and become in the wake of what happened between us.

So I believe that the best you can do when someone is offended or hurt by something you’ve said or done is to hear them out. When they tell you how something made them feel, you say things like, “I understand you are hurting,” or “I am honored to witness the inner work you’re doing here.” You can show them that they are heard and don’t have to try to clarify what you said or explain why you did whatever you did (unless they ask).

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