I was talking with someone recently about a months-long series of problematic events that relate to some volunteer work they do. These events and the people involved with them have caused a lot of hurt, anxiety, and anger for a while, and the young man had seemed to be in a good place about the situation until a small event for the organization came up on the calendar.
When the dear one explained that he wasn’t feeling emotionally safe going to this event due to the personal attacks and things that had transpired, in my mind the decision was an easy one: It doesn’t matter how important something may be, your health and safety is your number one priority. I advised him not to attend the event if it would compromise his wellness.
But if I don’t show up, they’re going to feel like they won.
Ah, there it is! It isn’t enough to feel emotionally unsafe and shaken up, but now we have to add in a dollop of ego to the mix. If he didn’t go to the event, he thought he would lose his firm grip on being right.
We’re interesting creatures, humans. We have this visceral need to be right even if it compromises other areas of our lives. It’s as though winning a disagreement is more important than making sure everyone is ok. After dear one made the statement, I asked why it mattered so much.
The goal is not to make the other parties feel bad. He doesn’t really want them to suffer or to grovel, he’s just still feeling very tender about his own emotional damage related to the situation. The reason it all hurts so much is that he loves them deeply, which allowed them to hurt him deeply. I asked one more question:
Have you acted in good faith, doing the best you could with what you had and what you knew at the time?
Then it’s time to let go of the need to be right. Will they feel like they won? Who cares? If we occupy ourselves first with the care and nurturing of our own wellness, we won’t have time to be concerned about what others think about us. And if we are healthy and well, there will be less of a need to explain and defend ourselves.
Never forget that I love you, and that excludes no one.