Why we Should Have Empathy for People That Hurt us

Why we Should Have Empathy for People That Hurt us

Scott D. Renwick

When revenge is such a natural reaction to people hurting us, why should we then show them empathy? Let’s talk!

As long as we are alive and putting ourselves out there in the world, we will be vulnerable and subject to being hurt. In fact I’d go as far as to say that people trying to hurt you is a sure sign you stand for something and are having an impact on the world and on the person trying to hurt you.

The more people trying to take you down, the more people have realized you’re actually doing something that makes a difference to the world. This triggers a reaction within them. They need to take you down in order to justify their own non-impactful stance in the world.

Why we Should Have Empathy

Certainly showing empathy to a person that hurts you does not change the result, but it does change your reaction, and if the reaction changes so do the circumstances.

A bully or someone that exerts oppressive behavior upon another, is using this behavior as a coping mechanism. It’s how they deal with the world.

At this point I’d like you to note that not all oppressive behaviour would be considered bullying. It comes in many shapes and sizes and degrees of impact.

A Patronising Outlook

It’s incredibly patronizing to say, that oppressors cope like this because they don’t know any better. Because more often than not people who do bad things to others, do know better. The thing is, these people think doing better, means them having less. Less, enjoyment, less pleasure, less control, less stuff and so on.

So while they do know better, they don’t get why they should do better and that’s due to a lack of understanding of themselves and the world.

They see themselves as separate entities.

As the ego. It’s a “me against them” mentality. Never realizing that by holding onto this mentality, the only way to win is by keeping others down.

They may not even realize that they are exerting oppressing behavior.

It may have become such a common coping mechanism for them, that they now just identify with it as being who they are. It’s a significant part of their personality.

Even the people that surround them have learned to see it as their personality.

They, therefore, reinforce these traits by supporting and encouraging them to act out to be oppressive. It’s true, bullies do have friends.

The Ones That are Truly Clueless

Then there are the ones that truly don’t know any better. They are ones that don’t realize they have emotional and psychological scars from their childhood or somewhere in their past that they have not resolved within them.

A lot of people never dig into the depths of who they are to come to these realizations about themselves and for most of us the answer is coping through suppression, denial, distraction (bullying, substance abuse, and overeating), belittling the situation, and consciously forgetting. None of these methods ever lead to any type of resolution.

What they will lead to is a loop of dysfunctional behavior that keeps you stuck in your life emotionally and mentally.

While it may seem that life is progressing on the outside, on the inside you’re still the same little boy or girl you always were.

You can get big and strong, make loads of money, become a parent and grow in many other ways, but you have still not resolved the things that truly matter inside of you.

Battling the Demons

You will battle these demons to the day you die. Because you are not willing to make the effort to understand yourself.

Nobody will make any attempt to understand you and even if they do, you will block their interpretation of you.

You will reject it and become dismissive as soon as a light is shone upon your unresolved conflict.

Like the inner child you are, you will look for a distraction, an escape, or some form of coping mechanism to reaffirm your beliefs about yourself.

A Comedic Interpretation of Empathy

Comedians Key and Peele do an excellent job of conveying the ironic mentality of a bully in this viral YouTube video:

A lot of people will go through life dismissing their past traumas. Even more, people will go through life not even realizing they have past traumas.

In this world, we’ve collectively become excellent at making them cultural norms. We use phrases such as:

  • well that’s life, isn’t it?!?
  • we all have our problems
  • who said life was meant to be easy
  • stop being such a drama queen
  • why do you make a big deal out of everything
  • life’s short get over it
  • move on
  • the world doesn’t revolve around you
  • stop being such a baby
  • grow up
  • be a man
  • stop being such a little girl
  • oh for god’s sake get over it
  • just let it go
  • nobody cares about your problems
  • people are starving in Africa, now that’s a problem
  • you should be grateful for what you have
  • relax would you, it’s just a joke
  • stop being such a snowflake
  • those god damn Millenials
  • stop focusing on the negative
  • you need to be positive, focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want

Phrases like these play over and over again throughout society, becoming mantras and affirmations of how we deal with the world. Ironically these phrases don’t deal with anything. They merely allow us to cope and make it through the day.

These phrases belittle our problems, dismiss them and teach us to ignore them over and over again. Ultimately dismissing ourselves. And while you may achieve material success, the fact is if you dismiss yourself you will never achieve fulfillment, which, in my opinion, is the only success that truly matters.

Looking to the Media for Empathy

One thing the media has thought us is that massive success does not equal happiness and fulfillment. It never has and never will.

We don’t have to look too far in Google to see the number of celebrities that die of substance abuse, suicide, and other stress-related illnesses.

The people that hurt us, which includes me and you, by the way, are simply coping.

We are nursing our own pain hoping nobody else notices that inside, we’re broken and just trying to cope.

Some of us of course cope better than others, but it still does not resolve anything.

Some people have positive coping mechanisms like going to the gym, meditating, and helping others, while other people have negative coping mechanisms, like substance abuse and oppressing others.

Coping Vs Resolving

We’re confusing coping with issues with dealing with issues.

When someone hurts us and we utilise our ability to understand them, it naturally causes us to be more empathetic.

This breaks the cycle between the oppressor and the victim. The oppressor requires you to react. They depend on you playing into their drama in order to justify their behavior.

In a classic sustained ongoing bully-like situation, the victim plays a key role. This is the last thing the victim wants to hear, but the truth is often the last thing we want to hear.

The victim must complete the loop in order to sustain the bullying. Without the completion of the loop, bullying ceases to exist.

Breaking the Loop

We break the loop by replacing a reaction with a response.

If that response is understanding and empathy you will rise above the oppressor and hopefully in your elevation inspire them to change within themselves, more often than not the oppressor will find a new victim, one that is a more willing participant to fulfil the role of the victim, however, that is up to them and the journey they choose.

You are not here to change anyone but yourself.

Understanding will lead to forgiveness and forgiveness will lead to peace and freedom.

Interested in the topic of empathy? Don’t miss my article The Problem with too Much Empathy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *