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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Hurt and Trust

I have evolved a conviction that "I only hurt myself." It's the idea that I am responsible for the hurt I feel because I am the one that administered the hurt by reacting the way I did.

It's an idea that assigns the possibility that I could have reacted differently. Nowadays, I never say, "you made me feel..." to anyone. This doesn't mean I don't get that accusation from them!

Most people seem to negatively interpret another's actions to mean they were being malicious, manipulative, and small-minded. This amazes me. Inventing a perfectly innocent and logical explanation for someone's apparently objectionable actions, (even if those actions were, in fact, meant maliciously,) is a very constuctive ploy that gets troublemakers to behave. It does take some creativity under stress. The misbehaving will usually choose my more innocent creative explanation as a convenient way out. The innocent are also absolved from blame. Every once in awhile the tactic backfires, and the person declares they are, in fact, trying to hurt me intentionally.

There is another saying similar to that: "Hurt me once, shame on you; Hurt me twice, shame on me." Meaning, the first hurt is unavoidable. It may be nothing more than an inconvenient misunderstanding. It's possible he second hurt on the same theme could be intentful. But why would people try to hurt each other as friends? I consider some further misunderstandings along the same theme still forgiveable, because sometimes it takes a long time to change a habit. People's habits can hurt each other.

I make a huge distinction in what my response might be between hurt that is unintentionally applied and actions that are maliciously intended, just as the distinctions between unintentional manslaughter and intent to kill are different. But some people do not. Most people operate on the assumption that I should have known better the first time, which I think is unfair. If someone treads on your toes without knowing if you're going to bite, you should growl first.

I think that I allow someone else to hurt me by giving to them my concern about what they can do. For instance, I might depend on them. I want to continue being in contact. I want them to respond to me, to talk to me. I might have some idea about an opportunity we have to work together or some other attraction. If none of those is ever going to happen, then my concern must become humanitarian. It must be a concern that I can extend to the next friend.

I find that it's handy to at least know when I'm extending my expectations, even to be able to tell someone that "the ball is in your court, I'm trusting you now." But I find it's even better to "trust" someone with something you can afford to lose without notifying them how it matter to you - just to see how they do. As if it's a sort of test to see what they might do with more responsibility before you get closer. I didn't do this with my friend - I just promoted her to family status without going through any hurdles of trust. For instance, loaning someone a book that you don't particularly care about just to see how many times you have to ask them for it back. Then you'll find out if they keep track of books, if you should trust them with books. Then you trust them with other stuff... Perhaps more important trusts they will take care of in better ways.

The Hawaiian culture does that with people. They are incredibly generous with what they have and love to share with whoever they meet. They have a word for this generousity; they call it the "Spirit of Aloha." There is a bumpersticker on a car I saw that said, "Aloha - Don't Leave Home Without It!" Meaning, politeness in driving as well as in doing every action as if it were an action of love. That's a pretty high ideal!

Unfortunately, after being ripped off for their "Aloha" repeatedly by visitors to Hawaii, some Hawaiians have learned to cut their losses and run when they encounter a stranger who doesn't give back. I guess it's an issue of boundaries to be able to "write someone off your list," so to speak. The term I've heard in Hawaii is something muttered like, "No fucking Aloha there..."

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