“Some people use their own hurt as an excuse for hurting others.” – Roland Merullo
I’m overly sensitive. I get my feelings hurt easily. I’ve been told that I need thicker skin on more occasions than I care to count. I don’t necessarily disagree. Every time I have been the butt of a joke, or someone says something to me that triggers some insecurity, my reaction is the same: anger, embarrassment and feelings of inadequacy. I know I’m not alone. So what, right? I just need to toughen up. Let that stuff roll off my back. Easy enough…yeah.
I think a better route is to seriously consider the things you say to others and place importance on how it will impact them. No, you can’t control how someone else will take something you say. But, you can decide whether or not making a joke at someone else’s expense is worth the hurt feelings and resentment. I know plenty of people that, at least outwardly, present a stone façade and no amount of jokes or ribbing seem to affect them. I’m not built that way. I may put up a good front on occasion, but I internalize everything. Again, I’m not alone.
Further, let’s be honest about the phrase, “I’m just kidding.” Tacking this phrase onto the end of something hurtful doesn’t make the original insult disappear. Truthfully, what it tries to do is remove the responsibility of hurting someone’s feelings and attempts to place the onus of forgiveness on the person who received the insult. Is that fair? Let’s see it in action:
Person A: “You’re stupid. Ha ha ha! Just kidding.”
Person B: “That was really mean.”
Person B: “I said I was just kidding. Can’t you take a joke?”
Rachel Simmons sums this up perfectly: “To understand this more clearly, consider that every act of aggression can be divided into two parts: intent and impact. Intent first refers to what you meant when the aggression occurred; impact, to what actually happened. The meaning behind “just kidding” is: if I didn’t intend to hurt you, the impact didn’t occur. If I was just kidding, or I didn’t mean it, I can’t get in trouble. You can’t be mad at me. You can’t not be my friend. And so on.”
If you’re the type of person that can let stuff roll off of you without a second thought, that’s awesome. I applaud and envy you. Please just remember, we’re not all like that. Some of us don’t have that ability. The things we say, however innocuous we feel they may be, have a lasting effect. Choose them wisely.
Have an awesome Thursday,