Emotional hostility is on the rise these days. Financial pressures cause tensions to mount in families and people are feeling stretched to the limit to work long hours with less pay just to make ends meet.
Road rage and sarcasm in human relations, whether in the workplace, family or online, create feelings of retaliation and wanting to lash out at the perpetrator to feel the same hurt they’ve caused us. It creates a vicious circle and damages our health.
When someone uses sarcasm or cutting words with us, it takes away our dignity and self-esteem. We take it hard and that bad feeling can stay with us for days. If we lash back, we create damaged relationships that further make the problem worse.
This calls for insight and empathy towards what might be creating the hostile behavior in the first place. Fighting hostility with hostility solves nothing and is the reason the world is in the situation it is in today.
When someone lashes out towards us, they are frustrated because of not getting certain needs met and have limited skills on how to show their vulnerability and ask for what they need. Most cultures do not role model these skills and often shame and ridicule people for showing vulnerability by labeling them as “weak”. It takes an act of courage to own and name your needs and speak up for them in this type of environment.
The person on the other end of the insult is in the same boat: they don’t feel comfortable or know how to ask for what they want or need, thus they feel frustrated and scared and are passing along the same beratement they’ve received and pressure that they are feeling and projecting it onto you. It’s a cry for help in the only way they know how and needs to be responded to with empathy: “I wonder if you’re feeling pressured and scared of what might happen if this doesn’t get done?”
This requires that we are in tune with our own needs and have learned to value and honor them in ourselves first so we may help someone else with theirs. This means we have undone our own negative programming that we’ve gotten from our families and society about what is “Okay” to feel and need.
We need to let go of the mentality of scarcity and “us against them” and see others as needing the same things we do and that there’s enough to go around.
View the person hurling the insult at you as an adult “child” throwing a temper tantrum who doesn’t know their way out of their problems because they’ve never been taught those skills. This is not about you or your value or worth as a person even if they say that it is or call you stupid or worse. It’s about them trying to get your attention and they don’t know any better way to do it.
By calling you a name they’ve gotten your attention. It may not be positive attention, but it’s attention. It’s up to you to create the pause and ask yourself what they are REALLY wanting from you. They are really wanting a connection and to be comforted and to be told everything is going to be okay. They also have probably themselves been berated by their own boss or mate and need to be comforted and role-modeled on how it looks to quietly assert yourself about possible solutions that might help and that name-calling is not one of them. Usually there is a huge fear of loss there and they need reassurance and ideas on how to feel secure and devise a plan.
You’ll get very few people saying “I feel very afraid right now about what might happen if such and such doesn’t happen.” Particularly men. As a society, we have been conditioned not to show fear, weakness or depression. We are ostracized, ridiculed and mocked.
And yet these are all normal feelings in the human experience and need to be experienced fully to move beyond them and find effective solutions. Showing that we care and want to help will help take the wind out of the triggered person’s sails and help them to calm down.
Triggered parents will often unleash a torrent of verbal abuse upon a child because we often lash out at the ones we feel safest with and who we know won’t lash out back at us. This is not healthy behavior, but the victims of such behavior can grow up with self-esteem issues and being vulnerable to future behavior from others because they did not have the experience as children to have insight that their parent’s behavior was about their fears and frustrations that they were taking out on their children and had nothing to do with their children.
It’s our responsibility as adults to not only learn to change our bad eating habits we were taught as children, but also our bad coping skills and communication styles that equally affect our happiness and physical health. There are places we can go such as the Center for Non-violent Communication where we can sign up for phone classes and empathy groups to learn how to get our needs met and cope more effectively.
The pay-offs in health and improved mood and relationships are enormous.
We can learn to change our core beliefs about our world and ourselves by being in safe and nurturing relationships with people who can give us what we need. And thus we create a ripple effect of healing.