Remember, the people you love…well, you love them. Everyone is struggling at some point or another, whether we have any idea or not. Most people try to be kind. The majority of people in the world try not to lash out at others when they struggle, a fact that is even truer of those people you love. At the end of the day, no one wants to hurt the people they love. Sometimes they do, though. When our loved ones kick us, it’s tempting to kick them right back. Instead, here’s some quick tips for dealing with the initial blow, and the bruises to follow:
1. Take a moment to remember that you love them.
If a loved one has kicked you (this is a figurative word choice, or at least, for the most part, I hope so), take a moment to remember that you love them. The initial shock is difficult to overcome. You’re confused, hurt, and angry. You’ve got your own issues, right? If this person you love has lashed out in a hurtful way, though, there’s likely pain, anxiety, or stress behind it. Even further, if this is out-of-character for the person who has kicked you, it should raise some red flags. Take a moment.
2. Don’t be a martyr.
If a loved one has kicked you, it’s not just enough to take a moment. You’re not taking a moment so you can recover and then tell the person you love how awesome you are for not immediately reacting to their kick in a negative way. There should be no self-gratifying statements like “Well, you’re being a jerk but I’m choosing not to be a jerk back.” Just take the moment without comment. If you’ve said or done something that would not normally set the person you love off, but clearly has in the current situation, maybe apologize—even if you haven’t technically done anything wrong. But leave it at that—a simple “I’m sorry” will do. But no martyrdom, please.
3. Give the situation some space.
If a loved one has kicked you, they are behaving in a way that is less than positive. Chances are, any attempts you make to reach out to them—no matter how genuine—will not be well-received. So why are you going to take the risk? You can just as easily give it fifteen minutes, an hour, or a day. Let them recover. Let them sort through their feelings. Give them time to realize (or maybe not realize, which is also okay) that they have lashed out at you. Don’t reach out until you’ve cooled down yourself, either, even if you think they’d be receptive. When someone you love kicks you, it’s natural to be angry. It might even seem like the person you love is ready to talk right after the kick has occurred. If you’re not ready, you’re no good to them anyway. Space and time—these things are okay.
4. Don’t expect an apology.
If a loved one has kicked you, but you’ve managed to remember you love them, avoided the martyrdom trap, and have given the situation the appropriate space, don’t ruin the moment. Don’t ask for an apology. In fact, do yourself a favor and don’t even expect an apology. If the person you love recognizes they’ve kicked you and wants to apologize, great. Be humble and accept the apology with kindness. If the person you love never apologizes, though, be prepared to be okay with that also. They might be too embarrassed. They might have been struggling so sincerely in that moment that they do not realize they even kicked you. If you love them, there is a reason, and don’t mess the relationship up by putting conditions on that love.
It’s easy to negatively react when someone—especially someone we love—kicks us. It’s harder to stay calm, collected, and cool. Sometimes you will fail. That’s okay. Never stop trying to be a level-headed person for the people you love, though. Everyone is human. Everyone is real. Everyone has their own public and private battles. Even when we’re struggling ourselves, we must make intentional efforts to be kind. Kindness goes a long way, especially with the people we love.