Friday, February 12, 2010

Intent is 9/10ths of the battle

I admit it, I wear my heart on my sleeve. So it isn't that difficult to hurt my feelings. It has been my Achille's heel for most of my life. In grade school I was a perfect target for bullies: I could be reduced to tears very easily.

They say "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me, " and even as a child, I knew that was a crock of crap. And I suppose you could argue that if you let people get to you, they will, but I cannot successfully harden my heart to the point that criticism does not get in. I tried for a while. I didn't like who I became. I was brittle, with sharp edges. Not a fun person to be around. Not a fun person to be.

These days, I am stronger. I am open emotionally, the better to love. And sometimes, it hurts. So when my son said to me, "Did you ride a dinosaur to school named Fluffy?" as funny as it sounds now, I had to swallow the lump in my throat. Because it was his intent to hurt my feelings. Autism, or no autism. He was angry that I wouldn't take him to the video game store so he could trade in his old video games for a new one. And he wanted to make me pay. He took cheap shots about my age, something he knows I can be sensitive about.

So even though it was a silly thing to say, and laughable as far as insults go, I responded to his intent, not his words. Now, after all these years, it finally dawned on me why my feelings are hurt so easily. It isn't what you say, it's how you say it. Lesson learned, and ready to be taught.

Funny how even now I am learning things about myself.

T, who just wants people to be nice to one another

4 sent chocolate:

Spot said...

Okay, stepping away from being the mother of a nonverbal son with autism, which had me wondering if that's what my son is thinking when he's mad at me, I completely understand. I get my feelings hurt easily too. Luckily, I've finally realized that I have to analyze the intentions of the person. Many times, it's not to hurt, they are just careless with their word choice. I think our children are the worst. Because then I get called "cranky" for taking it the wrong way. Or even suggesting they meant to be mean. We can't win.


Brenda said...

That's brilliant. When my son says something and it comes out silly, I have to remember not to laugh. And I hadn't thought of this until recently. He hasn't shown me that he's upset. But I bet you are exactly right.

T. said...

Spot: thanks so much for the words of encouragement!

Brenda:intentions really are 9/10ths of the law, aren't they? I wonder if we get in more trouble when we try to divine other's intentions as being like our own?


Tony Letts said...

For I hope the only time ever - I disagree with you Tina. My version is 'It isn't what you say, nor how you say it - it's how it's received' I often say things to my wife in perfect innocence and she takes it 'the wrong way' and assumes I'm being a smart-mouth when that wasn't my intention at all. Like all mankind, I guess I'll never understand women! :)

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