Recently I was watching two little loved ones of mine play together. They played well with each other, especially considering their age but occasionally one of these little ones would reach over and pinch the other. This happened several times and each time the receiver of the pinch would exclaim, “Ouch, that hurts!” but to my surprise would continue to play. Eventually I intervened and stopped the pinching, but the whole exchange got me thinking about the way that grown ups act with each other.
So often in life we receive little pinches from those around us. Sometimes it is a stranger who rudely pinches you as you bump into one another. A driver who gives you an unkind gesture or a fellow shopper who shakes her head at your unruly kids. Those pinches are easy to brush off and get over.
Sometimes we receive pinches in the form of inconsiderate comments or actions from acquaintances. You are not invited to an outing. Somebody who doesn’t know you well asks a question that seems too personal. These little pinches hurt a bit more than those from a stranger.
Finally there are the pinches that come from friends and those closest to us. A flippant comment made about your recent failure, choosing not to spend time with you, or simply “teasing” comments that are really meant to hurt. These pinches hurt the most because they are unexpected and because these people are close to us, so they can pinch harder, closer, and with more accuracy.
We all receive pinches and we are often busy giving out pinches as well. Sadly this is a fact of life. However, after watching these two little ones I realized that it’s what we do about these pinches that really matters.
As the receiver of a pinch, in each exchange that hurts there is a need for self reflection. Did that hurt because it hit an area of my life that I need to deal with? Why is this person pinching me? There isn’t really a lot that we can do in response to a pinch from a stranger, except just let it go. Responding in anger or acting out does not create anything positive and usually only gets you more upset. There is much more room for response with acquaintances and loved ones. I noticed with the little ones, the pain inflicted was proclaimed. Your words/actions caught me off guard and hurt me. This may not be appropriate to say to somebody you hardly know, but certainly with friends and those close to you. This is not an accusation, it is just a statement. Take care to say it in such a way.
Secondly, as the receiver of a pinch don’t withdraw. It is easy to say, That hurt and I’m not going to play with you anymore. However that does not resolve anything and usually only ends up breaking relationship and hurting only yourself more. Instead try to stay engaged, give the offender another change, be long suffering.
If you have hurt somebody with your words and actions be quick to make it right, especially if they have the integrity and love to bring it up. Don’t be defensive. Consider it a great compliment that they value your relationship enough to work through these little issues. Now is also a good time to consider your interactions with everybody you encounter. Are you a prickly person? Do you pinch everybody who comes near? Are you a repeat pincher? Do you hurt others to get attention? Because you are insecure? We all, at time pinch, but if you repeatedly are hurting those who love you there will come a time when they will chose to stop playing with you.
There are times when others need to get involved. Sometime another person’s perspective can completely change a situation. Regardless of what role you play, be open to hear from others whom you trust and whom can see objectively. Perhaps that person will say, you are in an unhealthy relationship and you need to get out, these are more than just little pinches, these are punches. Or maybe he/she would say, you treated that person very badly, I think you hurt them.
Finally, as an observer if you see people you love hurting each other, intervene with love and fairness. Don’t take sides, but point out what you are seeing and are concerned about. Hopefully this will lead to whole and healthy relationships without any permanent hurt.
Thanks for reading my observations and allowing me to verbally process what I’m learning. 🙂