What do you do when someone goes out of the way to hurt you? It could come in the form of harsh words or deeds or even a lawsuit. Some people just need to lash out if they feel that they have been slighted in some way, shape or form.
There may be no good way of talking with an angry person. If it becomes a legal matter, a discussion outside of a lawyer’s office or a courtroom may be forbidden. In personal matters, the protagonist may refuse to communicate, leaving you to simply wonder at what he or she may be thinking, feeling or planning on doing. The feelings of fear and doubt within you rise, perhaps to the point where it becomes difficult to focus on daily tasks.
When someone we care about, or even someone with whom we have a passing friendship, gets mad at us, it can shatter our inner world. This is even more profound if the person is someone with whom we are intimate. Highly sensitive people can be affected so deeply that they are unable to function normally and life can become very burdensome.
If this is something that has happened to you, please know that there are things you can do about the problem (even in the case of legal matters). The first thing you have to remember is that you are OK right at this moment. Once you take that in, you can then begin to see what your options are, and that does depend on the person who is projecting anger onto you.
Do everything you can to communicate with this person and ask what it was that was so upsetting. If the other person doesn’t have a specific answer, there may be longer-term issues at play, and those should be put on the table for discussion, if possible.
The truth is that we all make a misstep every now and then, and sometimes the people in our lives get unintentionally squashed. If an apology is called for from either party, don’t debate it, but go ahead and get it over with. Sometimes all you have to do is own it and say the words to make most of the bad feelings go away.
If the other person is unwilling to give or accept an apology and would prefer to stay mad instead of resolving the issue, you might consider bringing in someone else to talk about it. I have worked with people who brought their friends to their personal therapy sessions so that they could get issues worked out with the help of a third party.
When no resolution is available, you have to rely on your own mind and heart to lead you. If you know you did nothing wrong, or that the mistake was unintentional, then you need to forgive yourself and the other person, so you can move on. If someone is unwilling to heal interpersonal issues, they usually aren’t the type of person you need to have in your life anyway.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, is the author, most recently, of “100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence – Believe in Yourself and Others Will Too.” Email him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com.