We love to blame our bad behavior on the people who have hurt us most in life.
Our parents, who never understood us.
Our exes, who took advantage of our vulnerability.
Our faux friends and volatile love interests and a society that set us up with false expectations for love.
We’ve been hurt, and so we build up our walls.
We’ve been hurt, and so we close off our hearts.
We’ve been hurt, and so we can seemingly justify just about any behavior, under the guise of self-interest.
We believe that we can be cruel to others because of how we’ve received cruelty.
We think we owe it to ourselves to stop giving, because others have taken advantage.
We decide that it’s our prerogative to act as treacherously as we’ve been treated. That it’s our right to even out the score.
And perhaps it is.
Perhaps it’s perfectly within our rights to acknowledge that it’s a dog-eat-dog world – and that we ought to eat before we are eaten.
But here’s another course of action worth considering:
Don’t become part of the problem.
Don’t become one of the jaded ones. Don’t become bitter and distrustful.
Don’t become one of the people who perpetuates a cycle of pain and abuse and self-interest, because they’ve lost faith in everyone around them.
If you’ve been hurt before, stay soft.
If you’ve been hurt before, stay open.
If you’ve been hurt before, choose to be better than the person who hurt you. Choose to rise above the legacy of that pain.
Let the cycle of betrayal end with you.
Be the person who puts their foot down. The person who stands by their morals. The person who refuses to let that pain change them into someone they don’t recognize anymore.
Learn to be proud of yourself for staying true to your values, even when you have the right to act out of pain and self-interest.
Learn to trust your own sense of right and wrong, even if someone else has chosen to forgo their own.
Learn to stand up to the weak, reeling parts of yourself that want to lash out and even the score – because the only person they’re bound to end up hurting is you.
When you sink to the level of the people who’ve wronged you, the only person you’re truly betraying is yourself.
It’s you who has to stare yourself down in the mirror at the end of the day. You, who has to live inside the skin of the person you’ve become. You, who has to watch the way their world transforms into a bitter and cynical place, if you allow it to.
You, who may have to learn the hard way that there’s no joy in hurting other people the way that you yourself have been hurt.
There’s only the choice to rise above it, or to stay stuck inside of that pain.
Because at the end of the day, there’s only one way to rid yourself of the people who’ve shown you their worst, and it’s to move on from them. To let go of them. To rid your life of the anger that’s keeping you small, and trapped inside of their memory.
At the end of the day, be proud of yourself for knowing that if you were given the chance to hurt the people in your past the way they’ve hurt you, you wouldn’t take it.
Because otherwise, you’re every bit a part of the problem as they are.
Because otherwise, you’re no better than the person who hurt you in the first place.