I’ve just realized something.
When I say something that hurts or offends someone and they get upset, I feel horrible and in most cases I apologize, but it still plays on my mind for weeks, months, years, or even decades afterward and when it does I am filled with shame.
When someone else says something that hurts or offends me and I get upset, they tell me I’m too easily offended or too defensive, or that this shows a character flaw that I need to work on, and then they carry on like nothing ever happened. Meanwhile, it plays on my mind for weeks, months, years, or even decades afterward and when it does I am filled with shame.
Either way, both I and they see me as being the one in the wrong and I always accept the guilt in both cases.
I just realized this tonight. Last night, something I said to someone about 16 years ago came to mind, and I was filled with deep shame. Despite my apologies, this person no longer speaks to me, and I think about this often. Last night it took me hours of thinking and praying and relaxation attempts to stop that old tape. Then tonight, a relative said something that deeply offended and angered me, and I had to use every ounce of self-restraint I could muster up to not respond. Even though I succeeded in that regard, I still felt guilty and ashamed over how angry I felt. I wondered why I can’t just brush things like that off, not just externally, but internally too. Then I thought about how it’s been far worse the times I have externally shown that I was offended and I’ve responded negatively; in those cases I’ve come out the loser and I’ve been left feeling deep shame over my response.
And then I thought, wait a second… Why am I feeling shame when other people get offended by something I say and when I get offended over something someone else has said (whether I even respond or not)? If it’s wrong to verbally offend someone, shouldn’t it be wrong for both me and others? If it’s wrong to get offended, shouldn’t that also be wrong for both me and others? On the other hand, if they feel no guilt when they offend, why should I? And if they feel no guilt when they get offended, why should I?
Why am I so hard on myself? And why are others so hard on me?