Sam Radford

May 19, 2022

Harming others without realising it

‘When Things Fall Apart’ by Pema Chödrön has been on my radar for a while now. But it’s sat on my reading list without ever making it to the top. This week I started reading it though, and it’s full of wisdom! Challenging too.

I appreciate when a book calls me out on my shit and I’m in a place to receive it, learn from it, and grow. That’s how I felt when reading this paragraph on the ways in which we can be unaware of how we are causing harm to others:

As we become more wholehearted in this journey of gentle honesty, it comes as quite a shock to realize how much we’ve blinded ourselves to some of the ways in which we cause harm. Our style is so ingrained that we can’t hear when people try to tell us, either kindly or rudely, that maybe we’re causing some harm by the way we are or the way we relate with others. We’ve become so used to the way we do things that somehow we think that others are used to it too.

Reading that instantly brought a recurring scenario to mind for me. I like to think that I rarely resort to shouting when it comes to getting frustrated with my kids. I might raise my voice, but I don’t endlessly yell at them. Still, even when I (in my mind) ‘merely’ raise my voice at my girls, they often will end up saying, ‘I don’t like it when you shout, Daddy’. 

Truthfully, I get pretty defensive. I will say how I don’t like having to raise my voice. And that it’d help if they’d just do what I ask! All told though, I’m reluctant to admit to any or much wrongdoing on my own part.

This paragraph challenged that! ’...it comes as quite a shock to realize how much we’ve blinded ourselves to some of the ways in which we cause harm.’ Yup.

Even if I think I’m only ‘raising my voice’ the girls hear that as me shouting. 

'Our style is so ingrained that we can’t hear when people try to tell us, either kindly or rudely, that maybe we’re causing some harm by the way we are or the way we relate with others.’

Again, yes. They’ve been telling me, I couldn’t hear it.

And that’s just one area of my life where I am now starting to recognise the ways in which my manner is harmful to others. How many more am I yet to discover?

Hopefully, for you reading this, you may get your own nudge, helping you recognise an area where you are perhaps harming others without realising it.

The point is not to beat ourselves up about it; it’s about a journey of ‘gentle honesty’ with ourselves. That’s how we keep growing as people.

—Sam

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