I Couldn’t Help But Laugh – But I Didn’t Know the Hurt I Caused

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I couldn’t help but overhear as my friend edited the video they had just recorded for their business. I laughed out loud as I heard them redoing their introduction on the recording for the fourth time. What I didn’t know was that my laugh had triggered their core wound.

A little while later, they shared that they would have laughed, too, but my reaction made them feel like giving up. Making this video was hard for them, and my laugh depleted the little self-confidence they had left. I quickly apologized and said I was impressed that they were pushing through despite the challenges.

Before I learned about core wounds and before I started my journey in positive psychology, my response would have been different. I probably would have thought their sensitivity to my laugh was ridiculous. I wonder if I would have apologized, and I doubt I would have had much empathy.

But now I’m realizing that we all have core wounds that make us feel overly hurt or upset by seemingly little comments or challenges.

Core wounds are often due to an emotionally significant event in childhood. As little children, we are trusting and defenseless. We take people’s words and comments as truths, not as human reactions to their own emotions and imperfections. We can experience deep hurts that stay with us into adulthood. These often turn into one of the common saboteurs as described in Positive Intelligence.

We may not even be aware these core wounds exist. Or if we have significant self-awareness, we may wonder about feeling unusually strong emotions to simple comments or experiences. “Why did their words make me so upset?”

We seldom know other people’s core wounds and they may not even share how much our off-hand comment hurts them. But I’m trying to remember that we all have past hurts and tender spots that are easily triggered. So when someone has an unusually strong reaction or seems upset, I try to pause, notice my internal reaction, and choose to stay calm. It’s going to take some practice, but when I choose empathy, life is so much better!

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