Introvert Life

There Doesn’t Always Have to Be a Bad Guy

Sometimes people do shitty things. I’m people. You’re people.

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all done things and interacted in ways that do not make us proud. It is also very likely that we have been in the unfortunate position of someone not doing right by us. Both circumstances do not feel great when they occur. For me, intense feelings of guilt and shame accompany actions that feel like mistakes or wrong choices. I will quickly label myself as a bad person, even though I know I did not have any ill intent. When someone has wronged me, I will also find a way to blame myself and try to figure out why they did what they did at the same time. Who’s the bad guy?

The honest answer is, sometimes there isn’t one. We’re not always going to make the “right” choices all the time. We literally can’t. We can try to be as well-meaning as possible, but that’s subjective, and sometimes we do not know better. A decision that’s beneficial for you can hurt someone else. But in your mind, you thought you were going about things the right way. Life and people are weird like that. Acknowledging the impact of our actions is a vulnerability that helps everyone. That’s accountability. It doesn’t always feel good, but it’s crucial. Our egos want to protect us; but, the defense mechanisms are not squeaky clean. Pointing fingers and creating a narrative helps us feel safer, but the story we’re telling ourselves isn’t necessarily true. Realistically, we need to own our parts. Owning up to them doesn’t make you a bad person.

As an adult, when I think about my needs not being met, being denied requests, or having my feelings hurt, I think about what part I may have played while simultaneously seeking acknowledgment. I can admit that I didn’t know what I needed. I kept up behaviors that were contradictory to how I felt. I had expectations and expected people to read my mind as I seemingly did theirs. It sucks! But as they say, when you know better, you do better.

Did I always communicate? Not at all. Do I want them to acknowledge their harm? Yes. Are they now the villain in my life story? No way! Do I get to decide how I would like to navigate my relationship with them? Yes, absolutely! Becoming more conscious of actions and behaviors that impact me makes me more aware, but it does not change my thoughts on their character or my own. We’re just different people. Different people that sometimes do sucky things.

Relational conflicts are unsettling. None of us know what we’re doing and are trying our best. We have to work together to figure these things out. There’s a lot of information in a conflict that can help us with our future. No one is above learning something new about themselves and unlearning old patterns. When we hold each other accountable, it is an act of love, not blame or an attack. We can recognize that we are hurting and not turn the other person into a monster.

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