How can someone do something like that?

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So many times people ask me, “How could someone do that?” They wonder how someone can act inconsistent with common values and/or social mores. They cannot reconcile in their heads how this can be, especially when they are talking about someone who hurt them. They could be talking about the soldiers in the Serbian concentration camp, their partner who cheated on them repeatedly or a man who raped them. Several people I have met with feel like it is important to make sense of the senselessness. It is as if the ‘Senselessness’ of it keeps them in a distracted place of confusion and frustration. They perpetually ask themselves ‘why’s and ‘how’s on a gerbil wheel of thoughts getting them nowhere. As if they could figure out Why? their view of the world would be organized and peaceful once again. In other words, if they could make sense of it, they can heal.

how could someone do something like that?Actually, this interests me a great deal. The knowledges and assumptions of these aforementioned people—that there are benefits to “making sense” of things that happen to them– have been well validated by trauma research. The way we make meaning around events affects a great deal of how we feel about them and how we respond to them. For example, if we see it as senseless, we are confused, disoriented and may feel incomplete. Sometimes we conclude that we somehow caused it, because there is no other explanation. Conversely, if we interpret meaning even around a horrible of togetherness and helping each other- the negative effects of that event will lessen.

I also have a different perspective. Probably from doing this for so long or maybe from life lessons, but I understand that there are so many reasons why people do things. After hearing and witnessing so many things that humans are capable of doing, there is not much that surprises me.

People ask me, “Can you believe they said/did that?”

I think, “Yes, I can believe it. I’ve seen it all.”

This is not because I am jaded or skeptical or see the worst in humanity. Quite the contrary; I see the good and connectedness of all. And it is in seeing the good in all that can help me see why someone who is good can do something hurtful to others. (People aren’t totally good or totally bad.)

I can always see what could have prompted someone to do something. I don’t know if it is intuition or just an understanding how the simplest things can lead people astray temporarily. These ‘simplest things’ can really complicate a person’s life: things like poor self image, anxiety, self judgment, fear, and self doubt. These are not an excuse because people are responsible for their actions. However, if it is seen from this compassionate perspective, (rather than, “How could someone do that?” you’d think, “ That person must have been really scared to have done something like that…”) those of us who have been hurt stop blaming ourselves and stop being confused, so that we can use our brain space for healing instead.


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5 Comments

nikky44

“And it is in seeing the good in all that can help me see why someone who is good can do something hurtful to others” I said that two days ago, but I don’t remember on which blog, maybe mine? I have no idea, But it was my answer, maybe with a slight difference. everyone is good, but some act bad, react bad, or act very bad, as a result of something in them, or an external factor, but everyone is all good, and its up to each one to show and use that goodness, or not.Knowing that is what helps me love the person who hurts me as much or more than I can love another one. This person is suffering of the contradiction between his goodness and his actions, and needs Love, the only true help.
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Jodi Lobozzo Aman

You are right, but don’t expect to change him. He might change but has to choose it. And you can love, forgive or whatever from a safe distance. You can love and not be available for the abuse. Loving doesn’t mean you have to be abused. Forgiving doesn’t mean you take it, or stay, or be helpless. Read http://healnowandforever.net/2011/08/06/how-do-we-know-when-we-are-done-healing/ about if we are responsible for each others healing. This is what I want to tell you. You are not responsible. You can send him all the healing, but he has to chose it.

nikky44

I gave up long ago the idea of changing him or anyone else, not even my children. I show them what I believe is right, and the rest is up to them.
It’s true that loving doesn’t mean accepting the abuse, but leaving is betraying too? I am certainly not guilty the way he thinks i am, or the way he says it, but there must be a way i change not to provoke his anger?
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Jodi Lobozzo Aman

I don’t think so. His anger is provoke by something deep that has nothing to do with you. Something form his past, his souls past or his ancestors. This is what I mean by you are not responsible.

nikky44

I think I still need a lot of reading and thinking to understand it all. It is still confusing me.
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