Do you notice when people say or do things that hurt you, you don’t tell them? Why not?

By Dr. Dina Evan

We live in such odd times but one of the gifts is to notice if we are doing things we have continued to do since we were born, as if the rules for how to be in life are written in stone somewhere. In addition to being a therapist, I am also a minister, and have had the privilege of marrying many couples including 10,000 gay men and women on the steps of the I.R.S in a demonstration for equal rights.
I have officiated at funerals many times and listened to the wonderful stories and shared experiences loved one have had with the deceased. But the question that has come up recently is, have we said the same things to our loved ones while they are alive — and did the deceased know how we felt about them before they left? Why do we wait until our loved ones are gone to tell them the sacred truths and give our gifts of love?
Do you notice that when people say or do things that hurt you, you don’t tell them? Why not? Are we afraid they will be offended? Are we afraid to lose them? Are we afraid it will anger them? If that’s true then the real issue is we don’t have the tools to say it in a safe way which is not offensive.
Here are a few safe tools so we can step into being fully authentic and begin to speak truth to those we care about the most.
The first tool is to totally eliminate the word YOU from the conversation completely. Say whatever you want to say from an ‘I’ space. For instance, you call a friend or family member at 8:45 p.m. and sense they are irritated every time. So, the next time you see them, simply say, “You know, I get the sense it isn’t convenient for me to call you after 8:00 pm, what would help me is if I could know what your best times to call are.”
Another more difficult issue might be that you feel as if your partner isn’t really into have sex with you any longer. So you say, Honey I never doubt how much we love each other and I would really like to bring more excitement into our intimate times. I thought it might be fun to make a list of what we are currently doing we like and what we don’t enjoy as much, and also think of some new ways to spice it up a bit. Then let’s get together and talk about it. Are you game?” Notice we never use the word you in either of these examples because YOU immediately, puts your partner on the defensive and makes them feel at fault or accused.
There are many other places we have difficulty being our real selves and telling our truth. In many homes the attitude is, their path, their issue…not my business. And not also very loving if we have information that may help and we withhold it. But, how do we reconcile support with ignoring the fact someone you love is hurting themselves? One way is to offer support with the acknowledgement their decisions are theirs to make and you will respect them. For instance, we have people in our family who listen to the dark information on the internet about the COVID and are refusing to get vaccinated. I simply said to this person, “You know how much I love you and I respect your decision to do what you feel is right for yourself and your family. But I would like to ask if I can share a thought I have about it before you make a final decision.” The answer was yes. So I simply said, “One of the things that helped me to make my decision is I realized the people who are vaccinated are not in hospitals dying. Only those who are not vaccinated are becoming ill and dying with this pandemic and I wondered if you had noticed this as well.” That was it. I felt as if I had offered support before it was too late and the person still made his or her own decision.
One of the things that has come out of this era stronger for me is the life-long question, I am forever asking myself, only now the voice is louder. That question is, “Am I doing what I came here to do and being who I came here to be?” If at any time, your answer is “no,” …then what are we waiting for?
Dr. Evan is a marriage, family, child therapist and consciousness counselor. She has presented nationwide seminars and workshops, written several books and created meditation CDs for couples, individual and mental health professionals. She has also won national acclaim as a human rights advocate. Visit or call 602-571-8228.