Feeling hostility: the prelude to the end

Feeling hostility: the prelude to the end

In a situation of apparent peace, a friend, family member or partner declares war on us. What can we do in these cases?

Feeling hostility: the prelude to the end

Last update: 18 September, 2022

Feeling hostility consists in adopting an attitude of contempt towards one or more people, guided by the conscious intention to hurt. This intention can be put into practice in different ways, more or less explicit. In the form of gossip and slander and even verbal or physical assaults.

Suffering hostility from another person is a rather unpleasant emotional experience, because it does not arise from a situation of conflict, conflict or competition. And instead a feeling addressed to a person once loved, like a partner, a friend or a brother, an emotional dimension previously understood as "a land of peace".

Feeling hostility: what it means

The best way to understand hostility is to experience it, it is rarely forgotten. Feeling the object of attacks from which it is difficult to defend oneself because they are launched in an indirect and not very frank way, causes great discomfort. Mostly, when the injuries are caused by a person who is important to us.

Hostility can be experienced as:

  • An incessant and veiled attack or offense against our attitudes or opinions
  • The use of our words as a weapon against us. Having the feeling of being lured into a trap devised to make us "reveal" things we never wanted to say.
  • Criticism of aspects of our life that have little or nothing to do with the present situation. For example, when someone refers to details or experiences of our life, in front of other people and in our presence, without having consent.
  • Direct or indirect pressure to make us change our mind, without initiating any debate or dialogue on the matter.
  • Free assessments of our needs or our mood. A bit like being "psychoanalysed" without even asking.
  • Continuous comparisons with our life to make us understand that our problems "are nothing special", as well as our successes.
  • Point out how good they are with some people, underlining in a veiled way all the characteristics that we lack.
  • Being accused of not listening or of being "inaccessible".

These are some examples of how hostility can be experienced. There are so many forms of hostile behavior. And, of course, each attitude has equally different intensities and manifestations.

What causes a person to be hostile?

In many cases at the root of the hostility there is a lack of social skills. There is anger or resentment, but the person is unable to initiate and maintain an open and honest dialogue about what happened. It expresses itself, therefore, with the energy of anger or hostile irritation.

This attitude is by no means honest, since, rather than build, it destroys; and, rather than reaching out his hand, he hides it.

Feeling hostility: a harmful and ineffective form of communication

It is generally difficult to empathize with a person who behaves hostile. Sometimes, though, it's not about having to be empathetic, it's about stimulate her to reflect and recommend psychological help.

Third party intervention can lead to channeling anger in ways other than hostile behavior and resentment. Let's look at some causes of hostility, both overt and hidden:

  • Many people who engage in hostile behavior experienced neglect or abuse trauma in early childhood. They don't want to be aware of the pain this causes in them or they don't know what to do about it.
  • Psychological wounds can originate in impulsiveness, anger, or sarcasm. In many cases, hostile people ignore the long-term consequences of their disrespect.
  • People with hostile behavior do not have the skills for effective communication. They have been involved in repeated conflicts where the solution was to "win" or, alternatively, feel deeply humiliated.
  • They confuse frankness with offense. They are not sure when or why making certain comments can be out of place; they also don't understand when their behavior generates tension.
  • They often fail to notice that their social needs are failing, which further lowers their self-esteem.
  • They do not expect the person they torment to face them. When this happens, they don't give much room for self-criticism or reflection, but rather exacerbate hostility.

All these factors cause mutual aversion, lack of respect and trust that push away the resolution of problems, forgiveness and authentic collaboration.

To conclude

If hostility is a habit in your life, stop for a moment and try to choose a more cordial approach. The help of a professional in this can prove invaluable.

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