About ten years ago, I took on a new Prime Directive: Try to hurt people as little as possible. Sometimes I'm better at it than others. But I used to inflict pain on pretty much everyone in my path (intentionally or not). These were my "reasons" for hurting people.***
  1. I was afraid of them.
  2. I wanted them to love me, but they didn't.
  3. If they weren't going to love me back, I wanted them to at least be impacted by me.
  4. They seemed more vulnerable than me, which reminded me of my own vulnerability, which I hated and was disgusted by.
  5. They seemed more vulnerable than me, which made me believe I could get away with hurting them without consequence.
  6. They seemed more vulnerable than me, and hurting them made me feel powerful, and diverted attention from how weak I felt all the time.
  7. They seemed happier than me, and I wanted them to hurt like I did. Because then I wouldn't feel so alone and isolated in my pain.
  8. They seemed happier than me, which felt like some kind of arrogant repudiation of my worldview ("I'm the victim of a cruel world where happiness is impossible").
  9. They seemed superior to me, and I wanted to prove we're all equal - by "bringing them down a notch," i.e. forcing them to experience hurt.
  10. I wanted to feel any connection to them whatsoever, but if I just came out and said that, they'd be disgusted by me.
  11. They reminded me of people who had hurt me in the past, and hurting them felt like justice.
  12. I wanted to cover up my own lies and poor behavior by lashing out at them and pushing them away, which would conveniently prevent them from learning about my lies and poor behavior.
  13. They would not conform to my will, no matter how compellingly I argued they should - until I reached an impasse where I didn't know how to express my frustration except by hurting them.
  14. They were beautiful and I wasn't.
  15. They were getting all the love in the room and I wasn't.
  16. Someone said something I disagreed with, and I wanted them to feel ashamed, and be afraid to express themselves again.
  17. I wanted to "protect" them by showing them that the world was cruel and unsafe, and preparing them for it with a "manageable" dose of hurt.
  18. I got excited/ felt sick to my stomach/ got a metallic, adrenaline-flood sensation in the back of my neck from being hurtful - and I was essentially addicted to that sensation.
  19. I told myself they were so subhuman/ beneath me that they wouldn't really feel it.
  20. I told myself that they were so superhuman/ above me that they wouldn't really feel it.
  21. I told myself that they were exactly like me, and I was hurting all the time, and I could "handle" it... so why couldn't they?
  22. I simply felt like being hurtful, and not giving into that impulse would be "inauthentic."
  23. I hurt people because I was taught that the only way anyone truly learns anything is through punishment.
  24. *** Needless to say, hurting people never "worked" - i.e. solved the problem, taught someone a lesson, etc. EVERY item on this list turned out to be faulty thinking, and better addressed through compassion and honesty.
    Thank God!