Getting over hurt feelings

Nobody can hurt me without my permission. – Mohandas Gandhi


Are You Feeling Hurt?

Life is often a roller-coaster ride of emotions. It’s full of ups and downs and filled with an array of unexpected surprises. It’s nice to think that we will always be happy and fulfilled, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

The odds are stacked against us. In fact, sooner or later things won’t entirely turn out as you had expected and you will get hurt along the way.

However, feeling hurt isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s kind of a “wake-up call” that encourages you to travel down a different path that could ultimately bring you a greater sense of fulfillment, joy, and happiness.

Here Are the Reasons Why You’re Feeling Hurt…

Have you ever considered the reasons why you’re feeling hurt?

If you reflect on this for a moment, what you will typically find is that the vast majority of these reasons are actually based on your perspective of the situation. In other words, you are actually aggravating your feelings by thinking a certain way about the situation.

The key is, of course, to transform how you think about the situation. And the moment you consciously choose to shift your perspective of the situation you will begin seeing things anew — in more empowering ways.

Given this, feeling hurt is often nothing more than a state-of-mind — an interpretation you have made about your experience.

Let’s now quickly take a look at some reasons why you might be feeling hurt in the first place. You’re feeling hurt because…

  • Someone did something or behaved a certain way that goes against what you believe of expected of them, and this has subsequently hurt your feelings.
  • Of the impatience shown by another person in a specific situation. You perceive their impatience as a personal attack on you, and this has caused you to feel miserable.
  • You have a victim mentality. You feel sorry for yourself and sorry for your life. Everything that happens to you seems like a direct personal attack.
  • You have an unmet need for self-love. This “need” is craving for love and attention from others. This makes you very susceptible to people’s opinions and criticism.
  • You feel as though you’ve been betrayed, disrespected, rejected, deceived, let down, or unfairly accused or criticized.
  • You lack attention to detail. Something has happened. However, things aren’t clear — there’s a misunderstanding resulting from miscommunication.

Going down this list, it’s quite clear to see how your feelings of being hurt result from a combination of how you perceive a situation and how you’re interpreting how others have responded to you throughout the day.

You, of course, have complete control over your perceptions and can, therefore, change them at will. However, what you don’t have control over are other people’s opinions, behaviors, and words.

People will at times say and do things that will hurt you. However, often these things have nothing to do with you but are rather based on people’s own insecurities and personal problems.

Given this, it’s imperative that you don’t take things personally, and instead practice detaching yourself from these emotional experiences.

The Consequences of Feeling Hurt

Being overly sensitive to other people’s feelings, actions, and opinions can often put a significant strain on your relationships. In fact, your hurt feelings can pile up over time, which can ultimately lead to resentment, then anger, then sadness, and finally a deep state of depression.

Moreover, it will seduce you to hold onto grudges, to seek revenge, to lose all faith and trust in people, and to wallow in cynicism and self-pity.

All this, of course, stems from the fact that you’re taking things too seriously and personally.

Everything another person does is interpreted as a direct attack on you, on your values, beliefs, and on your personality. You kind of feel as though other people are out to get you — as though the world is after you. However, this is rarely ever the case. Your perceptions are simply clouding your judgment and subsequently triggering your hurt feelings.

In the event that another person did actually hurt you on purpose — in such scenarios, it’s important to remember that frequently people hurt us because they too are in pain or hurting in some way.

The moment you recognize this is the moment you can act with compassion rather than in anger or any other way that could aggravate the situation further.

A 4-Step Process for Overcoming Hurt

Overcoming hurt feelings isn’t easy. It takes patience and time to work through these emotional wounds. However, it’s certainly possible and can be done.

Here is a four-step process you can use to work through your hurt feelings in common sense and practical ways.

Step 1: Settle Down Your Emotions

The moment you recognize you’re feeling hurt, it’s imperative to immediately settle yourself down to prevent your emotions from getting the better of you.

The best way to do this is to remove yourself from the situation and take time to calm your emotions and settle your mind.

This period of separation will prevent you from jumping to irrational conclusions about the situation. Just maybe, things aren’t as they seem.

At the very least, this separation will help you avoid further conflict that could potentially aggravate your emotions and/or your relationship with the other person.

Step 2: Get Very Clear About What Exactly Happened

Now that you’re alone, it’s imperative that you take time to reflect on the events that just transpired.

Try to understand what exactly happened, what the person said or did, and how events transpired. Moreover, reflect on your own behavior, reactions, and the emotions you’re feeling at the moment. Ask yourself:

What happened?

How did I initially feel about this situation?

What was my initial response to this situation?

Why did I respond this way?

How am I feeling at this very moment?

Why am I feeling this way?

These questions will help you pinpoint what exactly is happening on the surface.

Your hurt feelings though might actually go a little deeper than surface level experiences.

For instance, just maybe, your feelings of hurt have nothing to do with this moment but rather stem back to a culmination of events that have taken place over a period of time. Ask yourself:

What is really causing my feelings of hurt?

Do these feelings of hurt go beyond these events?

What could be the underlying cause of my feelings?

What important insights do I gain from this assessment?

If you recognize that your feelings of hurt do not necessarily stem from this particular situation, then you have some work to do on a personal level to resolve the past feelings that are actually causing you pain.

Given this, it’s important that you take into consideration your past hurts throughout this period of self-reflection.

Let’s now take the time to consider the other person’s perspective of the situation. Let’s explore why they did what they did. Ask yourself:

What was the other person trying to do?

Why did they do or say these things?

What are they trying to gain from this situation?

Did they just hurt me, or did they also hurt other people as well?

What could’ve triggered their words and/or behavior? Was it stress? Was it something else?

Now, take time to consider possible misunderstandings that might’ve taken place. Consider also the other person’s real intentions in this situation. Could it be possible that your assumptions about the other person’s intentions might be wrong? Ask yourself:

Did they hurt me intentionally?

Am I potentially misreading this person’s intentions?

What could their real intentions be in this situation?

Do they have my best interests at heart?

What if there is a misunderstanding here?

What information will I need from the other person to clarify this situation?

It’s possible that the other person got caught up in the heat of the moment and said or did things they didn’t truly mean.

Likewise, it’s also possible that they are going through pain themselves. They are hurting, and unfortunately misdirecting their energy onto you. This should, therefore, indicate that their words and actions have absolutely nothing to do with you, but rather all to do with their own personal insecurities. Ask yourself:

Could they be hurting in some way?

What could be the source of their pain?

How could I best get them to open up and talk about their feelings?

Finally, it’s important that you re-evaluate your expectations of the circumstances and the people involved. Ask yourself:

What did I expect should’ve happened in this situation?

What did I expect the other person should’ve done?

Are my expectations realistic? Are they helpful?

What if I had different expectations? How would that help?

You’re feeling hurt because in one way or another your expectations weren’t entirely actualized.

There’s, of course, nothing wrong with that. However, it certainly doesn’t help if you have a set of unrealistic expectations that will rarely if ever be satisfied.

In such instances, you need to work through your expectations and bring them back to reality. Otherwise, it’s possible you’re always going to end up getting hurt.

Step 3: Resolve Your Feelings of Hurt

Having spent some time reflecting on the situation, it’s now an opportune time to approach the other person to resolve your feelings of hurt and maybe even clarify possible misunderstandings.

Just maybe, you’re seeing things all wrong and completely misinterpreting the person and/or the situation. The key is to be open to the possibilities, and willing to fully understand the other person’s point of view and true intentions.

When approaching the other person about this situation, it’s imperative to always think before you speak. Don’t say things that you will regret.

The key is to have a general idea of what you will say in advance. Once you have this in mind, talk about these things openly and graciously by acknowledging your feelings, acknowledging the other person’s feelings, all the while discussing the events that transpired.

It’s, of course, paramount that you do not become argumentative or aggressive. Likewise, it’s critical that you do not blame, judge or accuse the other person of doing or not doing something. Instead, be assertive, yet humble and focused on gaining clarity about the circumstances. The more information you have, the better insights you will gather.

Finally, don’t force the other person to make an apology. This will rarely work, but when it does, it won’t be genuine and is likely to create more friction than harmony.

Instead, talk things through and help the other person see the situation through your eyes.

If they end up apologizing, then accept their apology. You don’t have to forgive them, but accept that they are at the very least trying to do the right thing.

Step 4: Time to Make a Decision

You should now have all the information you need to make a decision to either move past these circumstances and forgive the other person or to simply let go of your relationship and distance yourself from this person.

The decision you make will depend entirely on how much insight you gain from step-3 of this process. However, no matter what you choose to do, it’s vital that you accept what has happened and allow your feelings of hurt subside.

Suggestions for Overcoming Hurt

Feelings of hurt are never easy or straightforward to deal with. They are very personal and make us feel miserable and worthless. However, there are certain things you can do that will help you to minimize these feelings.

The suggestions that follow will hopefully lay down the groundwork to help you work through your hurt feelings far more effectively.

Focus on Your Blessings

When you’re feeling hurt, it’s easy to blow things out of proportion and make certain of aspects of your life larger and more important then they should be.

You get so caught up in your feelings of hurt that nothing else seems to matter. However, things do matter. And in fact, if you take time to truly think about it, there are probably a lot of things that matter, and a lot of things that you can actually be grateful for.

When feeling hurt, focus on your blessings, and on the things you are most grateful for. This will hopefully put your feelings into proper context. It may even help you re-prioritize and shift your focus onto more important and meaningful things that will bring you a greater array of happiness and fulfillment in the long-run.

Focus on Your Strengths

To find direction during moments of hurt, it’s important that you remind yourself of your strengths and of all the things that have brought you to this point in your life.

Your strengths might come in the form of optimism, faith, patience, forgiveness, honesty, compassion, self-belief, etc. These are the things that will get you through this challenging period of your life. In fact, these qualities can help you regain the self-confidence you need to move beyond this painful experience.

It’s therefore, important to re-direct your energies away from what’s hurting you, and instead refocus on your strongest qualities. These are the qualities that can help you get through this challenging situation in optimal ways.

Let Go of Past Hurts

Are you holding onto things that hurt you years ago? Maybe, you’re holding onto these hurts because you feel as though you were unjustly wronged in some way. However, what’s the point? Can you do anything about these hurts right here, right now? If you can’t, then what’s the point of holding onto them?

Whatever happened in the past, occurred in the past. Let go of these things and move on with your life.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that you should forget about everything that happened. In fact, don’t you dare forget these critical moments of your life. Learn from these experiences, and use them to make better decisions in the present. However, don’t allow your past hurts to haunt and aggravate the life you’re living today.

Make an Effort to Smile More Often

Being hurt is a state-of-mind. You are feeling hurt because you perceive events, circumstances, and people’s intentions in a certain way that makes you feel absolutely miserable.

Is it possible that another person might see things a little differently? What hurts you might not even phase them. It’s all a state-of-mind.

To transform your state-of-mind, try smiling a little more and see how that changes how you feel about the situation. Maybe your feelings of hurt will turn into curiosity. And when this happens, a whole new world of possibilities will open up for you.

Always Accept Responsibility

Your pain feels at its worst when you feel as though you had very little control over the situation.

In such a scenario, you feel as though someone else is to blame and you become the victim of circumstance. This makes you feel somewhat powerless and makes it very difficult to move past your feelings of hurt.

One way to instantly feel better about yourself is to accept responsibility for what happened and for how events transpired.

In fact, you probably in some way — directly or indirectly — played a part in creating this situation. Recognize this. You are at least partly responsible for what happened, and this is a good thing, because with responsibility comes the willingness to instigate positive change.

Once you feel at least partly responsible, this gives you the strength you need to potentially make things better — to right the wrongs.

You now have the power to mend your relationships and lay down a path for a more positive future.

Surround Yourself with Inspiring People

One of the best ways to make yourself feel better almost instantly is to talk about your feelings with other people.

Have a chat with a close family member or friend and explain what happened. Get their perspective and opinion about the situation, and maybe even work with them to try and resolve your feelings.

There is no telling how much better you will feel once you get things off your chest. And who knows, maybe the other person can convince you that there’s actually nothing really here that justifies the need to feel hurt. And just perhaps that’s all you need to help you move forward in optimal ways through this period of your life.

Don’t Take Things So Personally

You will always end up feeling hurt if you continue to take things personally.

Sometimes people say and do things because they are trying to work through their own personal insecurities and problems. In fact, what they say and do might have very little — if anything — to do with you, and all to do with the issues they’re struggling with.

For this reason, it’s crucial that you step “outside yourself” during moments of hurt and look at the full picture from their perspective as well as from an outsider’s viewpoint.

Doing so will help you recognize that there’s nothing really here to feel hurt about. Instead, show a little compassion for the other person and try to help them work through their own personal insecurities.

People Make Mistakes

Sooner or later someone will hurt you. There’s no avoiding this. It will happen. However, more often then not, people won’t hurt you intentionally. People just make mistakes.

People make blunders and errors, and end up regretting some of the things they do and say.

Of course, they might not always own up to these mistakes. To do so would wound their pride.

What they need is a little compassion and understanding, and maybe even a little bit patience on your part. Eventually, they will come around and admit their mistakes, but it might take some time.

Be there for them and accept them wholeheartedly, because you might very well be in their shoes at some point in the future.

Concluding Thoughts

Every hurt you experience gives you an opportunity to learn more about yourself. It gives you a chance to learn more about your values, rules and personal expectations.

It gives you an opportunity to learn more about others and about how you relate to other people socially and intimately.

It gives you insight into people’s motives, feelings, and intentions. It even helps you get to know yourself and your emotional tendencies at a far more profound level.

And as you learn, you grow, and as you grow, you will make better choices and decisions in the future, which will help you to manage and minimize your feelings of hurt far more effectively.

Time to Assimilate these Concepts


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Gain More Knowledge…

Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:

  • 6 Ways to Overcome Your Painful Past @ Psych Central
  • 7 Practical Strategies to Overcome Emotional Pain @ Psychology Today
  • 10 Happiness Tips for People Who Have Been Hurt @ Tiny Buddha
  • 15 Unavoidable Stages You Go Through After You Get Hurt @ Bustle
  • How to Deal with Hurt, Heart-Ache, and Loss @ Upgrade Reality
  • How to Let Go of the Fear of Being Hurt Again @ Tiny Buddha
  • Learning to Let Go of Past Hurts: 5 Ways to Move On @ Psych Central
  • Overcoming the Pain of Emotional Hurt @ Calm Down Mind
  • Why Emotional Pain Hurts So Much @ HubPages
  • Why You Should Never Go Back to Someone Who’s Hurt You @ Elite Daily

Fuck Your Feelings

Look, I know you think the fact you feel upset or angry or anxious is important. That it matters. Hell, you probably think that because you feel like your face just got shat on makes you important. But it doesn’t. Feelings are just these… things that happen. The meaning we build around them–what we decide is important or unimportant–comes later.

There are only two reasons to do anything in life: a) because it feels good, or b) because it’s something you believe to be good or right. Sometimes these two reasons align. Something feels good AND is the right thing to do and that’s just fucking fantastic. Let’s throw a party and eat cake.

But more often, these two things don’t align. Something feels shitty but is right/good (getting up at 5AM and going to the gym, hanging out with grandma Joanie for an afternoon and making sure she’s still breathing), or something feels fucking great but is the bad/wrong thing to do (pretty much anything involving penises).

Acting based on our feelings is easy. You feel it. Then you do it. It’s like scratching an itch. There’s a sense of relief and cessation that comes along with it. It’s a quick satisfaction. But then that satisfaction is gone just as quickly as it came.

Acting based on what’s good/right is difficult. For one, knowing what is good/right is not always clear.1 You often have to sit down and think hard about it. Often we have to feel ambivalent about our conclusions or fight through our lower impulses.

But when we do what’s good/right, the positive effects last much longer. We feel pride remembering it years later. We tell our friends and family about it and give ourselves cute little awards and put shit on our office walls and say, “Hey! I did that!” when our co-workers come in and ask why we have a trophy with a goat catching a frisbee on our bookshelf (don’t ask).

The point is: doing what is good/right builds self-esteem and adds meaning to our lives.

Your Tricky Brain

So we should just ignore our feelings and just do what is good/right all the time then, right? It’s simple.

Well, like many things in life, it is simple. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy.

The problem is that the brain doesn’t like to feel conflicted about its decision making. It doesn’t like uncertainty or ambiguity and will do mental acrobatics to avoid any discomfort. And our brain’s favorite way to do this is to always try to convince itself that whatever feels good is the same as what is good/right.

So you know you shouldn’t eat that ice cream. But your brain says, “Hey, you had a hard day, a little bit won’t kill ya.” And you’re like, “Hey, you’re right! Thanks, brain!” What feels good suddenly feels right. And then you shamelessly inhale a pint of Cherry Garcia.

You know you shouldn’t cheat on your exam, but your brain says, “You’re working two jobs to put yourself through college, unlike these spoiled brats in your class. You deserve a little boost from time-to-time,” and so you sneak a peek at your classmate’s answers and voila, what feels good is also what feels right.

You know you should vote, but you tell yourself that the system is corrupt, and besides, your vote won’t matter anyway. And so you stay home and play with your new drone that’s probably illegal to fly in your neighborhood. But fuck it, who cares? This is America and the whole point is to get fat doing whatever you want. That’s like, the sixth amendment, or something.2

If you do this sort of thing long enough–if you convince yourself that what feels good is the same as what is good–then your brain will actually start to mix the two up. Your brain will start thinking the whole point of life is to just feel really awesome, as often as possible.

And once this happens, you’ll start deluding yourself into believing that your feelings actually matter. And once that happens, well…

Now, if this is rubbing you the wrong way right now, just think about it for a second. Everything that’s screwed up in your life, chances are it got that way because you were too beholden to your feelings. You were too impulsive. Or too self-righteous and thought yourself the center of the universe. Feelings have a way of doing that, you know? They make you think you’re the center of the universe. And I hate to be the one to tell you, but you’re not.

A lot of young people hate hearing this because they grew up with parents who worshipped their feelings as children, and protected those feelings, and tried to buy as many candy corns and swimming lessons as necessary to make sure those feelings were nice and fuzzy and protected at all times.

Sadly, these parents probably did this because they were also beholden to their own feelings, because they were unable to tolerate the pain of watching a child struggle, even if just for a moment. They didn’t realize that children need some controlled measure of adversity to develop cognitively and emotionally, that experiencing failure is actually what sets us up for success, and that demanding to feel good all the time is pretty much a first-class ticket to having no friends once you hit adulthood.

This is the problem with organizing your life around feelings:

  1. Your feelings are self-contained. They are wholly and solely experienced only by you. Your feelings can’t tell you what’s best for your mother or your career or your neighbor’s dog. They can’t tell you what’s best for the environment. Or what’s best for the next parliament of Lithuania. All they can do is tell you what’s best for you… and even that is debatable.

A poor philosophy for life.

  1. Your feelings are temporary. They only exist in the moment they arise. Your feelings cannot tell you what will be good for you in a week or a year or 20 years. They can’t tell you what was best for you when you were a kid or what you should have studied in school. All they can do is tell you what is best for you now… and even that is debatable.
  1. Your feelings are inaccurate. Ever been talking to a friend and thought you heard them say this horrible mean thing and start to get upset and then it turned out your friend didn’t say that horrible, mean thing at all, you just heard it wrong? Or ever get really jealous or upset with somebody close to you for a completely imagined reason? Like their phone dies and you start thinking they hate you and never liked you and were just using you for your Boy George tickets? Or ever been really excited to pursue something you thought was going to make you into a big bad ass but then later realized that it was all just an ego trip, and you pissed off a lot of people you cared about along the way? Feelings kind of suck at the whole truth thing. And that’s a problem.

Why It’s Hard to Get Over Your Own Feelings

Now, none of what I’m saying is really that surprising or new. In fact, you’ve probably tried to get over some of your own obnoxious feelings and impulses before and failed to do it.

The problem is when you start trying to control your own emotions, the emotions multiply. It’s like trying to exterminate rabbits. The fuckers just keep popping up all over the place.

Be vewy, vewy quiet, I’m trying to get rid of my fucking feelings.

This is because we don’t just have feelings about our experiences, we also have feelings about our feelings. I call these “meta-feelings” and they pretty much ruin everything.

There are four types of meta-feelings: feeling bad about feeling bad (self-loathing), feeling bad about feeling good (guilt), feeling good about feeling bad (self-righteousness), and feeling good about feeling good (ego/narcissism).

Here, let me put those into a pretty little table for you to stare at:

Meet Your Meta-Feelings

Feeling Bad About Feeling Bad (Self-Loathing)

– Excessive self-criticism
– Anxious/Neurotic behavior
– Suppression of emotions
– Engage in a lot of fake niceness/politeness
– Feeling as though something is wrong with you.

Feeling Bad About Feeling Good (Guilt)

– Chronic guilt and feeling as though you don’t deserve happiness.
– Constant comparison of yourself to others
– Feeling as though something should be wrong, even if everything is great.
– Unnecessary criticism and negativity.

Feeling Good About Feeling Bad (Self-Righteousness)

– Moral indignation
– Condescension towards others
– Feeling as though you deserve something others don’t.
– Seeking out a constant sense of powerlessness and victimization.

Feeling Good About Feeling Good (Ego/Narcissism)

– Self-congratulatory
– Chronically overestimate yourself; a delusionally-positive self-perception
– Unable to handle failure or rejection
– Avoids confrontation or discomfort
– Constant state of self-absorption

Meta-feelings are part of the stories we tell ourselves about our feelings. They make us feel justified in our jealousy. They applaud us for our pride. They shove our faces in our own pain.

They’re basically the sense of what is justified/not justified. They’re our own acceptance of how we should respond emotionally and how we shouldn’t.

But emotions don’t respond to shoulds. Emotions suck, remember?

And so instead, these meta-feelings have the tendency to rip us apart inside, even further.

If you always feel good about feeling good, you will become self-absorbed and feel entitled to those around you. If feeling good makes you feel bad about yourself, then you’ll become this walking, talking pile of guilt and shame, feeling as though you deserve nothing, have earned nothing, and have nothing of value to offer to the people or the world around you.

And then there are those who feel bad about feeling bad. These “positive thinkers” will live in fear that any amount of suffering indicates that something must be sorely wrong with them. This is the Feedback Loop from Hell that many of us are thrust into by our culture, our family and the self-help industry at large.

But perhaps the worst meta-feeling is increasingly the most common: feeling good about feeling bad. People who feel good about feeling bad get to enjoy a certain righteous indignation. They feel morally superior in their suffering, that they are somehow martyrs in a cruel world. These self-aggrandizing victimhood trend-followers are the ones who want to shit on someone’s life on the internet, who want to march and throw shit at politicians or businessmen or celebrities who are merely doing their best in a hard, complex world.

Much of the social strife that we’re experiencing today is the result of these meta-feelings. Moralizing mobs on both the political right and left see themselves as victimized and somehow special in every miniscule pain or setback they experience. Greed skyrockets while the rich congratulate themselves on being rich in tandem with the increasing rates of anxiety and depression as the lower and middle classes hate themselves for feeling left behind.

These narratives are spun not only by ourselves but fed by the narratives invented in the media. Right-wing talk show hosts stoke the flames of self-righteousness, creating an addiction to irrational fears that people’s society is crumbling around them. Political memes on the left create the same self-righteousness, but instead of appealing to fear, they appeal to intellect and arrogance. Consumer culture pushes you to make decisions based on feeling great and then congratulates you for those decisions, while our religions tell us to feel bad about how bad we feel.

Control Meaning, Not Emotions

To unspin these stories we must come back to a simple truth: feelings don’t necessarily mean anything. They merely mean whatever you allow them to mean.

Maybe I’m sad today. Maybe there are eight different reasons I can be sad today. Maybe some of them are important and some of them aren’t. But I get to decide how important those reasons are–whether those reasons state something about my character or whether it’s just one of those sad days.

This is the skill that’s perilously missing today: the ability to de-couple meaning from feeling, to decide that just because you feel something, it doesn’t mean life is that something.

Fuck your feelings. Sometimes, good things will make you feel bad. Sometimes, bad things will make you feel good. That doesn’t change the fact that they are good/bad. Sometimes, you will feel bad about feeling good about a bad thing and you will feel good about feeling bad about a good thi–you know what? Fuck it. Just fuck feelings.

This doesn’t mean you should ignore your feelings. Feelings are important. But they’re important not for the reasons we think they are. We think they’re important because they say something about us, about the world, and about our relationship with it. But they say none of these things. There’s no meaning attached to feelings. Sometimes you hurt for a good reason. Sometimes for a bad reason. And sometimes no reason at all. The hurt itself is neutral. The reason is separate.

The point is that you get to decide. And many of us have either forgotten or never realized that fact. But we decide what our pain means. Just as we decide what our successes expose.

And more often than not, any answer except one will tear you apart inside. And that answer is: nothing.

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Darrin Klimek There was a carpool mix-up: I thought it was my night to pick up the kids outside the gym; another parent thought it was his. “What happened?” he snarled, shaking his head. “Why are we both here right now?” As chauffeuring snafus go, this was small potatoes. It isn’t like we left our boys standing in the snow. So why am I still smarting over his tone of voice — five days later?

I admit, I can take things too personally. It’s even worse during the holidays when I’m in high-stress mode and every difficult-to-deal-with relative rolls into town. I spend far too much time anguishing over a friend’s remark at a Christmas party, or fretting about what I should or shouldn’t have said.

The hamster wheel in my head runs something like this: First, my feelings get hurt. (For example, I think, Why hasn’t my sister called in two weeks?) Then I begin to imagine all the reasons she might be mad at me. (Was it something I said? Shoot — I forgot her anniversary and now she’s upset.) Next, I get mad at her — and myself. (She always forgets my anniversary! Why am I worrying about this kind of nonsense?) After hours of circular thinking, I usually discover that nothing was wrong: My sister just got busy and didn’t have time to call.

I consider myself a sane, logical person, yet I fall into this cycle again and again. What gives? I’m happy to report that genetics may be to blame — scientists report that sensitivity runs rampant in certain family trees. And I’m not alone: 15 to 20 percent of the population is thin-skinned. The upside is that we’re highly in tune with people’s feelings. We’re the go-to gurus when friends are wrestling with a relationship problem or a sticky situation at work.

The downside: By reading too much into what others say or do, we can over-react to innocuous remarks. Some of us lash out, which just compounds the problem, while others (like me) say nothing but endlessly analyze. What’s more, brooding, which shrinks officially label “ruminating,” is linked to depression. While only a few of us get the “supersensitive” label, it doesn’t mean the rest of the world isn’t susceptible, too: “We’re all more vulnerable in areas that touch on how we define ourselves,” says Elaine Aron, Ph.D., a psychotherapist in San Francisco and author of The Highly Sensitive Person. So if your self-esteem is connected to your work performance, you’ll likely be more upset if a colleague jokes about your presentation than if your mother-in-law mentions your dusty window blinds.

In evolutionary terms, being sensitive to criticism could be a lifesaver. “Back when we were hunter-gatherers, being excluded from the group was very dangerous,” explains Aron. “You might’ve starved, or even gone insane from being ostracized. We are very social animals.” Our sensitivity to the negative opinions of others is so strong, she says, that we record these emotional wounds in the same part of the brain as actual physical pain.

Despite this primal instinct, people may be growing less sensitive over time, says Jerome Kagan, Ph.D., a psychology professor whose lab at Harvard has studied traits like sensitivity for decades. “That’s because so many more people live in cities today, which breeds anonymity and insensitivity to what others think. We have more rudeness in our society than people in the 18th century could’ve ever imagined.”

I’ll say. Today, Simon Cowell is considered a straight-shooting superstar for skewering performers on American Idol. Internet users and bloggers routinely lambaste other people’s posts for all to read, and road ragers feel entitled to humiliate people for neglecting to signal a lane change. Hurting people’s feelings has almost come to stand for honesty and authenticity. And you wonder why I’m so sensitive.

It turns out that my gender doesn’t help matters, either. “In general, women are taught to think about other people’s feelings much more than men are,” says Paul Wink, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Wellesley College, who has researched gender and sensitivity (among other personality traits). “So while it’s OK for men to be blunt, women are often expected to be warmer, more agreeable, and more invested in relationships. Because they’re more tactful, they’re also more likely to overreact to minor problems and remarks.”

So will I ever be able to get through a week without thinking, Was it something I said? Yes, says Kagan. “Sensitivity to others’ opinions of us is the most adjustable type of sensitivity,” he explains. (The two other varieties — reaction to external stimuli, such as noise and light, and to internal sensations, such as heart rate — are far more fixed.) Next time your feelings get hurt, try these retrain-your-brain strategies.

Find the Nearest Exit

When a comment stings you, breathe deeply several times, and then figure out a way to excuse yourself from the conversation (even if that means you have to make something up). Aron says this works because it incorporates the two main principles of anger management: Focusing on your breath distracts you from the initial surge of temper that follows a barb, and leaving the situation gives you time to form an appropriate response. “Most of us make poor word choices when our pulse goes above 100,” says Aron. She’s a big believer in the 24-hour rule — waiting a full day before responding, if at all. “In some cases, especially at work, revealing that a remark makes you feel defensive can really hurt you, by making you seem insecure.”

Look Who’s Talking

Suppose a colleague implies that you’re careless to let your 20-year-old daughter go on a road trip with her friends. Before you take the remark to heart, consider the source. How much does this person actually know about raising kids? How well does she know you or your daughter? Is she an over-parenter? “Then run the comment by someone who really knows what kind of a mother you are,” says Aron. “Maybe your critic has a point, and you’re reacting defensively because you agree with her. Or maybe she just doesn’t have a clue.”

Just This Once, Don’t Call a Friend

Researchers from the University of Missouri at Columbia tracked children and adolescents who shared their hurt feelings with friends, and came to a startling conclusion: The girls who “co-ruminated” the most had more supportive friendships, but also greater levels of anxiety and depression. “Excessive focus on problems probably makes them seem even bigger and harder to resolve,” says Amanda Rose, Ph.D., the lead author. “And it likely gets in the way of finding positive, healthy distractions,” such as reading a good book or going for a walk.

Check Your Ego

Supersensitivity is sometimes the result of “it’s all about me” syndrome. I confess, this is sometimes my issue. When my neighbor doesn’t wave back, I automatically start a mental checklist: Did my dogs get loose recently? Have my kids been blasting music? My close pals rib me about this. “Get over yourself, Sarah,” they’ll say. “Everything can’t be your fault.” Maybe my neighbor is simply lost in thought.

Meditate, Don’t Ruminate

Researchers from San Diego State University and the University of California at San Diego found that mindfulness meditation, which has been shown to treat stress, anxiety, and depression, is especially good at helping brooders stop replaying a hurtful remark over and over. I tried this strategy the other night after a heated spat with my 16-year-old. She had yelled, “You’re so sensitive, Mom! It makes it hard to tell you things.” Despite just writing an entire story on the subject, I shouted back, “That’s not true at all!” Feeling hurt, I slunk into the bedroom, dusted off an old meditation CD, and listened to the soothing music and gentle bells. Sure enough, after 15 minutes, I had regained enough composure to snicker at myself. I went back to the living room, tossed a pillow at her, and said, smiling, “OK, maybe I am a little sensitive.”

Sing Your Own Praises

Make a list of your strong suits. The more conscious you are of them, the less likely you’ll be to crumble when criticized. “Sensitive people often make the mistake of taking an insult as a criticism of their entire personality instead of just one tiny aspect of it,” says Aron. When I drove to my next carpool pickup, I road tested this technique. I thought to myself, I regret that I mixed up the dates last time — I wish I hadn’t wasted that father’s time. On the other hand, I’m pretty competent as a mother, wife, and wage earner. I compost. I vote. I floss. And I have to say, my Christmas decorations look pretty darn good this year. I felt better in seconds.

Choose Your Words Wisely

Keep these comebacks in your arsenal, for when you can’t resist responding to a zinger.

“Excuse me?” Asking someone to repeat a thoughtless comment is a graceful way to make them think twice about what they just said — and may help you catch their meaning in case it’s you who misunderstood.

“I wonder why you would say that.” This toned-down version of “What the heck was that supposed to mean?” challenges the person to reflect on his motives.

“Can you elaborate on what you said?” Asking people to spell out their opinion can prevent miscommunication and clear the air.

“Ouch! That hurts my feelings.” This lets someone know you’ve taken a comment personally, and lets her retract, amend, or apologize.

When you’re tempted to beat yourself up for being too sensitive this season, remember that it’s a strength, too. “When there are tensions that make everyone at the holiday party squirm,” says Helen Fisher, Ph.D., an anthropologist and author of Why We Love, “often, it’s the sensitive people who save the day by saying exactly the right thing.”

Sarah Mahoney Sarah Mahoney writes from her home in Durham, ME.

5 Ways to Deal With Hurt Feelings

No one teaches you how to cope with what hurts you directly. Maybe you always heard “Don’t cry,” “Time heals everything,” “It will pass”… but none of these phrases helped you. What’s more, they made you feel worse. Therefore, we decided to suggest 5 ways to deal with hurt feelings in this article.

Ignoring your hurt feelings is not an option. This feeling needs a direct confrontation, even if it hurts. You need to face so it doesn’t keep hurting for many years.

  1. Learn how to let go of hurt feelings

For this, you’ll only need a pencil or a small object that won’t break. Hold it in your hand and squeeze it hard, as hard as you can. Now, imagine that that object is your emotions, your thoughts, or that person that did you wrong.

At first, squeezing that object will be uncomfortable. But then, it will end up hurting your hand. When this happens, release and let that object, which you’ve visualized as everything that was hurting you, fall to the ground. Notice how you were able to let go. The same happens to all those feelings or people that have hurt you. You can let go of them.

When we hold on to certain situations, we consider that they’re already part of us even if they hurt us, and we don’t realize that we’re the ones choosing to suffer. However, you can let go at any time.

2. Think about how you talk to yourself

The second way to deal with hurt feelings is going to help you understand how you talk to yourself. Perhaps you believe that you do it in a positive way, but you’ll be surprised when you discover that you use more negative phrases and thoughts than you ever imagined. To better understand this, we’re going to give you an example.

Imagine that you’re in the gym and that someone starts a conversation with you. When you said goodbye, the other person replied “I’m happy to talk to you” and it took you a while to react. You get a little nervous and answer “Same here” a bit apprehensively. On the way to the lockers, you can’t stop thinking about how silly you were and how ridiculios you are when you talk to other people.

Being aware of these situations is the important thing. Is standing in front of a mirror and telling yourself “What were you thinking?” positive? You’ll realize how much you knock your self-esteem down over and over again without being aware of it.

3. Anchor yourself to the present

Another way to deal with hurt feelings is to anchor yourself to the present. You most likely have heard about the mindfulness technique. It can help you dwell on the present and forget about the past and the future for a moment since that is where you experience pain.

Choose something you want to experience for a week. For example, on Monday, how you breathe; on Tuesday, how your feet step on the ground; on Wednesday, how water flows on your skin when you wash your hands, the dishes or when you take a shower… Do the same thing for the rest of the week. This will help you appreciate the little things that you do and allow you to let go of the things that hurt you.

Holding on to what hurts us prevents us from enjoying the little things that we do because everything revolves around that pain, which we can let go of anytime.

4. Place yourself in the worst situation

The fourth way of dealing with hurt feelings will allow you to take drama away from the situation that’s making you suffer. Many times, emotions cloud one’s perception in such a way that it seems that everything’s terrible. It’s why you should try to place yourself in the worst situation.

Imagine that you and your partner are breaking up. You’ve been holding on to a relationship that hurts you and it’s hard for you to put an end to it. Sometimes, the decision that you must make is clear to you, but fear consumes you and prevents you from taking action. Although it’s difficult, place yourself in the worst situation.

What’s the worst thing that could happen? Maybe being alone, being different from the rest of your friends for not having a partner… We suggest that you write down all these difficult situations, but don’t be dramatic. Therefore, you’ll realize that many of the things you take aren’t so serious.

For each answer, try to give reasons why you would be hurt. In some cases, you’ll see that you don’t get a sane answer. In others, you’ll be aware that while it’s true that a situation may hurt, what makes you suffer is the fact that you hold on to it.

5. An essential question

Holding on to what causes you pain will make you suffer. therefore, all the ways on how to deal with hurt feelings that we have discussed can give you have a better understanding of everything that’s happening to you, and therefore help you make a better decision.

Finally, the last way consists of just one essential question. What would you say to someone who was going through the same thing as you do? Put yourself in the situation where it’s your brother or a friend who’s living in the same situation as you. The answer to the question that you have asked yourself will be applied to you. This question may help you open your eyes.

“I had to let go and hold myself tight.”


We tend to hold on to pain, causing it to turn into suffering. The irony is that we can let go of it when we wish, but to achieve this, we have to be aware of what we’re doing. How many times have you held on to what hurt you? How did you overcome that?

Learning to Let Go of Past Hurts: 5 Ways to Move On

We’ve all been hurt. You can’t be an adult — or teen — alive today who hasn’t experienced some kind of emotional pain.

It hurts. I get that.

But what you do with that hurt is probably more important than the hurt itself. Would you prefer to get back to being an active liver of life? Or do you prefer to ruminate endlessly about the past and something that cannot be changed?

In short, how do you let go of past hurts and move on? Let’s find out…

Blaming others for our hurt is what most of us start off doing. Somebody did something wrong, or they wronged us in some way that mattered to us. We want them to apologize. We want them to acknowledge what they did was wrong.

But blaming someone else for our hurt can backfire, as Holly Brown notes:

The problem with blaming others is that it can often leave you powerless. For example, you confront the person (your boss, your spouse, your parent, your child), and they say, “No, I didn’t,” or worse, “So what if I did?”, then you’re left with all this anger and hurt and no resolution.

All your feelings are legitimate. It’s important to feel them fully, and then move on. Nursing your grievances indefinitely is a bad habit, because (as the title goes) it hurts you more than it hurts them.

People who hold on to these past hurts often relive the pain over and over in their minds. Sometimes a person can even get “stuck” in this pain, in this hurt, in this blame.

5 Ways to Let Go of Past Hurts

The only way you can accept new joy and happiness into your life is to make space for it. If your heart is filled full-up with pain and hurt, how can you be open to anything new?

1. Make the decision to let it go.

Things don’t disappear on their own. You need to make the commitment to “let it go.” If you don’t make this conscious choice up-front, you could end up self-sabotaging any effort to move on from this past hurt.

Making the conscious decision to let it go also means accepting you have a choice to let it go. To stop reliving the past pain, to stop going over the details of the story in your head every time you think of the other person (after you finish step 2 below). This is empowering to most people, knowing that it is their choice to either hold on to the pain, or to live a future life without it.

2. Express your pain — and your responsibility.

Express the pain the hurt made you feel, whether it’s directly to the other person, or through just getting it out of your system (like venting to a friend, or writing in a journal, or writing a letter you never send to the other person). Get it all out of your system at once. Doing so will also help you understand what — specifically — your hurt is about.

We don’t live in a world of black and whites, even when sometimes it feels like we do. While you may not have had the same amount of responsibility for the hurt you experienced, there may have been a small part of the hurt that you are also partially responsible for. What could you have done differently next time? Are you an active participant in your own life, or simply a hopeless victim? Will you let your pain become your identity? Or are you someone deeper and more complex than that??

3. Stop being the victim and blaming others.

Being the victim feels good — it’s like being on the winning team of you against the world. But guess what? The world largely doesn’t care, so you need to get over yourself. Yes, you’re special. Yes, your feelings matter. But don’t confuse with “your feelings matter” to “your feelings should override all else, and nothing else matters.” Your feelings are just one part of this large thing we call life, which is all interwoven and complex. And messy.

In every moment, you have that choice — to continue to feel bad about another person’s actions, or to start feeling good. You need to take responsibility for your own happiness, and not put such power into the hands of another person. Why would you let the person who hurt you — in the past — have such power, right here, right now?

No amount of rumination of analyses have ever fixed a relationship problem. Never. Not in the entirety of the world’s history. So why choose to engage in so much thought and devote so much energy to a person who you feel has wronged you?

4. Focus on the present — the here and now — and joy.

Now it’s time to let go. Let go of the past, and stop reliving it. Stop telling yourself that story where the protagonist — you — is forever the victim of this other person’s horrible actions. You can’t undo the past, all you can do is to make today the best day of your life.

When you focus on the here and now, you have less time to think about the past. When the past memories creep into your consciousness (as they are bound to do from time to time), acknowledge them for a moment. And then bring yourself gently back into the present moment. Some people find it easier to do this with a conscious cue, such as saying to yourself, “It’s alright. That was the past, and now I’m focused on my own happiness and doing _______________.”

Remember, if we crowd our brains — and lives — with hurt feelings, there’s little room for anything positive. It’s a choice you’re making to continue to feel the hurt, rather than welcoming joy back into your life.

5. Forgive them — and yourself.

We may not have to forget another person’s bad behaviors, but virtually everybody deserves our forgiveness. Sometimes we get stuck in our pain and our stubbornness, we can’t even imagine forgiveness. But forgiveness isn’t saying, “I agree with what you did.” Instead, it’s saying, “I don’t agree with what you did, but I forgive you anyway.”

Forgiveness isn’t a sign of weakness. Instead, it’s simply saying, “I’m a good person. You’re a good person. You did something that hurt me. But I want to move forward in my life and welcome joy back into it. I can’t do that fully until I let this go.”

Forgiveness is a way of tangibly letting something go. It’s also a way of empathizing with the other person, and trying to see things from their point of view.

And forgiving yourself may be an important part of this step as well, as sometimes we may end up blaming ourselves for the situation or hurt. While we indeed may have had some part to play in the hurt (see step 2), there’s no reason you need to keep beating yourself up over it. If you can’t forgive yourself, how will you be able to live in future peace and happiness?

* * *

I know this stuff is hard and that it’s incredibly hard to let go of one’s pain — I’ve struggled with this myself. If we’ve held onto it for a long time, it feels like an old friend. Justified. It would be sacrilegious to let it go.

But nobody’s life should be defined by their pain. It’s not healthy, it adds to our stress, it hurts our ability to focus, study and work, and it impacts every other relationship we have (even the ones not directly affected by the hurt). Every day you choose to hold on to the pain is another day everybody around you has to live with that decision. And feel its consequences.

So do everybody — and yourself — a big favor: Let go of the pain. Do something different today and welcome happiness back into your life.

Learning to Let Go of Past Hurts: 5 Ways to Move On

Hurt Feelings Do Not Mean You Did Something Wrong

I was recently visiting with a friend and she shared a story about a blowout fight she had with her husband. Being a therapist, I’ve grown used to this over the years.

The story went like this. Someone accidentally moved her chair as she was going to sit down at work, causing her to fall and hit her neck against a desk. As a result, her range of motion was limited and it was very painful for her to turn her head.

After her fall, she and her husband had been driving on the freeway and as he was trying to make a last-second lane change, he asked her to check out the passenger side window for cars. She said she felt disregarded because he knew she was in pain, and his request only made it worse.

She called him a name that I won’t repeat here.

“If the roles were reversed, I would have been in the right lane way ahead of time so that I didn’t cause him pain. I was so mad at him,” she told me.

What’s wrong with her complaint?

Not a thing, but what you’re not hearing is her history of feeling like her needs don’t matter and like she is less important than others. As the youngest child from a large family that struggled financially, decisions were always made based on what was best for the larger unit, and her needs were often ignored because the bigger picture was, at times, quite dire. So, she is sensitive to situations where her needs are not acknowledged.

I’m reminded of the quote from William Faulker: “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.”

Triggers are normal

Here’s the kicker. This is a trigger for her. Triggers are normal, enduring vulnerabilities from moments in our past that escalate interactions in the present. They are normal because we all have them, and while their impact can be managed, they can rarely be eliminated.

Does this mean her husband did something wrong? Nope.

Is she just being overly sensitive? Nope.

It’s just not his trigger, so it didn’t occur to him that it could be an issue.

Further, when we only know what is happening in one person’s subjective reality, it is pretty easy to feel indignant on their behalf. But here’s the reality about subjective realities: all points of view are valid.

From his perspective, he grew up in a hardworking family where people worked through their pain and didn’t complain. His parents coached his sports teams, drove him to hockey at any ungodly hour of the morning, knew the names and phone numbers of all his friends, and taught him that he could be whatever he aspired to be.

They also yelled a lot and demanded what they wanted or needed. So because she had not clearly stated that being upright in a moving vehicle was causing lots of pain for her and that she really needed him to bubble wrap her in love, it didn’t occur to him that he was asking too much.

Hurt feelings are normal

In the grand scheme of life, this situation feels trivial. So why is it so important for the couple to talk about it? Because when someone’s feelings get hurt in marriage, it doesn’t automatically mean someone did something wrong. It just means feelings got hurt. It’s how couples manage it that matters.

In a perfect world, her husband would have been more careful about his driving and she would have been more clear at the beginning of the drive about her pain. But these things didn’t happen, so her feelings got hurt, then she got contemptuous towards him, and his feelings got hurt.

This is not actually an argument – it’s what we call a regrettable incident. Even the best couples have them. In our couples workshops and in session, we teach couples how to repair after an interaction like this. Can you easily list examples like this from your own relationship?

Masters of Relationships repair early and often. They remember their partner’s triggers and they respect them. You are not a Disaster because you had a regrettable incident, but you might be or become one if you don’t repair.

Dr. Julie Gottman says that “within every regrettable incident is a conversation the couple still needs to have.” We call this a recovery conversation.

All it would have taken for this couple is for one of them to say, “I can see why your feelings got hurt. I am sorry it happened. Your feelings matter to me.” This is relationship repair that works.

This article was originally published on BestMarriages.ca and has been edited from its original version with permission from the author.

The Marriage Minute is a new email newsletter from The Gottman Institute that will improve your marriage in 60 seconds or less. Over 40 years of research with thousands of couples has proven a simple fact: small things often can create big changes over time. Got a minute? Sign up below.

More in Love & Relationships

How To Fix Your Hurt Feelings

For many people, especially women, much of their mental energy goes into stuffing their feelings so far down they don’t even know they have them. They spend their life pleasing others, seeking the approval of everyone but themselves.

“We are nobodies. We are in hiding. We don’t know who we are,” says psychologist Emilie Ross Raphael, Ph.D., of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She means “we” not in the collective sense but in the personal sense. She includes herself among those who have—or in her case, had—to learn how to be honest about her own feelings.

Typically, says Raphael, the problem involves always saying “yes” when often you mean “no.” And the resolution typically comes down to giving yourself permission to feel angry—and finding the courage to say what’s on your mind without fear of losing the love of others.

Until this happens, it’s not possible to have a healthy relationship. Hurt feelings are inevitable in relationships, bound to arise in a fast-paced world of imperfect communication between people.

The trick is speaking them. That requires expressing anger appropriately—one of the great challenges of being a grownup and managing ourselves. More often people hold their feelings in, then at some minor infraction explode out of proportion to the cause, often bewildering everyone around them.

It’s not an overnight process. You have to learn to set limits with others. And to move the sources of approval inward, from outward. “This is the story of my life,” says Raphael. “It comes from having hard-to-please parents who set high standards. When we grow up we carry the critical parents around in our head. We become the critical ones. We are, for example, forever discounting compliments. And we maintain a low self-image by selectively focusing on negative input from those around us.”

For starters, you have to begin to think of anger as a constructive emotion. It’s a signal that your feelings are hurt and you must move into conflict resolution. Raphael sets out the steps in her book Free Spirit: A Declaration of Independence for Women(Washington House).

Here is Raphael’s advice for expressing anger appropriately.

Examine whether your current anger or resentment or hurt feelings are the tip of a much larger iceberg. How long have you had such feelings? If you get upset with your husband because he’s going out with his buddies for an evening, maybe it really isn’t about that instance but about how much of his himself he generally gives to you and your feeling that it isn’t enough.

Learn to be brave. If you feel that you are easily intimidated into backing down, write down your feelings and give your writing to the other person.

Don’t make blaming statements. Conflict resolution begins with the understanding that truth is relative. So much depends on one’s perspective, and none of us has a lock on the whole picture of anything. Nevertheless, most people start with exactly the most destructive question: Who is right and who is wrong. Two people spend time trying to convince the other of the rightness of his or her own position. But in fact, most disagreements are based on interpretations that come directly from private experiences in life, not some verifiable Truth.

The single best way to resolve conflict is to listen to the other party. Most people just want to be heard; it is a basic form of validation. And often the solution suggests itself from what is spoken.

Allow your partner to express his or her grievances. This is a good thing, because otherwise these feelings build walls between people.

Take responsibility for your part in creating problems. Ask yourself: How did my actions and the things I’ve said or failed to say helped to create this situation or crisis?

It’s the final step that people most commonly fall short on—accepting responsibility for making things better. “You need to seek out what will make the situation better in the future so this situation doesn’t arise again,” observes Raphael. “Further, you need to tell the other person, ‘this is what I need from you now to make things better.’ You need to take responsibility for what will fix it now. Is it merely listening? Is it an apology? Most people miss this piece.”

How Do I Get Over Feeling Hurt?

  • Relationships
  • Awakened Living

There are two kinds of hurt: hurt feelings and hurt heart. Hurt feelings occur when we take others’ behavior personally, and hurt heart occurs when people behave in unloving ways, causing us to feel core painful feelings, such as loneliness, heartbreak, grief, and helplessness concerning others.

Sometimes, heart hurt stays with us forever. For me, there are certain past situations that will always cause core pain when something triggers them. I don’t have an expectation that I will reach a place where these particular situations won’t be painful for me, but that’s okay—that’s life. They don’t come up often and, when they do, I embrace them with deep compassion. Of course, more recent heart hurt needs more frequent compassion.

In this example, Gilda is experiencing both hurt feelings and heart hurt:

“I’m having a real challenge with someone that ‘I allowed’ to hurt me deeply, not once but twice, who refused to apologize/take any responsibility. I acknowledge my mistakes in believing his words over his actions and the reality around me. He actively lied and manipulated to facilitate me believing things that turned out not to be true. Am having a very tough time forgiving myself, forgiving him and letting this pain and resentment go.”

One of the things that is causing Gilda to feel hurt feelings is that she has an expectation that someone who lied and manipulated her would apologize for it. This is an unrealistic expectation, and having unrealistic expectations causes hurt feelings.

Also causing her hurt feelings is the fact that she is judging herself for “allowing” this, and her self-judgment is hurting her. Instead of judging herself, she needs to have compassion for herself so that she can explore why she allowed this and learn from the situation. No learning occurs with self-judgment.

Gilda is also experiencing heart hurt. It always hurts our heart when someone betrays us with lies and manipulations. She will likely not be able to forgive herself or him until she embraces her heart hurt with deep compassion. Her resentment is her way of avoiding her heartbreak and helplessness over the situation. If she fully embraces her heart hurt with deep compassion for herself, she will be able to allow the painful feelings to move through her—for the moment. Each time they come up, she will again need to embrace them with compassion. With time, they will come up less often, but, as I stated earlier, there are some painful situations that will always hurt when they are triggered. Whether or not this is one of those situations for Gilda remains to be seen.

Even when someone apologizes for past heart hurt, the pain might continue. I’ve had clients whose parents apologized to them, and they had believed that the apology would take away the past hurt, but it didn’t. Sometimes this is because they are still treating themselves in the abusive ways their parents treated them. Other times, the pain doesn’t go away because the heartbreak and helplessness were just too great to completely heal. This doesn’t mean that we are emotionally damaged. It just means that we need to continue to be compassionate with ourselves when the pain comes up.

Hurt feelings resolve as soon as we stop taking things personally, and learn rather than judge ourselves. Heart hurt resolves for the moment when we embrace it with compassion and also learn whatever it might be telling us regarding a person or a situation. And we need to keep being compassionate toward ourselves each time the core pain comes up.

Life is sometimes very painful. It doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you when you currently feel the pain of it, or when pain of the past comes up. Let’s be gentle with ourselves regarding the pain of life.

Find out about programs with Margaret Paul at Kripalu.

This article originally appeared on innerbonding.com.

Margaret Paul, PhD, is a best-selling author and cocreator of the powerful Inner Bonding® self-healing process. She has counseled individuals and couples since 1973.

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I am feeling hurt, my eyes are wet, my heart is bleeding, I feel this heaviness in my chest and a darkness that blinds my head”, we’ve all felt this soring pain at some point or the other, be it a breakup, a friendship that is not reciprocated, or a trust that get’s manipulated, a heart break is in-evitable, but the Good news is…you can overcome it.

Ever since I remember I have been struggling to deal with hurt, be it my family, friends, love, death or dreams. My way of dealing with hurt was to completely block the person who caused me pain. This would have worked perfectly if those people could be completely eliminated, but as we all know that’s not always possible. I read somewhere that the thing you run away from the most, follows you the most. And also that life keeps repeating the same lessons till you learn from them. It is further stated in the Hindu Scriptures of Realms of life that the purpose of each realm in enlightenment, and that if you don’t get that enlightenment, you will be born again in that same realm. In my context it literally meant that if I did not learn to deal with my hurt, in this life, I would be born again with the same circumstances, till I learnt my lesson. And that did not sound like a great idea, so I had to get moving. Next steps, research! Sharing what I have learnt.

As humans high-perceived control makes us feel less vulnerable hence puts us in our comfort zone. A simple example would be that we feel discomfort not devastation when we have a broken arm vs devastation when we have a broken heart, WHY?, There could be two probable answers for this, one: we understand the healing process of a broken arm better, two: recovery of a broken arm has a more certain outcome than a broken heart. So I guess its safe to say that knowledge and certainty of an outcome warrants a less emotional outbreak. So if we were to apply the same principles to emotional “Hurt”, will it work? In most cases it would as knowledge is a tool that brings about wisdom, and wisdom is all we need to live a fulfilling life.

There are two key things that shaped my wisdom on “Hurt”. The first thing was that “It is ok to feel hurt”.All emotions are Valid. Tell me if this sounds familiar “get over it”, “ get your shit together”, “don’t be such a baby”, “be mature”, etc…. When we undermine our own emotions we loose the ability to learn from them. So when you hear yourself or anyone else telling you these things,.,.,. JUST STOP! Don’t Judge or Suppress. Endurance is not the ability to suppress emotions, it is the ability to control what we do when they come to us. Berne Brown, the famous research professor at the University of Houston famously declares that you can not selectively suppress emotions, when you suppress grief, shame, fear, disappointment, you numb joy, you numb gratitude, you numb happiness and then you are miserable.

The second thing that I learnt, which is pretty interesting is that, there are different Kinds of Hurt.It is very important to understand this difference as your recovery process and time will vary according to the emotion you feel right after being hurt. Hurt causes different kinds of pain, both in intensity and consequence. As the famous American Poet Emily Dickinson puts it:

“I measure every Grief I Meet, With narrow probing eyes, I wonder if it weighs like mine, Or has an easier size.”

While there may be a varied range of emotions and blues, for the purpose of this article I will stick to common forms of hurt, leaving aside abuse, as that is a specialized area all together.

Social Exclusion:

Feeling Excluded Hurts!!

What is social exclusion, simply put it is being excluded form social events like birthdays, outings, office get together or any such activity where in you’ve been singled out and not been invited to be a part of the group. Social exclusion is a complex concept and leads to hurt arising out of shame. Shame, although not entirely a negative emotion is still a social emotion, one we feel when we look bad in front of others. Also we tend to self-incriminate after having been excluded, either believing that we somehow deserved it or that we are blowing things out of proportion and shouldn’t feel that way. There can be great power in leaving, but to be kicked out can feel disastrous.

Heartbreak by a lover:

Breakup Feels Like A Full Stop Instead Of A Comma!

You love someone, all is going well, and then all of a sudden he/she decides to abandon you. What do you feel? HURT! Hurt due to Rejection and Loss. The feeling of Loss is so strong that you can actually feel physical anguish. You go through highs, lows, feelings of helplessness, self-doubt, agony, because the one thing that you love, has chosen to walk away. There is a key difference in pain caused due to break up’s and other feelings of loss. In a “Break-up” the abandonment is out of choice and absolute, i.e. it is more like a full stop rather than a comma. Women tend to take a larger blow after a break-up because women are socially conditioned to believe that maintaining a relationship was their responsibility.

Break-up feels slightly different from other kinds of loss, and there is good reason why. Scientific research has proved that coming through heartbreak is like coming off drugs. Many Studies have shown that the anguish experienced during a split activates the same part of the brain that is stimulated during addiction withdrawal. Researchers have established similarities in bran scans of people going through romantic rejection and cocaine craving. This analogy of comparing a heartbreak to addiction may help you reason out your heartbreak better. As with any other addictions, the withdrawal symptoms are worst initially and then the symptoms reduce. Oh I wish I knew this whilst I was growing up!


Betrayal Hurts, Because Once You Trusted!!

Betrayal is when someone you trust lies to you, cheats on you, abuses you, or hurts you by putting their own self-interest first. Betrayal HURTS! It’s a devastating sense of loss that leads to grief. Some say it’s the worst kind of loss anyone can experience as in order to feel betrayed you would have trusted the person in the first place. For instance, a spouse is betrayed when their partner has an affair, a child feels betrayed when abused, a friend feels betrayed when something stated in confidence is repeated. Betrayal is an action of choice and the person who was betrayed believes that the choice was wrong and preventable.


“You Think You Have Time” – Buddha

Death leads to bereavement. There is a difference between grief and bereavement. Grief is the psychological-emotional experience following a loss of any kind (relationship, status, job, house, game, income, etc), whereas bereavement is a specific type of grief related to someone dying. The difference can be explained by a simple example, when bereaving, we want to keep the person alive in our memories, in time we choose fond memories to treasure. However, when grieving we try to forget about, or get over the memories related to that person or instance by creating new memories.

What do I know about death, well I lost my father, Uncle, Grand mom, aunt all in a span of 2 years, and all to Cancer. It was a time in our house when we didn’t know who to care for first. So yes, I can talk a whole lot about death, but that would require a whole book. But this is an article, so in brief my input would be that, death is devastating, emotionally, socially and sometimes financially. Getting over death is never as simple, it takes time, courage, wisdom and a whole lot of support. You never really get over Death, you learn to deal with in time.

Understand Your Recovery:

“Don’t cry when the sun is gone, because the tears won’t let you see the stars”…Violet Parra

It is very important to understand that the recovery process of each kind of hurt is different, varies in intensity and time. Some may require just re-programmed positive thinking while some may require further steps. For example dealing with a Break-up may require avoiding triggers and moving on, betrayal may require a re-connect. Social Exclusion may require standing up and Death may require learning to live again. One cannot erase emotional memory, healing happens by living a more intentional life, with re-arranged priorities and better outlook. So here’s how one can begin their journey towards healing.

Acknowledge Pain:

In order to acknowledge our pain, we first have to accept. Do not hold onto emotions after traumatizing events by questioning as why did they have to happen to me and refusing to accept that they have happened. You will trap your emotions by refusing to accept. Things happen in our lives that aren’t fair. It sucks and it hurts and there are never enough reasons. We can either fight against what we can’t control, or we can accept, and outsmart our pain towards a better quality of life.

Feel Your Emotions Without Judgment:

When you have been hurt, you may feel a varied range of emotions like anger, grief, humiliation, disappointment fear etc. Let your emotions flow without judgment of wrong or right. This is the tricky part as most of us have been conditioned for just the opposite, “don’t feel”, “don’t cry”, “you cant feel this way” etc. Accept that something has happened, let your body feel what it wants to feel. There is no right or wrong feeling, all feelings should be greeted with equal attention. Don’t be afraid to burst out sobbing, or yell into a pillow if you feel angry and frustrated. These feelings will pass if you express them.

Emotions demand expression, suppressed emotions lead to many disorders, which as we all know is not a good place to be in. Many a times people experience excessive crying during their first meditation practice, I am a first hand witness to this. Cried unstoppably, I could not understand this at all, I was expecting this great sense of calm, not tears. As it so happens, mediation releases all your bottled-up emotions, sometimes through tears. In time all the negative emotions will move through you leaving you with empty space, which you can then consciously fill up with positive emotions like warmth, joy, acceptance, and compassion.

Focus On Self:

Get stronger emotionally and physically. Try to build a stronger spiritual structure, I am not talking about religion I am talking about a sounder emotional strength. Remember your sense of worthiness does not come from external acceptance. It comes from knowing that “I am good enough”. People behave a certain way because of their own wants and needs. It is not a reflection of your self worth. They may blame you for their action to reduce their accountability, but that has got nothing to do with you. So don’t ponder in negative thoughts, think positive thoughts that will improve your self confidence. Read up on good books, connect with people and groups that can match your journey. Know that there is always a place for you to shine and smile, tell yourself this enough times, out loud if required.

Exercise!, I cant say this enough. The endorphins that are released during physical exercise are notoriously helpful in elevating your mood. Exercise is the least used anti-depressant. Go to the gym, do yoga, cycling, running, walking, anything that is physically challenging. This is the one thing that you can do for yourself wherein you’ll be forced to create a deliberate energy shift from you mind to your body. This will not only make you physically stronger but it will also give a better sense of self worth.

Take Action:

Foster Fulfilling friendships: It is imperative that as we grow older, and even when all is going well, we make a sincere attempt in developing a few quality relationships that you feel comfortable falling back on. This way, even when the sun is not shining bright, you will never be left without anyone to turn to.

Talk It Out: Two way communication with the person who caused you pain can sometimes be very healing. Ensure that you focus on your own feelings by saying “I felt “ instead of “you made me feel”. Hear the other person out to get a better understanding of what happened, why it happened, and why it hurt. Sometimes things may surface differently. Share your fears and listen to their fears in return. Everyone is fighting their own battle, sometimes talking it out helps put things in perspective.

Don’t Act In A Hurry: Wait before you make any big decisions, There is no positive revenge. Revenge in the heat of the moment is something that you will come to regret later. Time spent calculating a deliberate revenge is time spent at the expense of your own emotional healing.

Take help: A good friend or a therapist can help you clear your head and decide what steps to take. If your feelings are too intense to manage alone or if you find yourself coping in unhealthy ways, you should speak to a counselor who will be in a better position to help you deal with your emotions.


Forgiveness is mandatory in all forms of healing process, leaving aside Death, of course. Forgiveness leads to a greater sense of personal peace. It does not mean that you are overlooking the act itself, what it means that is you are choosing to move on from feelings of resentment to feelings of resolution. Even a small incident might need to be remembered occasionally before it stops hurting. Forgiveness isn’t something you do for the person who wronged you, it’s something you do for “YOU”.

Forgiveness is a process and not always easy, at times, it hurts more than the wound itself. Bigger pains arising out of heartbreak or betrayals can define your life for a while and it makes sense that they have to be forgiven multiple times. You can forgive without rebuilding your relationships. In fact in cases of abuse, it is advisable and sometimes not even safe to resume contact. If you are unable or unwilling to resume contact, stating your forgiveness to yourself or writing it down on a piece of paper can help you move on from the pain. We never heal until we forgive.

Move On and Rebuild You Life:

Rebuilding is a big step of your healing journey. Loving someone again, trusting someone again or perhaps trusting the same person again, being vulnerable again, all this can be very daunting. But life must go on, unfortunate incidents can not define you. Open your mind and look for a lesson, sometimes, the lesson isn’t apparent immediately, but if you keep an open mind, the lesson will revel itself. In the words of Robert Gary Lee, “Wisdom is nothing but healed pain”. Move on in your life with your new wisdom and keep your heart open to new and meaningful beginnings.

“Pain teaches you more than pleasure. Failure teaches you more than success. Poverty teaches you more than prosperity. Adversity teaches you more than comfort.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo

When You Feel Hurt, Here’s How to Move Forward

I write about this today because I want to address a few issues around being hurt.

First of all, I wish with all my heart that both of these people had come to me first and cleared up any misinterpretations so they would both understand that I had absolutely no intention of hurting them.

An interesting thing about us as human beings is that we judge others by their actions and behaviours and we judge ourselves by our motives and intentions.

When people hurt us, we often automatically look at their actions and behaviours and say “they shouldn’t have done that” or “they hurt me”.

I am guilty of this too.

One thing I’ve learned in recent years is that open and honest communication can do wonders in these situations.

Had either of these people come to me over the last few months when they were feeling hurt and voiced their concerns, they would have very quickly learned this: Even though they interpreted my behaviour as me hurting them, my intentions were 100% pure and loving.

Also, I had made a choice that was best for my family and I and they could obviously not see this — all they saw was how my actions affected them.

This brings me to another point:

As human beings we are meaning-making machines.

As we judge others’ behaviors and actions toward us and make up meanings about them, we can often shoot ourselves in the foot by creating a meaning that causes us to feel hurt. We do this without even talking to the other person and understanding their perspective.

This is where the open and honest communication comes in.

Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity — Nat Turner

When we feel hurt, it is imperative for our well-being that we find a way to deal with those feelings in a forward-moving way and clear up any confusion.

Sometimes that involves just dealing with them on our own, however when it is a friend or family member who has hurt us, I believe that it is crucial to go to the person and have a conversation.

This actually shows love and respect for ourselves and the other person. If someone doesn’t know they’ve hurt you, you are enlightening them and helping them grow. You also get to love yourself by showing others how you appreciate being treated.

For me, these conversations often look like this: “I experienced the situation that happened between us this way: ____________. Because of this I felt sad and angry. If you are open to it, I would really appreciate hearing your perspective and feeling about the situation so that I can better understand where you were coming from”.

In going about it in this manner, I do not put blame on the other person, but take full responsibility for my feelings. And when they talk, I LISTEN.

I truly believe that seeking to understand before seeking to be understood is crucial in any friendship or intimate relationship.

Because we are meaning-making machines, we can often make up meanings based on filters in or mind that have been around for many years (most of these filters have been around since we were teenagers).

If we feel insecure, we will often process things through a filter of insecurity. If we feel confident, we process things through a filter of confidence.

In my insecure days, I would interpret anything that people did as something being wrong with me. Now that I’m much more confident in who I am, I interpret people’s actions towards me as having nothing to do with me personally.

If people don’t call me back or they treat me a certain way that I see as negative, I don’t make it mean something about me — I choose to believe it is their ‘stuff’ and that their actions really don’t have much to do with me at all.

This is truth: People’s actions toward us have everything to do with them and almost nothing to do with who we are.

All we are to one another is a mirror and we just reflect back to people who they are.

7 Ways To Protect Yourself At The Beginning Of Relationship

I’ll be the first to admit it: When I’m just starting off dating someone new, I rush to make things happen. If I finally find someone I like (which doesn’t happen very often) I’m full steam ahead, trying to make things work and get us to a point of mutual, honeymoon-stage bliss. But in the process of taking the lead and moving things along rather than letting them flow naturally, I tend to show my hand too early and open myself up to rejection later on.

In allowing myself to embrace fully how I feel for someone while disregarding signs, I’ve learned something important about the start of relationships: There’s a happy medium between sharing yourself and protecting your heart. Yes, it’s important to let someone in or else you risk not progressing with them altogether. But if you let someone completely in from the start, you run the risk of developing intense feelings for them right away and they may not be mutual.

All relationship beginnings have an ebb and flow that involves responding to how your partner is feeling in that moment and taking mini risks of your own to let them know where you’re at. But getting into that flow isn’t always easy, so here are the best ways I’ve come up with based on my personal experiences.

1. Try Not To Plan Too Far Ahead

I’ve learned that I tend to get more invested in a relationship if I set up expectations for the future. Before I’ve even met my new beau’s family, I’ll start to imagine us a few months down the line, being head-over-heels for each other and relying on one another to get us our days. But when I started to plan ahead, I began to realize that I was living like what I planned was already taking place and as much as I wanted it, it wasn’t guaranteed.

Taking your relationship for what it is in the moment is a much smarter way to the start off things; rather than imposing your own goals for the future onto things, take hints from how your partner is feeling and progress day by day. When you let things go naturally, you’re a lot less likely to get hurt.

2. Take What He/She Says At Face Value

Ready for a great Maya Angelou quote? She once famously said, “If someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time,” and she was damn right. I’m totally guilty of this, and I’m sure I’m not alone, but I have a tendency to over-analyze what my S.O. says to try and discover a hidden meaning that fits with what I want from them.

Instead of spending all of your energy (and most likely your besties’ energy) trying to uncover what they really mean, believe them. If your new partner is telling you they’re not ready for you to meet their parents, take that at face value: They’re not at that stage of the relationship yet, and that’s perfectly fine. The more you trust what your new partner is saying to you, the better you’ll be able to take cues from how things are progressing. That way, you’ll see your relationship as less of a race to get to the finish and more of a steady walk toward the ultimate end.

3. Stay Away From Romanticizing The Situation

This is so hard to do when things are just starting, but be careful of it! When you just started dating someone, everything seems new and shiny because you haven’t endured any problems yet. As a result, you may be convinced your partner is absolute perfection in human form, and you start to fall for them because of it. If you’re setting up unrealistic scenarios in your head of who you believe your partner to be (or what you want them to be) rather than taking the time to learn who they really are, you’re setting yourself up for potential hurt later on. Don’t get caught up in honeymoon fantasies or else you may fall for someone who doesn’t actually exist.

4. Share What You Feel Comfortable Sharing And What He/She Will Feel Comfortable Hearing

Like I said before, there’s a happy medium to how vulnerable to make yourself at the beginning of a relationship and it involves just the right amount of sharing who you are without feeling too exposed. In order to find that sweet spot, only share what you feel comfortable sharing. If you don’t want to tell S.O. about your childhood yet, that’s OK. But if you do want to tell them some of things you don’t tell many people, be aware of how they may take it. If they’ve been a closed book thus far, and you’re ready to spill the beans about your darkest secrets take a cue from their actions. They may not be ready to share such personal details, and they may not know how to handle it if you do as well. Rather than rushing a connection through opening up, take hints from your partner and feel out whether you think it’s the time. If all signs point to no, hold off for a bit.

5. Don’t Be Afraid To Say No

Completely a given, but still important to note. If your partner is trying to move ahead in the relationship with something you’re not comfortable with, don’t feel like you have to say yes just to please them. When things start off we sometimes feel weird showing who we are completely out of fear that we’ll scare someone off. But if your partner is about to do something you’re not OK with, have no reservations about turning them down.

6. Don’t Neglect The Other Things You Love

In new relationships, it’s important to retain some aspects of independence and the best way to do that is avoid neglecting all things you loved before you met that person. If you drop your best friends and your hobbies like a hot potato as soon as you meet bae, it’s going to be hard to get them back if things don’t pan out. And if you keep doing you just as things start, you’ll create enough distance between the two of you that’ll keep you from rushing things, and show your partner that you’re not about the smothering life. When you have other things to keep your mind on, you’ll worry about your relationship less, while no longer running the risk of becoming more invested than the situation warrants.

7. Feel Each Situation Out

I’ve been pretty much saying this all along, but it needed it’s own spot on this list. At the end of the day, the best way to know whether you’re on the same page with a new partner is to feel things out. If you think he/she is not vibing with certain things, don’t try to force it. You both need to feel comfortable. And if you have good reason to believe that they’re taking things a bit slower than you had wanted, remember that some people need time to move forward and it may be best to move at a slower pace. It’s not always going to be about them taking the lead, but it’s important to be on the same page at the beginning at the beginning or else risk throwing things off for the future.

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