Hurt is something we’ve all experienced. My first memory of being physically hurt was falling and cutting my lip on a metal toolbox when I was three. I still have the scar.
My first memory of being emotionally hurt was when, as the youngest, an older sibling called me a choice name. I still have that scar, too.
Hurt is universal. The recent massacre in Orlando, Florida, reminds us that hurt goes deep. Death, violence, anger, abuse, sadness, betrayal, intimidation, regrets, grief, lack of forgiveness….the reasons for hurt are endless.
How we handle hurt is important, especially in today’s culture where hate, anger, violence, and death seem to be a coping strategy for hurt. These, of course, are unhealthy ways to deal with hurt. So how do you handle life’s bitterness in ways that brings health and healing ?
- Accept the hurt. As a counselor, some of the most important moments with a client are helping them accept the fact that they’re hurting. Most of us want to be tough and act like everything’s okay. When you’re hurting, using “everything’s okay” as a defense mechanism masks the real impact of a situation. While there’s a time and a place to pick yourself up and move forward, doing so to avoid or mask the hurt is denial. It minimizes the pain the person or event has caused you and others. Acknowledging your hurt is the first step towards healing.
- Give yourself time to identify and feel your emotions. Kids often express hurt in one emotion—anger. The same is true for adults. However, behind anger is often frustration, grief, disappointment, or other feelings. Allowing yourself to identify true emotions helps you understand the level of hurt and equips you to appropriately respond. True anger is different from disappointment and other emotions. Also, allow yourself to physically release your emotions. Crying isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s your body’s natural way to release your emotions. Journaling, listen to or playing music, physical activity, drawing……there are many healthy ways to experience and release your emotions.
- Identify what you need to heal, reconcile, or move forward from the hurt. Healing isn’t dependent upon the situation or the personal changing. You are the only variable in the situation of which you have control. Ask yourself, What do I need in order to heal from this situation? If the answer is out of your control or dependent upon a perfect scenario, you’re sabotaging your efforts to heal. In response to that question, ask yourself, What can I change in order to begin the healing process? Do you need to ask for, receive, or offer forgiveness? Are there behaviors or attitudes you need to change? Or do you simply need to choose to heal in order to move on from a situation that is toxic and unchanging?
- Do what it takes to heal. Act on the first three principles. Reach out to caring people for support. Take care of yourself. Start the healing process.