A 2008 psychological study found that emotional pain hurts more and lasts longer than physical pain. And that doesn’t come as a big surprise. Strong negative emotions like disappointment, dread, grief, and rejection can be incredibly painful and feel hard to escape. And the sadness that comes when someone hurts your feelings can be hard to shake.
Thankfully, there are several things that are in our control to do when these negative feelings strike. Here are 5 ways to deal with hurt feelings.
#1. Recognize that the only person who can hurt your feelings is you.
This is a profound realization and one that I only recently discovered by listening to The Life Coach School Podcast. In episode 37, host Brooke Castillo explains this in more detail:
“We hurt our own feelings with our own thinking. If we believe what someone says to us, if it’s really negative, then it’s going to hurt. [But] if we don’t believe what they say to us, it’s not going to hurt…
If you can recognize that you’re there one hurting you, when you interpret what someone says in a certain way, then you really understand how much power you have in your relationships, and your relationship with yourself.”
This may seem crazy, but think about it. If someone said they hate your blue hair (and you don’t have blue hair), it won’t hurt your feelings. If they said they hate your brown hair (and you have brown hair), it might. Both are criticisms about your hair. But only one stings. It’s all about what you make what they say mean.
In other words, you have control over your thoughts. And those thoughts create your feelings which lead to your actions which in turn create your results. So if you choose to believe something negative about something that was said, you will be hurt. But you’re the one choosing to believe that thought.
If you take a step back and examine the situation with greater objectivity, looking at why the circumstance arose and looking at it from different perspectives, you may be able to change your thought about it. By changing what it means to you, you can create a different feeling altogether.
Of course, this is easier said than done, and not a quick fix you can implement on a whim. But as you start to wrap your mind around the concept that your thoughts create your feelings, you’ll see how much power you really do have.
You can listen to the full episode here.
#2. Realize that it may not be about you.
As much as we might assume everyone approaches each interaction with a clean slate, that’s far from the truth.
Things like mood, biases, past experience, overall mindset, and other factors can all impact how someone reacts in a given situation. They can impact what they think, do, and say.
While this doesn’t necessarily make you feel immediately less hurt, it’s certainly something worth considering. Is there a reason the circumstance happened? What’s going on with the person involved? Could there be other factors at play? Could it really have nothing to do with you?
Ask yourself these questions to diffuse some of the hurt and question what may have caused the situation to unfold as it did.
#3. Look at what it tells you about yourself.
Significant moments like this have the power to hold up a mirror and show you things about yourself you may not have noticed.
First, reflect on why you’re feeling hurt. What’s the thought triggering it? Is it feeling rejected or like you disappointed someone? Why is that particularly upsetting? Does it reflect a need for approval? If so, how and why? Dig deeper to unravel the source of your hurt feelings and you may be surprised at the answers.
Second, give some thought as to what feedback it may provide. Maybe your feelings were hurt because someone told you something you didn’t want to hear. Look at that belief and see whether it reflects something about yourself that you’d like to improve on.
In some cases, it may reflect an opportunity for you to build confidence in a certain area. My book The Confidence Toolkit goes into much more depth about how to build confidence based on scientifically proven methods. Want to get the first chapter absolutely free? Enter your email address below and I’ll send it to you right away!
#4. Talk it out.
If you’re looking for an outlet, talk to someone, whether it be a friend, your partner, or a family member.
Sometimes the process of sharing your thoughts can be enlightening and cause you to see your perspective in a new light. And they may have some useful insight that you hadn’t considered.
In talking it out, I’d suggest prefacing the conversation with what you’re looking for. Do you just want the person to just listed? Are you looking for advice? And are you open to constructive feedback? That will ensure you’re on the same page and will avoid more stress or conflict.
If you need an outlet but don’t really want to share your feelings with anyone, grab a journal. Writing out your thoughts is cathartic, and often unveils additional layers of truth you may not have previously seen.
To start, just write down the first thought about it that you have, and let the words flow onto the page. Don’t worry about format or flow – just download your thoughts. If you’d like, you can go back to your writing once a little time has passed to see if you can glean any insights or patterns from your thoughts.
How do you typically deal with having hurt feelings? What strategies have worked well for you? Sound off in the comments – we’d love to hear!
P.S. Don’t forget to grab your FREE chapter of The Confidence Toolkit! Enter your email address below and I’ll send it to you right away.