It’s that moment when it happens. Words, actions, observations…whatever. Your feelings are hurt. Now, as I’ve explained earlier this is a grossly bland overused statement. More than your feelings being hurt what you are experiencing is an emotional need not being met or in fact violated. Regardless, what happens next? Well, outwardly, just about anything can happen and you can probably predict it. Something, quite a bit actually, happens on the inside after the “hurt” and the action that ensues.
There are several things that can and do happen once we’ve been hurt. You will most likely experience all of them but spend the bulk of the time in one of them. Not only does this happen with a specific moment in time hurt but also is true in a macro/collective hurt kind of way as well. Once you are hurt it turns to anger. Anger, properly focused and dealt with is not wrong or even damaging. Dealt with in the wrong fashion anger can be incredibly destructive and debilitating.
From there, fear sets in, “what the? Why did this happen? Is it going to happen again? Was this on purpose? Am I safe?” are all conscious and subconscious reactions to being hurt. We were not called and are not made to dwell in this (or any other of the subsequent) repercussions of hurt.
The next place hurts go is to guilt. “Maybe I deserved this. I should have avoided this. It’s my fault. They did this because I…” run through your mind. Granted, most very often, none of that is true but we these things run through our minds nonetheless.
Now it really begins to get self inflicted and damaging. We experience self condemnation. Different than guilt which is “I caused/deserved the bad thing I got.” Self condemnation is more “I don’t deserve good things, so why wouldn’t this happen to me?” It is incredibly damaging as it takes the worst of other pains and piles on telling yourself that you are not worth more. It is rarely if ever the goal of the inflicter of the pain but is most certainly a very common result.
Now, rather than having room in your heart/emotions for things like joy, your heart is filled with these negative repercussions of having an emotional need not met or violated. Even worse, you very well may not even be aware of it. You just feel icky, or (for lack of a more specific term) bad. If you have ever thought, “I just feel numb” this is why. There just isn’t room for anything good. The hurt level has risen and so has the result of that hurt. We can’t take any more. So what happens then?
This depends on you and many many factors. The result of an overflowing of unprocessed hurts varies from person to person. It can be everything from rage to depression, shutting down to over achieving, manic/obsessive behavior to bitterness, drug use, eating and sleep disorders, any or all of the above. What is perhaps most damaging is that we spend the bulk of our time trying to stop these things from happening without realizing that the fuel lies in the hurts far beneath. When we are unable to redirect this behavior, we feel like failures, which hurts, we feel like we can’t change, which hurts, we blame ourselves, which hurts, then, we…self condemn. Which only starts the cycle all over again.
In my next post we will take a look two examples of what this looks like. One will be a specific hurt (micro) that happens once. The other will look at a series of hurts (macro) that pile on top of each other. We will then address the real source of all of this and how to keep these negative things from pouring out of us…or at least lesson the emotional fuel that feeds them.