I have learned so much from my mother. From the basics like tying my shoes to much more complex things like how to get over heartbreak. The lessons she has planted in me are too many to number, I’m grateful for all of them. She is pretty much right about everything, which is super annoying (please don’t tell her I said that. I think I can still get whoppins).
One of the best things she ever taught me was how to hurt. That sounds strange, I know. But trust me, it’s definitely a skill worth learning. Life is long and humans do strange things to other humans – at some point, something is going break you down. But, we don’t have to let hurt have the last word. Obviously, all hurt is not equal. There are frustrations and hurt feelings, and then there are years-in-the-making heartbreak.
These situations can either make us bitter or can produce growth to make us better – but both cannot occur at the same time. You get to choose. Even with all variables in mind, I use these 5 steps to inform my process no matter how the crapiness occurred as I, like you, would much rather be better than bitter at the end of it all.
1.Take a Day
Whenever I encounter a situation that hurts my feelings or makes me angry, depending upon its severity, sometimes it’s necessary for me to take a 24 hour respite from being a rational human being. Honestly, I allow myself to have an attitude for 1 day. To feel all the feelings no matter how ridiculous they are. To give myself space to yell or cry or have those conversations with myself about what I would say if the offending party were in front of me which I know good and well I wouldn’t if it were real life. Basically I let myself feel without apologizing for it. Me and God have some real gangster conversations here – I usually try to tell Him how He should do His job – He listens, because He cares. But also I’m sure He gives me many heavenly eye-rolls. This is not to say that you stop feeling your feelings after 24 hours, it’s just that you don’t give your power away to your feelings after that. In some instances, it may require 48hrs or some such – but the point is to realize that you can’t pitch a tent, build a lil fire and camp out there.
Now, the challenge is, we still have to exist in society as a normal person. After all, it’s not cool to take the attitude I’ve decided to have and inflict it on innocent bystanders. If I am unable to spend time alone, I still feel all the feelings, and I may even be a little stank in behavior, but I try not to let too much negativity leak into situations that don’t deserve it. This is a good place to call someone who will just let you word-vomit until you’re finished with no expectation of it making sense.
2. Find What’s Real
Ok, now that we’ve had 24 hours to freak out, we gotta get back to adulting. Praying about the situation at every stage is a great idea, but in this stage I am typically more receptive to the truth of the answers I receive. The freak-out stage is filled with assumptions and automatic responses. This stage is sifting through all of that to figure out what’s actually happening. Did that person say what you thought you heard? Did they truly mean it that way? Did you yell when you could have just asked a clarifying question? Are they telling the truth about the situation and your pride is hurt because they are right? Are they totally wrong and you’re hurt because you don’t feel known or valued?
Here is where we get down to the real deal.This is where I seek God for actual revelation, and I listen (usually to Him tell me all about myself). This is a good place to call someone who will talk you down off of the ledge so-to-speak. Someone who will inject some honesty and help you separate feeling from fact. Which brings us to the next part.
3. Own Your..uh… Stuff
This is the most humbling part of the process, perhaps. The one I’m most grateful for learning. It doesn’t always come easy or right away – but it’s crucial. Once you’ve delved into the territory of what’s real, now I do the work of finding out which parts are mine to own, to confront, to change, to fight for, or to let go. A lot of times we are hurt because of our expectations and assumptions aren’t met – and that doesn’t actually have much to do with anyone else. We have to own that.
Sometimes there is just a misunderstanding that we perpetuated. We have to own that.
Sometimes someone really does make an honest mistake and we take it upon ourselves to take it personally.
Sometimes it is something that really does need to be addressed and confronted, and we have to own being a part of a solution – not just feeling some type of way about it so we have a license to complain.
This is a good space to call someone who will be honest with you and challenge you to grow. Someone who loves you too much to pacify you and your hurt feelings. After identifying these things, ask God to help you accept what needs accepting and to heal what needs healing.
4.Do the Work
After alla dat, the next step is action. This is where I figure out how I’m going to heal and how I’m going to do better or think differently. It’s where I make apologies to whom I need to do so. Sometimes it’s to myself as well. Now that your emotions aren’t running the show and logic has likely prevailed, you can go to the offending party if necessary and articulate your thoughts & experience when emotions aren’t about to explode.
This, I’ve found, is helpful in my marriage. It is rare that I bring up an offense at the time it happens. This is not to say that there is never a place for that, but most of the time it’s not actually super necessary to do so. Getting to a helpful solution is much easier when I can say exactly what I mean in a thoughtful way.It’s where I put a plan in place to get to the root of the issue, under all of the feelings and assumptions. Ask God for your next steps. This is the most freeing step, if you let it be.
5. Let it Go
On the other side of the nonsense, the only way to truly move on is to stop carrying the situation with you. Yes, it may have been a valid hurt or wrong-doing that you experienced – but that doesn’t mean you have to let it dictate your life. You own your feelings, they do not own you. You have to choose to, once you’ve gone through the steps listed above, let the process do it’s work and let God direct it all. The person who hurt you is still God’s son/daughter. He loves them just as much as He loves you – so let Him deal with them – you got other stuff to do. Yes, it may take some time for your emotions to recalibrate, and that’s ok, but actively work to be ok so that the situation isn’t a detriment to the rest of your life & relationships.
This is a good space to go live life. Have fun. Try a new hobby. Do the obligatory hair chop/dye job. Shed what was before and press on for what’s new.
Do you have other tips for how to deal with hurt in a healthy way?