We've all been hurt, and how we deal with it can shape our lives for years to come. We can respond in healthy, constructive ways or deeply destructive ways that can potentially change our personalities and our future outcomes in life.
When someone hurts you, you're only making things worse if you respond in these five ways:
It's natural to want payback, and it's tempting to seek revenge on the person who hurt us, but we only hurt ourselves when we do this.
According to an article in Psychology Today, revenge backfires. A study that tested how people felt after taking revenge revealed that the positive feelings we expect rarely emerge. In an experiment, students who took revenge on someone they believed had wronged them reported feeling worse than those who let it go.
Interestingly, students who took revenge didn't just believe they would feel better for doing it. They also reported that even though they felt bad, they believed they would have felt worse if they had done nothing. This is why revenge is dangerous. If we always try to get payback, we never experience the satisfaction that comes with learning to simply walk away.
When someone hurts you, the healthy option is to accept that it was that person's choice and theirs alone.
Often, though, we spread the blame wider, including all other members of the group. We decide that all men cheat, that we can't trust strangers or worse, that we can't trust anyone. This affects future relationships, friendships and stops us living our best life.
Put the blame where blame is due. Nobody is responsible for a person's actions except that individual.
It's great (and healthy) to take responsibility for your own actions, but shifting all the blame onto yourself isn't helpful.
If your self-esteem has taken a hit, it may be easy to convince yourself that everybody leaves you because you're a horrible person, or nobody wants to be your friend because you're stupid and boring.
It's more helpful to accept that some relationships just don't work, and some friendships come to a natural end. By all means, acknowledge the part you played in the situation, but don't let your pain cloud your judgement. It's unlikely what you're going through is all your fault.
Hate is the most destructive emotion. When someone we love hurts us, we often feel (or imagine we feel) hatred towards them. It can be easier to turn a strong emotion into another strong emotion, so we find it more natural to go from love to hate, rather than love to indifference.
It's fine to go through a range of emotions. Just don't let hate dwell within you. It takes a lot of energy to hate. Use your energy to process the hurt, grieve for what you've lost, and then move on.
Forgiving is wonderful and an essential part of moving on, but forgetting doesn't serve the same purpose. When we forget how a situation evolved, it can lead to us make the same mistake over and over.
Forgive the controlling boyfriend, but don't forget the early warning signs that the relationship was unhealthy. Forgive the friend who betrayed you, but don't forget the red flags that warned you she didn't have your best interests at heart. Don't forgive and forget. Forgive and learn.
Pain is a normal and inevitable part of life. How you deal with it is all about building healthy coping strategies and emotional strength.