What to Do When Someone Says Something That Hurts You

Updated on September 23, 2018
HoneyBB profile image

Analyzing why people do the things they do and how those things affect others is one of my favorite pastimes. I enjoy finding solutions.

The Power of Words
The Power of Words

How to Figure Out Why Someone Said Something Hurtful

Hurtful words carry great power. They have the potential to shove somebody into a downward spiral of self-doubt and destruction; or, they can jolt that person out of their comfort zone and onto a quest of self-discovery and improvement. Sometimes, there is some truth in the words. Often, there is none.

People say mean things to others for many reasons. More often than not, the person who puts somebody else down won't remember what they said a year later; however, the recipient of those words may remember them for the rest of their lives. One way to limit the negative effects these words have on you is to consider, or even better, write down your answers to the following: who said the words; how well does that person know you or the person or circumstances they referred to; what purpose, if any, they may have had in saying them; whether or not they have any authority or expertise to have made the claim they made; is it possible you misinterpreted what was said, and how long you are willing to allow these comments to disrupt your peace or influence your self-esteem.

Distinguish the Character of the Person who Hurt You

Instead of concentrating on what was said, first try examining the person who said it. Did you become a target of a known bully? Was this person someone you love or someone who's supposed to love you? Was it a relative, a friend, a teacher, a coach, or a stranger? Was it somebody whose opinion you previously respected; or, was it somebody who often said things you didn't agree with? Is this person mean to others; or, did they single you out? When you analyze the character of the person who spoke those awful words to you or about you or someone you love, you may find that their words are more a reflection of who they are and not so much about who you are.


What Motivated That Person to Say What Was Said?

Sometimes people say cruel things to others when their own lives are in turmoil. It's not right. It's not an excuse. It's an explanation. When people are under too much stress, they might accuse someone else of having the faults that they fear they possess; or, they might blurt out something in anger that they don't really mean. Afterward, they may feel some guilt; but they may also feel relief that they got their fears off their chest without even recognizing that their words were misdirected. Think about whether they said what they said intentionally to hurt you or help you. They may have put you down solely to boost their own ego. If intoxication played a role, the words said may not have been meant for you. When people are too drunk or high to think clearly, they often misinterpret different aspects of their reality which causes them to make unwarranted accusations or ignorant statements.

On the other hand, when somebody's confidence is low about certain aspects of who they are, they may twist other people's words to match how they feel about themselves as a way to validate (whether true or not) their own perception of themselves.

Why Do People in Pain Snap

People in pain, whether it be physical, emotional, or psychological, sometimes, snap at the people around them. Often, those people are people who are dear to them. They, usually, don't mean to hurt the people they love. The pain consumes them; and, as a result, they lash out in an attempt to feel some relief, if only for a moment. That brief moment they are yelling out hurtful words their minds become distracted enough to override their concentration of their pain. It may help to point out to them that this process is understandable; however, their behavior toward you is unacceptable; and, they need to seek treatment to avoid causing you pain.

Why Did You Feel Hurt by What Was Said?

After you determine the personality of the person who hurt you and whatever outside influences may have played a part in their insensitivity to your feelings, examine what it was that made you feel bad. Were you bothered because you believe there was truth in what was said? Did it upset you because there was no truth to it at all? Would the words have hurt you if they were spoken in a different tone or in a different setting? Sometimes, it's not what was said that hurts so much as it is who it was said in front of. For example, maybe a coworker or teacher said, "You screwed this all up; you're a horrible worker/student." Maybe, this wouldn't bother you too much if you're the only two people within earshot; you might defend yourself and feel confident in the work you do. However, being shamed in front of others could not only elevate the level of hurt you feel but could also play a major part in how long you hold onto it. When around other people, you might not be so quick to defend yourself because you already feel embarrassed enough. When you can't defend yourself, you may feel angry at yourself which can cause you to feel worse.

Should You Apologize or Forgive Someone Who Hurt You

If the hurtful words spoken to you were in retaliation for something unwarranted that you said or did to hurt the person, a heartfelt apology including an admission to what you are guilty of may help mend your relationship or, at the very least, it may help the other person begin to heal. In contrast, if the other person hurt you without just cause, you have nothing to feel guilty about. However, if what they did or said continues to cause you grief, you need to decide whether you can let go of the pain and move forward without allowing it to direct your life along a less than deserved fruitful path or if you want to feel justice by taking actions to receive an admission of guilt and an apology.. Often, this is the most someone hurt can hope for and this process may help them feel a sense of release from the negatively they feel inside.

Free Yourself

Letting it go
Letting it go | Source

Can You Let Go Of the Pain Behind Hurtful Words?

Sometimes people hurt us and almost instantly or within a relatively short amount of time we can barely recall what happened or perhaps we remember what happened but we can't recall the name of the person who hurt us. For example, you may remember when you're 40 years old that somebody gave you a bloody nose when you were a teenager; however, you may not be able to recall who the person was or even why they hit you. You simply let it go. Amazingly, if that same person had said something hurtful to you or about you, you may never forget their name or what they said. In order to let it go, some people are able to accept and release what was said as something in the past (like a bloody nose) that has no relevance in their present. This is not an easy task and the more hurtful the circumstances the harder it is to let go but it's something to strive for to allow yourself inner peace.

How to Turn Hurtful Words Around in Your Favor

The process of breaking down the individual pieces of who said what and why may help to lessen the pain and to steer you in a more positive direction. In addition, it may help you learn more about the person who broke your heart or your confidence. The information you gather through this analysis may help you take a more in-depth look at your own imperfections and strong points, as well as those of the person who hurt you. It might prompt you to forgive and forget or to move past the negativity of what was said. It may also inspire you to recognize signs that the person who hurt you needs help or maybe they need somebody to show them what kindness looks like. At the end of this analysis, you will probably have a better understanding of who you are, who you are not, and who you aspire to become.

Write a Poem or Rap

Change the poem below by adding the hurtful words said to you in the quotation. Let them know how it felt to receive the words they said. Instead of telling them that you're not "a loser" or whatever they accuse you of being, show them through your response. Show them the good in you; show them your beauty. Look for the good qualities in the person who said these words to you and acknowledge in your piece that you may never be them or who they expect you to be but you have good qualities, as well as, bad just like every other human on earth. Let them know you will give your best to improve and to see the good side of others. And, always imagine how the person receiving your words might feel before putting them out there. Spread love, not hate. This exercise may help you move past what was said and minimize the significance of it regardless of whether or not you write it for your eyes only.

Sticks and Stones - An Anti-Bullying Poem


Lasting Effects of Hurtful Words Poll

How long have you been harboring something negative that somebody said to you? (Choose one answer)

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Questions & Answers


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    • tsadjatko profile image

      8 days ago from now on

      You have really well analyzed and articulated the problem and possible solutions or ways to deal with it. So much so that it seems to me a lot of this can be solved by simply developing a thick skin. Most of the time the real problem isn't the offender but the low esteem or emotional over reaction of the victim (so called "snowflakes" come to mind) which is simply resolved by realizing the world is full of insensitive people and to expect it. You can only control yourself and developing a thick skin may be a better way of dealing with it than going down a path of over analyzing everyone, everything and yourself. If you know who you are nothing should hurt you. If it does hurt you maybe you or the offender doesn't know who you really are so set them straight, you don't need to kowtow to anyone's assault on you.

    • moonlake profile image


      8 days ago from America

      I believe when people make nasty comments they know exactly what they’re doing. I don’t care what their life is like or what they’re going through they have no right to take it out on someone else.

      When my husband passed away my niece told everyone in the family that I went back to my maiden name. It was like she and her parents were looking for something on me. Her dad called my brother-in-law in Arizona told him. He called me ask me why I did that. I never went back to my maiden name I loved my husband and would never do that. It hurt my feelings at a time when I was already hurting. That was 4 years ago. I haven’t forgiven any of them and cut them all out of my life after 52 years of being family.

      Maybe some people see this as not amounting to much. I took as nasty vicious gossip.

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      I live with my girl friend and she said ... "You are not sexually attractive to me" -- how hurtful was that ? We are going on a European Cruise in two days and I can't get this comment out of my head.

    • firstcookbooklady profile image

      Char Milbrett 

      7 months ago from Minnesota

      Many times, that person makes those hurtful comments to guide you in your path, so you don't make the same mistakes that they made. Sometimes there is a hidden agenda to their control. It's always a shock and a surprise, to discover years after they are gone, that they were actually hiding something that they saw in you, but did not see in themselves. Good article!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      18 months ago from The Caribbean

      "The person who hurt you needs help or maybe they need somebody to show them what kindness looks like." This seems to be the case most often. Your article offers great advice.

    • HoneyBB profile imageAUTHOR

      H Lax 

      18 months ago

      Audrey, I hope it helps. I always find that when I analyze and organize my thoughts, I usually find more understanding in the imperfect human aspect and that in itself makes things hurt less.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      18 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      This information came at a good time for me. You've given some helpful guide lines. I'll be practicing these suggestions. Thanks.


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