What to Do When Someone Says Something That Hurts You
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, if it is 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 the ones 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.
In 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. 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.
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, Rap, or Song
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. You might feel so bad that you allow yourself to believe what was said even if deep down you know it isn't true.
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)
Questions & Answers
Five years ago, someone said that I am a doormat, a pushover and that nobody knows me. It still hurts me. How should I move past it?
That sounds like something somebody could have said about me 5 or 10 years ago because I was a doormat, a pushover, and I didn't share much of my feelings with others. I thought I was kind and forgiving because it felt natural to me to accommodate people or as some might say be a "people pleaser." However, at some point, I recognized my flaws, and I decided to stop allowing others to take advantage of my good will. I realized I could still be kind and forgiving to others, but I had to be sure to be kind and forgiving to myself first. In being kind to myself, I began only accommodating others when it's truly what I want to do (when it feels good to me to help someone else) and not when I feel used.
In your case, If those things don't describe who you believe yourself to be or who you were at the time, then realize the person who said that to you must have misunderstood who you are and instead of stating who they thought you were they should have let you know they have concerns for you. The person who said that to you made a mistake either in what they said or in the delivery of it. We all have flaws. Nobody's perfect. Allow yourself the peace of mind to forgive if you can. I bet the person never meant to hurt you at all and may even have thought they were helping you.Helpful 21
I recently had to feel the burn from an internet bully who said despicable, nasty stuff and lots of unthinkable swear words. I know I shouldn't take that seriously, but it bothers me so much that I literally cried because of it. I was not even mean to that person, but she used extremely vulgar language which left a big impact on my mind. How do I recover?
I'm so sorry you had to experience the wrath, insensitivity, and ignorance of a bully. Know that when bullies strike with no regard for how their actions and words affect their victims, it speaks more negatively about them than it does about the person they target. When I have dealt with bullies saying awful things to me, I've found that it helps me to wait a day, think about the context of what was said and then send a nice a little note off to the person letting them know how much it hurt me to hear their words and perhaps how wrong they are about their perception of me. Most of the time, I get a sincere apology but sometimes I get a person so wrapped up in anger they want to continue their abuse. Either way, I feel better that I let them know how hurtful they had been and I'm always hopeful they will see the error of their ways and make changes in how they treat others.Helpful 4
My boyfriend keeps saying mean things to me and throwing my past in my face. He tells me I will never be a housewife just a forty-year-old party person. How should I handle this?
You're in control of your own destiny - not your boyfriend. If you want to become a housewife someday, you can make that happen. Your boyfriend may have fears for your safety or he may be afraid he'll lose you to someone who will treat you better or maybe his meanness is coming from somewhere else altogether. If I were in your shoes and I thought this relationship was worth trying to save I would request from him that we have a nice talk - no name-calling-no insults-no screaming and then I would let him know those tactics are unacceptable. I would tell him how it made me feel when he said those mean things and I would tell him that couples should lift each other up and bring out the best in each other. I would tell him everybody makes mistakes in life - not one person on this planet is perfect. We learn from our mistakes and move on leaving our past errs where they belong - behind us - while trying to do better and be better. Then I would ask him if he wanted to work on making our relationship better. If so, I would ask him to tell me what his fears are in our relationship and I would put my concerns about myself aside and listen carefully to how he feels. Afterward, we will both be a little more knowledgeable about what we're doing to hurt each other and whether or not we want to change our behaviors to keep our relationship or not.Helpful 19
How do I get past a friend of mine calling me a pig and saying he wished that I died during surgery, just because I said he used to like me?
It might be possible that your friend said those things because he was so worried that you might die during surgery and he didn't know how to deal with the fear of losing you so he set his mind to distant you and protect his heart. If that's not the case and he said those things to be cruel then perhaps you should distance yourself from him and spend time with people who value you for who you are. If you still want to be friends with this person and the feeling is mutual then you should probably let him know how hurtful his words were and ask if he meant them.Helpful 16
I was buying a necklace and asked if it matched my coloring (hair, skin, etc). My “friend” said “smile," and that the yellowish color matched the yellowish color of my front crowned teeth. Do I say something to this person?
I think that if the comment causes you grief and you can no longer look at this friend without thinking about how their insensitive words affected your self esteem you might want to let them know that. However, if your teeth coloring really doesn't bother you then you can appreciate the fact that having a yellow tint to your teeth is better than having a mean tint to your spirit. Keep smiling...most people look beyond your teeth anyhow and they see the sparkle that your spirit emits.Helpful 15