How do you react when your world is turned upside down, especially by the people you love?
How do you stay steady when a storm is raging inside you after someone did or said something nasty to you?
There are millions of people right now going through the emotion of hurt.
Each one of us, including myself, have undergone severe periods of hurt. I am not talking about situations where we experience unjustifiable feelings of hurt; when we inadvertently misinterpret other people’s actions and words.
I am talking about genuine offense. Someone has genuinely offended you and you have every reason to feel hurt. And this hurt wells up in you, knotting itself in dark, painful feelings that make you feel like inflicting maximum damage to the person who offended you.
How do you react when you are hurt?
Do you swing back in rage at the person who hurt you? Or do you seek to control yourself and ultimately calm the storm that is raging in your soul?
I have been hurt. Many times. And often I could not resist the temptation to call hell and high water on the people that hurt me. Sometimes I actually found myself praying that God will destroy my enemies. Yep! Then I remembered that I am commanded by the Bible to love my enemies.
Overtime, however, I have managed to control my reactions to hurt in a more sober and reflective manner. This of course does not mean that I don’t feel like hitting back in equal measure. I have however started to master the art of self control.
Below are a few tips on how to respond when someone hurts you.
1. Don’t overreact
Whenever people react to offense, they seek to inflict more damage than they receive. Whenever you feel hurt, ask yourself whether in the first place you have a genuine reason to feel that way.
Could you perhaps be mis-interpreting or over-analyzing the situation? And even if someone hurt you, avoid the temptation to react immediately. To react when you are seething with rage will only escalate the situation; and you may do or say something that you could regret for the rest of your life.
When you feel that dark cloud of rage start to build in your heart, do all you can to get a hold of yourself. By all means avoid the temptation to hit back. Sometimes you may have to walk away from the scene of offense to allow yourself time to calm down.
2. Get your facts right
Wait a minute! Why are you so worked up? Is there a genuine reason for you to get so riled?
Take time to access the situation and calmly analyze the facts. Soberly analyze the offensive words or actions and ask yourself whether they have any bearing at all. Are you really justified in feeling the way you feel; or could you be reacting unreasonably?
Perhaps someone had crossed you earlier in the day and you have been seeking to vent your frustrations on someone; anyone. And here comes Johnny Come Lately and says something that triggers that earlier offense. And you are now prepared to let him have it real good. This is the time to stop yourself and walk away.
Look at the big picture and seek to come out of a confrontation a better person. Seek to be the one who is more mature and controlled. Tell yourself that you have a higher Emotional Intelligence than the other party.
3. Let it pass
Another way to react when you are hurt is to not react at all. Just let it pass. Most of the time what people say or do to us is not such a big deal. You are bigger, more intelligent and stable than you know. You have the strength to let offense bounce off you.
Always remember that hurt is transient – it will pass. Do not allow yourself to dwell on the offense too long because the more you look at it, the more you get hurt. Just give it a wide berth and let it pass.
4. Give it time
Most often, what riles you in one moment ends up looking insignificant, even silly, with time. Time is the greatest healer there is.
I have often held myself from reacting to hurt and instead chose to give it time. In the end, I always realize that I could have messed up so many things had I reacted on the spur of the moment.
People think you are wise and mature when you don’t allow hurt and offense control you. Of course at the very moment of offense everyone will think you are a fool or a coward, but with time they will all come to see the wisdom of not hitting back.
5. Find inner peace
Your ability to find peace in the midst of a stormy confrontation will de-escalate the impact of offense. First of all start by telling yourself that you don’t have to answer back; or defend yourself. Keep telling yourself that the only opinion that is true about you is yours and God’s.
What others think or say about you has no power over you; unless you give it permission. As you get your mind to reflect inwardly about who you are as opposed to what someone is accusing you of being, there will be an inner peace about you that will make the hurt start to dissipate.
In this life you will always come across people who will do and say hurtful things about you. You will at times feel like rolling up your sleeves and let them have it. And in some instances a response may be required.
But always make sure your reaction does not exceed the impact of the offense. Ideally, you should follow the above five steps before you even consider reacting. But avoid responding to a mosquito bite with a sledge hammer.