Repressing our emotions can be like keeping a beach ball under water — it takes a lot of effort, and eventually the ball pops up. Suddenly we are snapping at our friends, or getting really angry about something small at work.
TRY THIS:“Free write” out your feelings. Write whatever comes, without judgement, letting yourself be as racy and wild as you want. Then rip up the pages. Or write a letter to the other person saying all
you wish you had of (don’t send it though!). If you hate writing, try a timed rant. In a private space, set a timer for four minutes, and speak out loud all the things you want to say, no matter how silly or dramatic. Try to keep going until the time is up.
3. Question your hurt feelings.
Does your hurt seem huge, boundless? Have friends hinted you are reacting more than you should be?
If we have difficult past experiences we never worked through, those feelings will still be with us, and present day hurts can layer on top.
You don’t just react to your latest date standing you up. You take all the rage from the day a parent didn’t show up to take you for the weekend, or the time a friend at school decided they didn’t want to be your friend anymore, and express that, too.
TRY THIS: Counselling and coaching are all about good questions. Ask them of your hurt feelings. If you don’t know how to ask a question, try to start it with ‘what’ or ‘how’ over ‘why’ (why questions just tend to be rabbit holes of self-blame, so best avoided). Try things like:
What is this hurt feeling, really? If I could name it? Is it feeling abandoned, belittled?
And what experiences in the past made me feel the same things?
What person in the past has made me feel this way?
Have I forgiven that person? Or am I still angry at them, deep down?
Might I be sensitive to rejection? Did this person reject me as much as I think?
Researcher Mark Leary, in his work on hurt feelings, identified that rejection, and feeling we have ‘low relational value’, is one of the key reasons we end up with hurt feelings.
4. Manage your behaviour.
When we are hurt we can want revenge, or to hurt the other person. Such intrusive thinking is not ‘bad’. Thoughts are just thoughts.
But if you actually turn such thoughts into actions, you can end up more hurt than you already were, disliked, and full of regret.
TRY THIS: Ask a friend to be a support buddy who you can turn to and call when you are feeling like you might do behaviours you regret. Agree to time each call to five minutes (you don’t want to use them like a dumping ground). If you don’t have anyone to talk to, consider a counsellor.
Can’t seem to stop feeling sorry for yourself? Sometimes ashift of perspective can help, where we push ourselves to see things in entirely new ways.
TRY THIS: Think of the three people, dead or alive, real or imaginary, you most admire. What would they have to say about this situation? What about your 80 year-old self? Your five year-old self? What advice do they offer?
Note that one of the best ways we can improve our wellbeing is by being around others who make us feel seen, heard and appreciated as we are, instead of put down.
TRY THIS: Make a list of all the things that make you feel positive and energised. Then a list of all the things you think might help you haven’t tried. Pick one activity from each list and schedule it into your week right now.
8. Raise your self-compassion.
Being hurt can easily turn into self-blame. We think of all the things we could have said or done so the other person didn’t hurt us. Then we feel not good enough.
A faster way to raise self worth can be to work withself-compassion, where we try to treat ourselves with as much empathy and concern as we would a good friend.
TRY THIS: Write a letter to a best friend, giving them feedback on getting through a recent difficult experience and supporting them for their courage. Then read the letter out loud, changing the name at the top to your own. Notice how it feels to talk to yourself like a friend.
9. Seek support.
Does feeling hurt make you impulsive? Do you to say spiteful things, and then feel full of regret and embarrassment after?