How We Hurt Our Own Feelings

We hurt our own feelings all of the time. We think someone else can hurt our feelings by what they say and do, but this isn’t true. Our feelings don’t get hurt until we have a thought about what was said or done.

I know it doesn’t feel this way. It feels automatic. A person says something, maybe in anger, and we suddenly feel hurt…by what they said! But that isn’t what happens. They say something, then we have a thought about it that hurts our feelings.

Here’s an example. I’ve coached many parents about something their child has said to them that “hurt their feelings”. A common one is when a kid says something like “I hate you” or “you’re a terrible mom” or “I wish I had a different mom or dad” or any version of that kind of comment.

It seems perfectly normal that would hurt our feelings. But it doesn’t. It’s our thought about their comment or behavior that does that.

If I said to you, “I really don’t like your blue hair” and you don’t have blue hair, you are not going to feel bad about that. You’ll think something like, “huh. She’s weird.” or “I don’t have blue hair.” Maybe you’ll think I need to have my eyes checked. Whatever the thought is, if no part of you believes or attaches to my comment, you won’t have hurt feelings.

We only have hurt feelings when part of us believes the comment or thinks the person should not have said/done what they said or did.

In our example above, when a child says something about us as a parent or how they think about us as a parent, if we believe or attach to that comment, we suddenly have hurt feelings. But what if we didn’t? Then our feelings wouldn’t be hurt.

When my kids get angry and say something about me or my parenting in anger, I think thoughts like “That’s totally normal. Very developmentally appropriate.” “People say things when they are angry that they don’t mean.” “She’s feeling hurt, so she’s trying to hurt me.” None of these thoughts hurt my feelings.

This is always applicable. Likely you are trying right now to find the examples where this doesn’t apply. I’d love to walk through those examples with you and show you how you are hurting your own feelings. When you know this, you can decide to stop doing it!