In my book, The Hem of His Garment: Reaching Out to God When Pain Overwhelms, we look at not just physical pain, but emotional, relational, financial, spiritual pain, grief and loss, as well as the pain inflicted on the pain sufferer by the words or actions of others, which I refer to as secondary pain. Frequently relational pain and emotional pain go together. The pain can feel so great it’s hard to catch your breath, in fact, it can feel suffocating. So, we must answer the question: how do we deal with someone who hurt you emotionally?
When someone close to us inflicts emotional pain, it can be challenging to navigate through the overwhelming emotions and find a way to heal and move forward. Whether it was a betrayal, harsh words, or a broken promise, being hurt emotionally and relationally can leave us feeling betrayed, resentful, and even questioning our self-worth. The scars left behind from such encounters can linger, affecting our quality of life and future relationships. However, it is crucial to understand that healing from emotional and relational pain is possible, and there are effective strategies to deal with someone who has hurt us.
Coming to Terms with the Hurt Caused by Another
Our relationships with others form an intricate tapestry woven with joy, love, and connection. However, sometimes pain enters our lives, inflicted by someone we trusted or deeply cared for. Acknowledging the hurt caused by another person is a challenging but essential part of the healing process. It requires facing the truth, accepting the reality, and finding a path to forgiveness and personal growth.
The first step towards healing is recognizing the pain caused. Often, our initial instinct is to deny the hurt or downplay its significance. However, denying the impact only prolongs the healing process. It is crucial to acknowledge that someone we trusted, loved, or had a close relationship with has caused us pain. Accepting this reality can be extremely distressing, as it shatters the image we had of that person. But it is necessary to allow ourselves to feel, to grieve, and to understand the depth of the hurt caused.
Our mind, will, and emotions are complicated. Each person in a relationship brings to it our past experiences, wounds, hopes, and expectations. Assume the best in the other person, while acknowledging that even with the best of intentions, hurt can happen. The enemy seeks to divide, and one way he does that is by tempting us to pick up an offense when others say or do something hurtful. When we assume the best in others, knowing that in our best of intentions we, too, may have hurt others in other relationships, it minimizes his foothold.
In accepting the reality, it’s important to resist the temptation to dwell solely on the actions or intentions of the person who caused the hurt. While understanding their perspective may be valuable in certain situations, focusing solely on them can hinder our own growth and healing. We likely can never fully know what prompted their behavior or comments, since we often respond from the amalgamation of our prior life experiences, hurts, and impressions. Instead, it is essential to shift the focus inward and reflect on our own reactions, boundaries, and vulnerabilities. This is an opportunity to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate areas in our own heart that don’t reflect Him well, and that we need His help to change. This prayer and introspection offers the opportunity for us to gain insight into patterns in our relationships and empowers us to develop healthier ones in the future, becoming more like Christ in the process.
Another essential aspect of acceptance is reframing our expectations. One of the reasons hurt can be so devastating is because it often confronts our idealized version of a person or relationship. By acknowledging that nobody is perfect and that individuals are flawed, we can begin to redefine our expectations. This process involves detaching our self-worth from the actions of others and cultivating a mindset that embraces compassion and growth.
Forgiveness is a powerful tool in the journey of acceptance. However, it is important to understand that forgiveness does not equate to condoning the hurt caused. Rather, it is a conscious decision to release ourselves from the burden of resentment and anger. Forgiveness is not a linear process and might take time, but embracing it can bring immense freedom and peace. It liberates us from the chains that bind us to the pain caused by another, allowing us to move forward with a lighter heart, knowing that God is in a better position to deal with the other person than we are.
As we learn to recognize the hurt, it is essential to seek support from trusted friends, family, or professionals. Sharing our pain and vulnerabilities with compassionate individuals who can speak the truth in love and offer guidance and empathy can help us navigate the complex path of healing. They can serve as sounding boards, provide valuable insights, and remind us that we are not alone in our struggle, while helping us to see our own blind spots. “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14).
Reflecting on the Impact of Emotional Hurt
Emotional hurt is a common experience in relationships. When two imperfect people enter into a relationship, there is the potential for misunderstandings, conflict, and hurt. Throughout our lives, we inevitably encounter situations that cause emotional pain, be it heartbreak, betrayal, or loss. While physical wounds often heal over time, the impact of emotional hurt can be far-reaching and profound and impact us not only in the present but in our future relationships as well. It is in our moments of reflection that we begin to understand the magnitude of this hurt and how it has shaped our lives.
At its core, emotional hurt stems from our deep connections to others. As social beings, we form bonds and invest our emotions in relationships, be it with family, friends, colleagues, or spouses. If we didn’t feel a connection to others in some way, their words or actions would hold little potential for hurt. When these connections are broken, severed or damaged, the aftermath can leave lasting scars on our hearts and minds. The pain associated with emotional hurt is often accompanied by a sense of betrayal, rejection, or injustice, further intensifying its impact.
One significant effect of emotional hurt is the erosion of trust. Trust is the foundation upon which relationships are built, and when it is broken, it can be challenging to rebuild. Emotional hurt can leave individuals skeptical and guarded, making it difficult for them to fully invest themselves in new connections. This reluctance to trust can impede personal growth and limit the ability to form new meaningful relationships, ultimately leading to isolation and loneliness, which is one of the biggest tactics of the enemy.
Furthermore, emotional hurt can have detrimental effects on our esteem and worth if they are not fully grounded in our identity in Christ. When someone we care about inflicts pain upon us, it can leave us questioning our value and desirability. We may internalize the hurtful words or actions and develop feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness. The impact on our self-esteem can manifest in various ways, such as decreased self-confidence, difficulty in asserting boundaries, or even self-destructive behaviors. This is why it is so important to know our identity in Christ.
The impact of emotional hurt is not limited to our emotional well-being but can also have physical consequences. Studies have shown that prolonged emotional distress can lead to increased stress levels, which in turn effect our overall health. Chronic stress has been linked to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, weakened immune system, and mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. This connection highlights the importance of addressing emotional hurt and finding healthy coping mechanisms to protect our overall well-being.
Reflecting on the impact of emotional hurt can be a cathartic process, and God offers a safe place to take those hurts. It allows us to acknowledge the pain we have experienced and begin the healing process. Through self-reflection and prayer, we can identify patterns in our relationships, understand our vulnerabilities, and learn from our experiences.
Developing Empathy and Compassion for the Person Who Hurt You
Experiencing hurt or betrayal from someone close to us is an almost inevitable aspect of life. Whether it is a friend, family member, or colleague, the pain caused by someone we trust can leave deep emotional wounds. In such situations, in the aftershocks of the hurtful quake, it may seem impossible to comprehend extending empathy and compassion towards the person who has hurt us. However, this is what we would want others to do for us, and it’s biblical. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12 NIV).
Understanding Empathy and Compassion:
Empathy and compassion go hand in hand, yet they have distinct meanings. Empathy refers to the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It involves putting ourselves in their shoes, acknowledging their emotions, and connecting with their experiences. On the other hand, compassion entails not only recognizing another person’s pain but also feeling the desire to alleviate it. It involves offering kindness, understanding, and forgiveness, even when it may seem undeserved. God offered us forgiveness through Jesus’s death on the cross, when we have done nothing to deserve it. Because he did that for us, we can extend empathy, compassion, kindness, and forgiveness to others.
Practical Steps towards Developing Empathy and Compassion:
- Acknowledge Your Feelings: Before attempting to develop empathy and compassion, it is essential to acknowledge and process your own feelings. Acknowledge your emotions, allowing yourself to grieve if necessary.
- Practice Reflection: Reflect on the hurtful incident and try to understand the reasons behind the person’s actions. Consider their perspective, including any personal struggles or circumstances that might have influenced their behavior. This reflection can help you humanize the person who hurt you and foster empathy.
- Seek Understanding Through Communication: If appropriate and safe, consider having an open and honest conversation with the person who caused the hurt. Express your feelings and listen to their side of the story. It can be a transformative step towards finding common ground and building empathy.
- Cultivate Gratitude: Shifting focus from pain to gratitude can be a powerful tool in developing empathy and compassion. Reflect on the lessons learned from the experience and the strength gained in overcoming challenges. Embracing gratitude allows us to move forward with a positive mindset, ready to extend empathy and compassion.
- Set Boundaries: While cultivating empathy and compassion is beneficial, it is crucial to maintain boundaries to protect yourself from further harm. Setting clear boundaries ensures your emotional well-being remains intact, allowing you to develop empathy without compromising your own safety.
Letting Go and Forgiving
It is often said that holding onto resentment and anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Negative emotions can greatly impact our overall well-being, affecting our physical and mental health. Holding onto grudges and refusing to forgive not only hurts others but also harms ourselves. Our call is to be like Christ, even (and perhaps especially) when others are not. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 ESV).
Letting go and forgiving is to move forward, free from the chains of past grievances, bitterness, and resentment. Although it may seem challenging, the benefits of releasing negative emotions and embracing forgiveness far outweigh the difficulty of the process.
Moreover, forgiving is not only about the offender but also about ourselves. When we forgive, we choose to prioritize our own well-being over holding onto anger. We choose to extend the same mercy and grace that Christ extended to us. No longer constantly reliving past events, we release the burden we have carried to God, allowing ourselves to heal and grow. Forgiveness grants us freedom from bitterness and resentment.
Letting go and forgiving also cultivate healthier relationships. Harboring grudges strains connections with others, creating distance and hindering genuine communication. However, when we release negative emotions, we create space in our hearts and minds for understanding and empathy. By acknowledging that everyone makes mistakes, including ourselves, we foster compassion and are more likely to rebuild or deepen our relationships.
Nurturing Positive Relationships: Building Bridges and Fostering Growth
Developing Effective Communication
Effective communication lies at the heart of any successful relationship. It involves being able to express oneself clearly while also actively listening to others. By developing good communication skills, we can help avoid misunderstandings, build trust, and deepen our connections.
Firstly, it is important to be an active listener. This entails giving our full attention to the person speaking, maintaining eye contact, and showing genuine interest in what they have to say. Avoid interrupting or formulating responses before they finish. By doing so, we create a safe space for open and honest communication, fostering a stronger bond.
Next, practice empathy and understanding. Place yourself in the other person’s shoes to better comprehend their perspective, experiences, and emotions. Validate their feelings, even if you may not agree with them. This shows respect and nurtures mutual understanding.
Lastly, express your own thoughts, feelings, and needs clearly and respectfully. Use “I” statements to avoid blaming or accusing others. By communicating assertively and honestly, we create an environment where everyone feels heard and valued.
Building Trust and Respect
Trust and respect are the pillars of any healthy relationship. Cultivating these elements takes time, consistency, and open-mindedness.
To build trust, it is important to be reliable and consistent in our actions and words. Follow through on commitments, honor promises, and be accountable for our mistakes. By being trustworthy, we create a sense of security and reliability that strengthens the bond between individuals.
Respect is equally vital. It involves valuing each other’s opinions, boundaries, and autonomy. Treat others with kindness, even during disagreements, and avoid resorting to derogatory language or disrespectful behavior. By showing respect, we foster an environment of mutual appreciation, leading to healthier and more fulfilling relationships.
Embracing Emotional Support
Positive relationships thrive on emotional support. Being there for one another during both triumphs and challenges cultivates a deep sense of trust and intimacy.
Offering emotional support requires active listening, empathy, and the willingness to provide a safe space for sharing emotions. Validate the other person’s feelings, offer encouragement, and avoid dismissing their concerns. Be present, both in times of joy and sorrow, and demonstrate genuine care and concern. By doing so, we create a strong foundation for emotional support, helping individuals feel seen, heard, and understood.
Promoting Growth and Encouraging Autonomy
Positive relationships should encourage personal growth, providing support and encouragement for individuals to pursue their passions, dreams, and goals. Nurturing relationships should not be restrictive or limiting but should foster independence and help each person reach their full potential.
Celebrate achievements together, offer encouragement in times of self-doubt, and provide constructive feedback when needed. Enable each other’s growth by sharing resources or connections and promoting a mindset of continuous learning and development.
In conclusion, living life in relationship with others holds the potential for fulfilling interaction, joy, and encouraging community. But relationships are messy, and when we bring our own individual upbringings, personalities, wounds, expectations, and anticipations to a relationship, the potential always exists for misunderstanding, miscommunication, unmet expectations, and hurt. But we can learn to deal more effectively with someone who hurt us emotionally so that we grow through our experiences and learn to be a better friend, spouse, relative, or colleague in the future. Ultimately, we have to take our hurt to God and allow Him to heal our hearts, teach us our areas in need of His refinement, and be open to new relationships in the future. Healing is a process, but one that God wants to walk with us through.
What have you found helpful for dealing with someone who hurt you emotionally? We’d love to hear in the comments below.
Friend, if you are experiencing physical, emotional, relational, financial, or spiritual pain, grief or loss, can I encourage you to pick up a copy of my book The Hem of His Garment: Reaching Out to God When Pain Overwhelms. I wrote it in the crucible of pain, with you in mind. In it, I address the common thoughts and questions of pain sufferers, I openly and authentically share about my own painful journey, and I encourage you to hold on to your trust in God while waiting for your healing.
The Hem of His Garment
We all experience pain from time to time, and not just physical pain, but also emotional pain, relational pain, spiritual pain, grief and loss.
I’ve been there. I’ve experienced each one of those types of pain. I’ve asked the hard questions. I’ve searched the scriptures for biblical examples and lessons learned through pain and suffering. And I’m sharing a fresh perspective in my new book “The Hem of His Garment: Reaching Out to God When Pain Overwhelms.”
Here’s what Lisa Appelo, Author of Life Can Be Good Again: Putting Your World Back Together After It All Falls Apart, had to say about The Hem of His Garment: “The Hem of His Garment is a masterpiece of help and hope in deep pain. Michelle is the guide we all need when we’ve endured long past the timeline we gave God or God seems silent despite our prayers. Sharing her journey of pain with raw vulnerability, Michelle shows us how to renew authentic hope and navigate suffering that seems too hard to handle.”
The Hem of His Garment: Reaching Out to God When Pain Overwhelms is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook.com, Books-A-Million, and other fine book retailers.
Click here to learn more: The Hem of His Garment.