Life is full of unexpected ups and downs.
It’s usually those closest to us who inflict that physical or emotional pain that turns everything inside out.
There comes a time in most people’s lives when they find themselves betrayed by someone they care about.
Whether this betrayal is once off or ongoing, the pain is real. The feelings of anger, resentment and betrayal are overwhelming.
Here’s 10 ways to respond when someone hurts you deeply and how to move forward.
1) Recognise where the hurt has come from
Before you respond to someone who has caused you pain, it’s important to work out where that pain has come from. Here’s two things you need to consider:
- Not all hurt is intentional. It might be unintentional, or even a simple misunderstanding. This doesn’t change how you feel about the pain, but will change how you approach the situation. Dig deep and trust your gut instinct. It can be easy to think the worst of someone who has caused you pain. Instead, try and look at the situation objectively to consider whether or not they meant to cause you pain.
- Focus on the present. When someone hurts you deeply, it can also dig up past hurts. This new pain can trigger pain from the past and cause a flooding of feelings that can often be overwhelming. Bring it back to the present. Focus on the current pain and work on getting through that. It’s about tackling the hill, not the mountain. The mountain can be chipped away at in time.
It helps to put some space between you and the person who has hurt you to allow you to process all these emotions.
It might take a week for you to be in the right headspace to have the conversation, or it might take you a month. That’s okay. Being ready is key.
Once you have a clear head and can look at your situation objectively, you’re ready to open up that conversation with the person who has hurt you.
Your emotions have a chance to settle, so you can be calm and prepared when it comes to responding.
2) Think about what you want to say
There’s no easy way to respond to someone who has hurt you deeply. But it helps to plan carefully what you want to say.
Don’t just approach them out of the blue. You will end out spilling out words, missing the point and regretting the direction the conversation takes.
Think through how you want the conversation to go. Starting off simple can often be the best way to approach the conversation: “Why did you hurt me?”.
If the conversation spirals in a direction of hurt and accusations, it helps to have statements prepared to help diffuse it: “I simply told you the truth. I just stated a fact. It hurt me when you did (insert hurt). I can’t change the truth”.
This first conversation is the perfect way to get the pain out on the table. It’s important to express your feelings (without attacking the other person).
Don’t expect everything to be healed from this one chat.
A deep hurt takes time to heal.
3) Avoid making accusations
Instead of making the conversation about them and what they have done with you, flip it to ‘I’ statements.
If you immediately open with accusations, the person will jump on the defensive and the conversation will turn into an argument.
One you don’t want to deal with.
Instead, talk about your feelings: “You’re always yelling” can flip to “I feel hurt when you raise your voice with me”.
Of course, you are still likely to get hit with anger and criticism at your words. Don’t back down. Simply use the line, “I’m sorry you feel that way” and keep pushing through with how you feel.
Most importantly, let go of the need to be right. When it comes to emotions, there often isn’t a right and wrong. It’s a matter of opinion.
By removing the defensiveness and hostility, you have a greater chance of coming to a mutual understanding and being able to heal some of that pain.
4) Leave the past in the past
When it comes to discussing a present hurt, it can be all too tempting to bring up the past.
It’s amazing how much a current incident has the power to bring up all those past grievances and to make that pain you’re feeling even more unbearable.
The problem is, this isn’t helpful. In fact, it only proves to strengthen those negative feelings you have towards that person.
When you’re ready to respond to the pain they have caused, keep it focused on the current situation. Work through those emotions and leave the past in the past.
That way, your relationship has a chance of making it through this and moving forward.
When the past comes into it, things get messy, and that relationship may not recover. Of course, if this person keeps hurting you in the same way, it might be time to consider whether this relationship is actually worth it. Whether you’re getting what you need out of it.
5) Recognise any part you played
Never feel guilted into taking the blame for what happened.
Often, people who hurt you will try and turn the tables to show you that it was your fault in the first place:
- If you didn’t do this, then it wouldn’t have happened…
- If you hadn’t said these words, then I wouldn’t have…
- If you just left, then we wouldn’t be here…
It’s a common tactic people use to deflect the blame and use you as the scapegoat.
Before you even approach them, consider whether or not you did play any role in what happened. It may be something as simple as misunderstanding what they said.
Just remember, this does not justify their actions, it simply helps explain them a little better. You are still not to blame.
Now is your chance to be the bigger person.
Bring up any present wrong or oversight that led to the hurt and recognise and apologise for the role you played. But make it clear that you aren’t taking on the blame.
Your own mistakes or actions doesn’t give the other person a pass on taking responsibility for their own actions.
If they bring up something you did in the past, then bring it back to the present. Try these words, “I’m sorry I hurt you in the past, right now I want to focus on the present situation and we can arrange another chance to chat to discuss this past hurt of yours”.
6) Don’t react
This can take a lot of self-control.
The best way to stop yourself from reacting and saying something in the moment is to pause before replying in the conversation.
Take a deep breath, let their words wash over you, and think of an appropriate reply that isn’t going to fire up the situation even more.
Just taking pause and breathing in can add that needed perspective to help you out. Plus, it puts you in control of the situation, rather than letting your emotions take over and run the show.
This is a skill and it can take time to learn, but it will help you stay level-headed and cool when responding to someone who has hurt you deeply – and will help ensure you get the outcome you’re after.
7) Choose compassion
While not always the case, more often than not, those who hurt others do so because they are hurting themselves. They have their own pain. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to let them off the hook for their behaviour. It’s important they recognise the pain they have caused you.
That’s why it helps to enter the conversation from a position of compassion, rather than being poised for an argument.
If you’re hoping to salvage the relationship with the person who has hurt you, then here are some great conversation points to add in:
- “I care about you.”
- “I respect you.”
- “I want to fix our relationship.”
- “I want to move past this.”
- “I want to understand each other better.”
- “I want to be open with you.”
This is about opening up the lines of communication between the two of you, rather than shutting them down.
Put yourself in their shoes and try and understand where they are coming from as well. If you’re looking for an argument, then they are going to shut down and fight back, or tell you they don’t care. If you’re compassionate, it encourages them to open up as well so you can solve the pain that exists between the two of you.
8) Listen to the other person
When you start a conversation with someone to respond to the deep hurt you’re feeling, it’s important that you’re also willing to listen to them.
Sure, you aren’t always going to like what they have to say, but conversations are a two-way street.
If you’re planning on getting your thoughts and feelings off your chest, then you also have to be willing to listen to theirs.
Give them a chance to share things from their perspective. It might give you a whole new outlook on the situation.
While it can be tempting to lash out and make them pay for the way they have treated you, it’s far better to let them share their side.
Once they have, you will have another chance to respond.
Remember, deep breaths.
This has to the be the hardest step of them all.
When someone hurts you so deeply, it can be difficult to just let it go and move on.
To forgive them for their actions.
If you’re not ready to forgive, then it’s not worth starting the conversation with them just yet.
Give yourself more time to heal and mend.
Forgiving someone for their behaviour means giving them permission to move on. It doesn’t mean you accept their behaviour – but you will no longer hold it against them. The grudge is gone.
You hold the power to completely transform your relationship with this person.
10) Set your personal limits
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean going back to the way things were before.
It’s important to put measures in place to ensure you don’t find yourself in the same position again. To avoid that pain you felt.
This can be achieved by setting your own personal limits.
Deciding what you’re comfortable with, entering back into a relationship with this person, and what you need from them.
Remember that you have the right to decide exactly what your personal limits are – and those around you need to respect them.
Moving on after someone hurts you deeply
While your goal is to mend the relationship so you can move forward, letting go of the past is often much harder than to do.
Now that you have responded to the person who hurt you, it’s time to move on with your life.
Here’s some tips to help you out.
Stop rehashing the past
Playing the past over in your mind only serves the purpose of rehashing those negative feelings and leaving them floating around in your head every day. It makes it very hard to move past it.
This isn’t a great way to live.
It doesn’t matter how many different ways you look at the situation, it won’t change what has happened. Instead of letting it control your life, let it go and give yourself a chance to find happiness again.
Let go of the blame game
It can be all too easy to place yourself in the role of the victim and hold onto the blame for what this other person has done.
Feeling bad for yourself is going to hold you back.
It’s hard to find true happiness when you’re too busy playing the victim and feeling sorry for yourself. You will find yourself stuck in a cycle of hurt and pain and unable to leave it behind you.
You will also find yourself entering into new relationships placing yourself as the victim from the outset, as this is a mentality you can find yourself stuck in.
It’s time to stop being the victim and take back control of your life.
Let go of the pain
This is often easier said than done. Letting go of pain isn’t easy.
The truth is, if you let the pain consume you, it slowly becomes part of your identity, making it much harder to shake.
You start to find comfort in everything that comes with the pain: the self-pity, the understanding, the compassion from others.
It’s time to realise there’s much more happiness for you waiting around the corner, simply by letting go of this pain.
Leave this story in your past, and create a happy future. One where you aren’t defined by something that happened to you.
Find the joy again
Being able to let go of pain is a chance to find the joy in your life again.
Think about tings that used to make you happy:
- Going to the movies
- Spending time with friends
- Eating out at restaurants
- Playing sport
If you can’t think of anything, then now’s your chance to pick up a new hobby. Find something that excites you. There are so many options these days, from sewing and sport, to scrapbooking and more. You may need to try a few different hobbies before finding one that truly speaks to you.
Finding joy again gives you something to look forward to each and every day.
The more joy you find, the less you will find yourself thinking about the past and wallowing in the pain.
It’s the perfect way to move on.
Find others to share in that joy
Finally, once you have found that joy again, you can find others to share it with you.
It might mean leaving behind those in your life who have caused too much pain and finding new people you can develop compassionate and understanding relationships with.
Share a meal, head out for a drink. Or go watch a movie and break away from that sadness that has been holding you back.
It might surprise you to find there are people out there who aren’t looking to hurt your feelings. Instead, they want to bring out the best in you and share in that joy.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
I know this from personal experience…
A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.
In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.
I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.