How to deal with hurt

I have been hurting a lot in recent weeks. I can honestly say it’s the most I’ve ever really allowed myself to feel hurt, at its very depths, just as it is. And I’ve been having a lot of insights as a result.

Our default response

Hurt is something that most of us are terrified of – like it could kill us – and we’ll do anything to avoid it. There are a few different ways people deal with hurt. There’s closing, disconnecting or shutting down completely, becoming numb. Others try to smother it or escape from it with drugs, alcohol and other intoxicants. Some get really angry and project it outwards onto someone else. Others engage in the ’emotional drama’ of it, the stories and explanations, without actually feeling the hurt.

Being with the hurt

hurtI definitely fell into the latter category, but I’ve also engaged in the other strategies at different times in my life. This time – and because the heart opening preceding it had been so immense – I decided to just feel it, be with it. And woah, is that intense!

Some days, I did feel like it was going to kill me. But other days, it was just quiet and deep, like a bottomless well in my heart. It wasn’t until I separated out from the person who’d triggered the hurt, that I experienced more of these quiet, sad but somehow peaceful times of being with my hurt.

It is essential to feel the hurt separate from the person, stories or explanations. It’s actually these external things that bring the ‘unbearable factor’ to feeling hurt.

Receiving support

While this process of being with myself is a fundamental one, there’s no way I could have moved through it without the help of some dear friends. You need to reach out and talk to people you trust and who love you at times like this. It not only helps you to process some of the feelings you’re having, but you also need to feel held and supported in order to access the depths of the hurt.

It’s also been vital for me to use the tools and techniques I have, like ISIS, to feel the landscape of emotions within in a completely held space, and to connect with a place inside where I feel centred and solid in myself. Relating practices like Circling can also really help to be with where you are at, while being held and seen by others in a safe space.

The damage is done

man hurtingSadly, I’ve also caused a lot of hurt to a much loved one in my life recently. By being on both sides, I’ve seen that it doesn’t really matter how much the person who has done the hurting explains why they did it, sees things about themselves in the process, or feels deeply sorry for the hurt they’ve caused.

I mean it can help the mind to understand and bring a level of acceptance. It can help restore your faith in humanity to see that people – most of the time – do not intentionally hurt ones they love. Often when someone hurts you, they’re so blinded by their own dysfunctions or unacknowledged desires, that they don’t see you and consider the impact they’re having on you.

In the end though it doesn’t matter so much, because past a certain point, the damage is done, and no explanation changes that.

In the hands of the hurt

After this point, it’s no longer in the hands of the person who has done the hurting. It’s up to the person who has been hurt to decide how they manage it. Hopefully they open to it and just feel it – for themselves more than anyone. But they may feel unable to do that and just close and disconnect. They may also decide that it’s not right for them to be in relation with someone who has hurt them in that way. Or they may decide that they can honour themselves and still open to that person again, with new eyes.

Point is: it’s their journey.

A gateway to self-connection

Man ContemplatingBy developing a more friendly relationship with my hurt – accepting it just as it is and being present with it – it’s becoming a gateway to a deeper and more loving relationship with myself. The other day while Circling, a couple of friends were holding me in the hurt and anger I was feeling in my heart, until I reached a place where I just felt me, alone, in a dark cave-like space within.

It was rare for me to feel myself totally alone in the world, not in connection with another, not invested in my intimate relationship, not ‘out-sourced’ at all. The longer I stayed there, the more I experienced a solidity, self-knowing and wholeness in myself.

I still felt able to connect with others from there, but my perspective was so different. I don’t need anyone, nor am I looking for anyone to fill a gap inside myself. I am in my centre and if I love, it will be from this place of fullness.

This new standpoint is like a treasure I’ve been searching for all my life. I have opening to the hurt to thank for finding it.


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2 replies
    • Emma Swan
      Emma Swan says:

      Hi Katarina, thanks so much for this feedback. It felt vulnerable to share, especially as ‘feeling hurt’ is not something we talk much about in our culture. But it’s good to feel you resonate with it x


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