Why You Must Acknowledge Your Hurt Feelings

Written by on March 25, 2015 in Emotional Mastery, Self-Care

Hurt Feelings


How much more pleasant life would be if only everyone kept their promises and the people we chose to open our hearts to always valued our feelings as precious gifts.

Imagine that anytime you needed help all you had to do was ask and someone would be there to lend a helping hand without imposing a measure of guilt or an expectation of return.

Of course, life is seldom that simple, but being the eternal optimists that we are we trust and hope for the best, again and again. Sadly, things don’t always work out. Promises are broken, feelings are hurt – and sometimes we are betrayed.

Rather than deal with the discomfort of confrontation, most will choose instead to bury their pain and anger and leave it to accumulate.

The problem is that when we avoid effectively managing our hurt feelings there is a natural tendency over time to alter our behavior so as to do whatever it takes to keep from appearing vulnerable and avoid being hurt again.

Honor your humanness and all of your feelings – the messy ones, the aches, and the pains – because we can’t have the dark without the light. ~Sabrina Harrison

Rationalization: Our #1 Tool to Bury Hurt Feelings

The ritual of burying hurt feelings almost always starts with some sort of rationalization. For example, if you had a difficult childhood, you might tell yourself that there are plenty of dysfunctional families in the world and others had it much harder, after all, you had enough to eat and you were never physically abused.

Oh, lucky, lucky you!

If a lover cheated, you might rationalize the behavior by convincing yourself that underneath the bad behavior your partner really does love you, and there’s been a lot of stress at work and anyone can make a mistake.

Maybe if you just try a little harder, give a little more.

While there’s a lot to be said for keeping things in perspective, it’s equally important to acknowledge and honor your feelings. If you’ve been betrayed, disrespected, or violated in any way, don’t pretend you’re not hurt or angry or try to rationalize your feelings away. Your feelings are real, valid and they matter.

Emotional Trigger(s) Are the Key

Sometimes hurt feelings are the result of a painful betrayal that would rock any one’s world. Other times it may be something that some might consider insignificant.

Whatever it is, if it caused you pain you need to acknowledge it and take some time to understand what’s really going on because what upset you may not even be the real problem.

You see just one of the problems with rationalization is that you can only accept a hurtful situation for so long.

Over time, those emotions you’ve been stuffing away could very well erupt when a completely unrelated incident serves as a tipping point and you suddenly experience an overwhelming feeling of hurt and anger without really understanding why.

When the Behavior Becomes Abusive

It’s not difficult to identify most forms of abusive triggers such as outright insults, yelling or swearing, but it’s much harder to recognize the subtle “death by a thousand insect bites” type of verbal abuse.

Just to clarify, something is verbally abusive if it demeans, or sends a message that the recipient is “less than” what they should be AND is unsolicited.

In some ways subtle verbal abuse can be even more damaging than more obvious forms because it’s something you may experience dozens of times a day and the sender is almost always someone in a position of trust such as a family member or spouse so there will be a tendency to believe the slights and ridicule, in time seriously eroding your confidence and creating confusion, embarrassment, and anxiety as you begin to see yourself as unimportant.

Very often verbal abusers become masters at manipulation. My ex-husband was a verbal abuser and he had a one-two punch approach where he would deliver a dig and quickly follow it with, “Oh, don’t be so sensitive, I was just joking.”

It’s worth noting that some people are critical by nature or habitually speak using subtle verbal abuse because they don’t know how to phrase things in constructive ways, or they are insecure or disillusioned with their own lives to take their misery out on those around them.

But conscious or not, abuse is never justified and you should never feel it is your fault, so you need to acknowledge the behavior and stop the cycle.

The problem with hurtful words is they can return to one’s thoughts, years after they’ve been callously thrown at you. They replay in your mind, spiking a sense of remembered pain – not unlike a nightmare where you wake up crying. ~Author Unknown

Learn to Communicate Your Feelings

Letting someone know they’ve hurt your feelings or offended you doesn’t have to be intimidating or overwhelming if you will plan ahead.

Be honest and straightforward and don’t drag up previous incidents or use phrases such as “you always.” Focus on precisely what has happened that has upset you and explain your reasoning. Listen carefully to their response. Perhaps there is something for you to learn.

If the person argues or becomes aggressive, walk away rather than allowing them to manipulate your feelings and behavior. You may need to seek counseling, or other outside assistance, particularly if the sender is a spouse.

This is about taking back your power and you will feel proud of yourself if you can be clear and honest, even if the outcome doesn’t turn out exactly the way you hope it will.

Understand Healing Takes Time

Some hurts are obviously unintentional and easily forgiven once they are acknowledged.

Other more serious or long-standing wounds take time, the willingness to go through a process of self-discovery, and the understanding that sometimes the only way to heal a deep seeded hurt is to let go of a situation or relationship that no longer serves you.

Always know the difference between what you’re getting and what you deserve. ~Author Unknown

Relationships can be challenging under the best of circumstances, which is why it is so important to do the work to establish healthy personal boundaries. No one else can do that for you.

If you genuinely feel wronged by somebody else, you are the person responsible for making them aware. It helps us all when we’re willing to teach each other to be better and not shy away from it because it is painful or embarrassing.

Honoring your hurt feelings isn’t a sign of weakness and it doesn’t mean you’re giving in to them. Indeed, the process of acknowledging your feelings and working through them will leave you feeling more confident and freer than ever since you will no longer be lugging around the baggage of those long-buried emotions.

Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click here.


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15 Reader Comments

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  1. Welcome Anne! Thank you so much for taking the time to share and to let me know you found comfort in my article! The beauty of life is that so long as we allow ourselves to remain open it’s never too late to learn or grow. Wishing you all the best!

  2. ANNE says:

    I found so much inner healing in this article. I was taught all my life from a little child to keep my feelings in, never to feel anger, hurt or disappointment.
    I am now 71 years old and just now learning it’s okay to share hurt feelings.
    Thank you for this article

  3. Sherill says:

    Never keep hurt feelings inside…I learned in a seminar for positive thinking that keeping hurts inside causes cancer. I totally agree with the author about identifying the hurts.

  4. lynne says:

    Hi, I felt betrayed once and acknowledging the hurt feelings made it easier for me to move forward. Healing really takes time but it is the only way to free yourself from this bondage of hurt and pain. Thanks for sharing. Great post.

  5. Suzie Cheel

    Marty how timely- I was working through an exercise this week that brought up a hurt for me from about 13 years ago that I thought I has released. I am painting and journaling this out the issue this week. This journey of self discovery and healing has many twists and turns. Thank you
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…How To Ramp Up Your Abundance With A Gratitude JournalMy Profile

  6. I’m really glad you found value in the article Dave. I don’t know about your “go with the flow” tendencies but I do know you are a very kind and thoughtful person, and those are wonderful qualities. I really believe the root issue is learning to set health boundaries which goes a long way toward removing the need to confront others. Stay tuned, got something coming on that in April. 🙂

  7. Thanks Mark, always appreciate your thoughtful insights and I’m glad you found value in the article. 🙂

  8. Thank you so much for sharing your story Better. That is a perfect example of the importance of speaking up and how it can help both parties. Beautifully said. 🙂

  9. Excellent analogy Sue – throwing napalm on a fire. Ouch! Well certainly some people are more difficult to confront than others, but in the end it’s really about setting healthy boundaries. So if it’s someone that happens to be in your life on a regular basis and you can’t remove or minimize your exposure to them then it would probably be worth the effort to work out how to face the music. And you are so right about the value of having a strong support system. Thanks so much for contributing to the conversation! 🙂

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your story Jeanette, and good for you for speaking up! It sounds like you handled the situation perfectly and what a great example you set, not only for those around you but for your bridge partner. 🙂

  11. Sue Kearney says:

    Sometimes, I have found, I can’t productively acknowledge my hurt feelings to the sender of the hurt. In some cases (fewer and fewer as my intentional life progresses) it’s like throwing napalm on a fire.

    Luckily, I have other people who will receive my acknowledgement with love and support me through processing it.

    Thanks, Marquita, for writing this.

    Love and light,
    Sue Kearney recently posted…Freedom from perfectionism — shift to ready-go-resetMy Profile

  12. Thank you for reinforcing that we need to express our feelings as no one can read our mind and guess what may be bothering us.

    Just this week I attended a ladies luncheon and we were told not to continue on a topic that was being discussed. It was embarrassing and uncalled for. I could have not said anything and take the easy way out but the next day I spoke to the organizer and told her that she had embarrassed several of the ladies (including myself) and asked her what right she had to decide what we were “allowed” to talk about.She apologized as she did not realize that what she had done made people feel uncomfortable..

    So we do need to speak up, admit that when we have been hurt, an address our feelings rather than burying them.
    Betty Eitner recently posted…March is Women’s History Month – Part 4 – Women in AVIATIONMy Profile

  13. Mark

    M, I love that quote from the unknown source that advises us to know the difference between what you’re getting and what you deserve!

    It times in so well with your overall message, of setting the proper boundaries.

    And not letting others purposely manipulate us.

    That’s really good, practical advice. Because there simply no plausible reason for anyone to attempt to hurt someone else’s feelings!

    That’s a sure sign (in my book) anyway, that we probably need to part ways!

    Thanks for sharing some really solid and extremely valuable advice M! I’ll definitely share this one!
    Mark recently posted…So What Can Savvy Marketers Learn From One Of The NFL’s Oldest Plays?My Profile

  14. Dave Cenker

    I have always been a very reserved individual. You may not be able to tell it from my writing, but I tend to go with the flow when it comes to all forms of relationships involving verbal communication. And, it’s not healthy, I know.

    To be able to freely communicate all feelings – good, bad, and everything in between may be uncomfortable, but it is necessary. I know that. Acting on what you know to be right is often so much more difficult than it seems. We don’t bring up something confrontational because we fear the backlash. And by we, I guess I mean me.

    Writing has been a crutch of sorts for me – and a good one at that. But, I know that I need to translate my vulnerability and authenticity through the written word over into the verbal word – at least to some degree. I appreciate the kind and insightful observations and suggestions you have made Marty. This will be on my short list of things to work on in the near future.
    Dave Cenker recently posted…Thorn bushMy Profile

  15. Marquita — it took a long time for me to acknowledge my hurt feelings. Just today I was playing with my regular bridge partner and she scolded me for mistake I had made. When we left the table, I told her that she had embarrassed me in front of the other players and that when I make a mistake I acknowledge it and don’t need someone else to do it for me. We’re good friends and she immediately apologized. But if hadn’t said something, I would have been upset for the rest of the round and she will think twice before speaking out again.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Have You Refreshed Your Social Media Accounts Lately?My Profile