How to be a Hurt Person Without Hurting People

Learning to not inflict your pain onto others.

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By Eric Ward on Unsplash

There’s a saying, “hurt people hurt people.” If you’ve never heard it or the phrase doesn’t make much sense when read, slow it down. Insert a comma or additional words to help bring it all together as intended:

Hurt people will, and often do, hurt other people.

Hurt people hurt people because they haven’t dealt with the remnants of their brokenness. And so, whether intentionally or not, they go around giving other people little pieces of their pain. Those innocent bystanders unlucky enough to be caught in the crossfire are then forced to deal with emotional carnage that they didn’t ask for and never saw coming.

We hurt people when we haven’t taken the proper time to heal. There is no time limit on becoming whole again. It’s different for everyone and each particular situation. If it takes six months, take the six months. If it takes five years, take the five years. Stop dating. Or at least be upfront with those we date about our current state.

Being upfront about where we are mentally and emotionally isn’t just about verbal expression. We can’t say one thing and then do another — lead people on with our actions and then say, “hey, I told you where I stood.” Say it. Mean it. Show it. There is no forcing ourselves to be ready to date seriously again. We can engage in actions that say we are, but it’s almost impossible to maintain if untrue.

Often, we continue dating even when we know we’re not ready in order to camouflage our loneliness. We’re filling the void left by our previous partner, or trying to. But that comfort is usually temporary, because we’re attempting to satisfy emotional emptiness in the physical. Essentially, we’re using others to avoid facing our pain — with total disregard for their feelings.

Nobody enjoys feeling lonely, but it must be faced. We need to be alone at times in order to learn about ourselves, what we like, what we need and who we are. Sometimes we need to learn how to love ourselves. And that can’t happen if we’re constantly looking for another person to give all of our love to.

Also, don’t make being alone synonymous with loneliness. The latter implies lack. In being alone, we just might discover that we’re pretty awesome company.

When we’ve been hurt, we have to come to terms with what happened. Accept that someone wasn’t who you thought they were, or did something you never thought they’d do. Take it at face value, without making excuses that may instill feelings of inadequacy.

Talk to the culprit to better understand their perspective if necessary or potentially helpful. But forgive them regardless. Not because they deserve it, but because you deserve to be free. Holding on to resentment possibly hurts them a little but definitely hurts you a lot. The wound won’t heal if you keep it open.

Speaking of, we have to want to heal. We probably always think that we do, but sometimes we don’t. Sometimes, we allow being the victim of another’s transgression to become a part of our identity. We let the pain define us and thus, letting go of it means letting go of what we’ve come to know as who we are. It’s important that we don’t become addicted to our story.

We’re out here pouring from empty cups when attempting to give ourselves to someone else while hurting. That eventually leaves us with a deficit. Once realized, we abandon ship or do something reckless and hurtful in defiance.

We’ve all heard the story about the guy who experiences heartache and proceeds to go around causing others sorrow. Perhaps it’s unintentional and not malicious, or perhaps he wants others to feel the way he felt as some sort of subconscious revenge. Maybe he just doesn’t care. He’s allowed himself to die inside. Either way, he’s hurting. No one goes around destroying other human beings if they’re not.

Same with women. There may be times where we punish current partners for the sins of others, and leave them with the impossible task of mending a heart they didn’t break.

Sometimes, all we have to give is our brokenness. It is possible on occasion that others can help us put ourselves back together. But we must be open to and ready for it. Ultimately, in order to avoid damaging someone who doesn’t deserve it — it’s imperative that we give ourselves due time, get ourselves happy, and healthy before trying to love them.

Author of a critically-acclaimed book on women and dating. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1687069786

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