February 17, 2019
Don’t let hurt feelings ruin your day
It can ruin your day if you allow someone to hurt your feelings. But still, it happens. When it happens to me I feel wretched. I want to fly to Spain and disappear. But getting away does nothing to assuage the pain. And it helps little to be reminded that getting your feelings hurt is a universal experience that you must learn to endure. The fact that it happens to everybody does not lessen my anguish.
People are the problem. There are some strange dudes in this world. For every normal person, like you and me, there must be a half dozen who delight in making the rest of us miserable. They get juiced by offending others. And they are here to stay so we have to learn how to handle them. So what can we do to help ourselves when we feel wounded by the behavior or comments of the misery-makers? Here are a few ideas you may find helpful:
Keep your mouth shut. An angry retort will make matters worse. This will allow the offender to enjoy the impact of their insulting words. So keep your cool. This gives you time to mull over what you just heard. At the very least, give the offender the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you were not the target of the barb that seemed hurled at you. Take a deep breath.
Try to think of a reason for which you can excuse the offender. Perhaps the person has hemorrhoids. Or his spouse just asked for a divorce. Maybe his or her teenage son got arrested for drunk driving last night. Maybe colleagues at work are giving him a bad time and he is just angry with the whole world. Make an effort to figure out what motivated the attack upon you.
Ask yourself some hard questions. Did a remark you made trigger the offender’s anger? Has your attitude toward this person been hostile or indifferent? Make an honest effort to determine if you helped create the problem.
Moving on, though you have a problem, you can control your reactions. Refuse to feel sorry for yourself. Choose not to nurse your hurt feelings. No need to make a mountain out of a molehill.
Don’t crawl in a hole. Keep your chin up. Yes, your feelings were hurt but you can get over it. Grab yourself by the nape of the neck and start putting this problem behind you. Bounce back and do it now. Choose not to allow the acid tongue of another person ruin your day – or your life.
Take a good look at your shirt sleeves. You may be wearing your feelings on your sleeves. If that’s true, ask the good Lord to give you a tougher skin, like the hide of an elephant. Decide that in the future you will not be so easily offended.
Find a quiet place and pray. Forgive the person who hurt you. First, do it in your heart. Then, when it seems wise to you and the Holy Spirit, speak to the person. You could say something like this: “What you said hurt me but I don’t want that to destroy our friendship. If I did or said something that bothered you, then please forgive me.” The words you speak are not all that important. What matters is the spirit in which you speak them.
Your response should be in person. A phone call seldom works. Waste no time sending cryptic messages by email in the hope someone can read your mind. Face to face is best. When you speak, do so graciously. Leave the barbs for the fence. Speak truthfully, but speak in love. Otherwise your efforts may fail to repair the relationship.
If offering forgiveness seems difficult for you, then beware. You may have become the “holier-than-thou” person you say you despise. It is risky to wrap the cloak of innocence around yourself and assume the other person is the hateful offender. The truth more likely is that you are not innocent. You sometimes offend people too. You can speak carelessly or sharply when you are suffering from heartburn or some other agitation. Because you also can be offensive, you can forgive those who offend you.
Do yourself a favor by refusing to tell other people about the hurtful incident. It only gets worse when you tell your friends about the terrible way someone has hurt your feelings. If you keep the matter to yourself, you will not drag your friends into a problem which none of them can solve for you. Wait until you have a more difficult problem to seek the comfort of your friends.
Finally, move on. Focus on the beautiful things in your life. Life is too short to spend time wrestling with issues that have no eternal value. Refuse to allow yourself to be defined by the angry words of another person. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy your family, your friends. Enjoy life. Live. Laugh. Love. Forgive yourself. Forgive others.
Finally, resolve never to give another person the privilege of hurting your feelings. Remember, no one can do it without your permission. + + +