We’ve all experienced hurt feelings before. It’s no fun. In fact, it’s downright miserable.
Of course, we wish we could turn it off or somehow control our feelings so we couldn’t feel the pain or hurt. Even though there’s no such thing as an emotion that’s “bad” or “wrong,” it’s natural to wish hurt would go away.
But feeling pain and hurt is an inevitable part of being human. Instead of avoiding hurt, we can learn methods for comforting hurt feelings and soothing ourselves through tough times.
We hear a lot of buzz about self-care these days. People talk about self-care like a spa day, an extra dessert, or shopping. But turning to soft addictions (like eating and shopping) have the opposite effect on our emotions in the long run. While a long soak in the tub or nestling down with a good book are comforting ways to treat yourself, soothing yourself doesn’t always require a special activity.
Self-Care includes learning to soothe yourself in any situation. Treat yourself gently, with compassion, kindness, and affection. If you’re feeling hurt, it’s helpful to acknowledge and admit, “Okay, my feelings are really hurt.” Address your feelings as you experience them. You don’t need to wait until you find an hour to indulge.
Think back to when you were a child. What would your mom do to soothe you when you were a little kid? She would rock you. Maybe she would speak soft, kind words to you. She gave you a teddy bear to snuggle.
Literally rock yourself a little, hug something soft, or wrap your arms around your body in a hug. These actions are soothing to our system and help us feel safe and loved. Rocking is soothing because the gentle, back-and-forth motion helps us re-center and find balance. Sitting in a rocking chair, a swing, or floating in water produces a similar effect.
Acknowledging your hurt feelings is also a vital part of soothing yourself. I like to say, “name it to tame it” when it comes to feelings. So often, we run through emotions of the day without really thinking about them or truly feeling them. These emotions fester and build up until they feel out of control.
Researchers found when we name our emotions, we actually feel calmer, and they become more manageable. We recognize our feelings and become more mindful of the emotions we’re going through. Saying aloud (or to ourselves), “my feelings are really hurt,” or “I’m really upset,” calls out our emotions and helps us recognize the experience.
Once we speak and recognize our feelings, they become less confusing. Named emotions are easier to deal with and understand. This process holds true for all our emotions—sadness, anger, jealousy, frustration, and yes, hurt. When we name our feelings, we validate them and begin processing and working through the emotion.
When a friend is going through a difficult time, what do we do? We comfort them with kind words. We might give them a call and listen to their feelings. We’d reassure our friend everything was going to work out and tell them they’re strong. We’d empower them with positive language and kindness. We might offer our friend a hug, pat them on the back, or lean our head on their shoulder.
So often, we’re much harder on ourselves than we are on others, especially when we feel hurt. We may feel like we’re overly-sensitive, immature, or unjustified in our emotions. But feeling hurt is totally normal. Hurt feelings are something every person goes through, and it’s crucial we learn to self-soothe and comfort ourselves during painful times.
Studies have even shown talking to yourself in the third person is really helpful. So, I would say, “Judith, it’s going to be okay.”
Now, I know it may feel strange to use your own name in your self-talk, but this helps drive the message home for us. It resonates more clearly in our mind. Use your own name, give yourself a comforting thought, and treat yourself like you would treat your best friend.
Many people resort to abusive self-talk. How many times have you said, “Ugh, I’m so stupid!” or “Why do I always mess stuff up?!”
We would never say these unkind words to someone in our social circle. If a child were crying or hurting, we would never say “you’re so stupid for crying right now.” When we cry, we often beat ourselves up for being weak or vulnerable. Really, we’re human, and it’s perfectly okay.
Even if you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. If a friend made a mistake, we might help them see the lesson in the situation or to look on the bright side. We can do the same when we speak to ourselves. Look at mistakes as learning opportunities. When you face a setback, ask yourself how you can reframe the situation as an opportunity rather than a mess-up.
Our Year of More students learn many ways to comfort their hurt feelings. One of the most powerful is acknowledging those feelings, calling them out, and then using soothing self-talk (in the third person). We also encourage our students to give themselves a hug, or better yet, ask for a hug when they feel they need one.
Touch sends a comforting, soothing message to our brain. We crave the sense of touch from others and the connection it brings. But so many of us hold back when it comes to asking for comfort. Connecting with those around us is so important for helping us feel better.
Connecting with a higher power is also self-soothing. Pray or meditate when you’re feeling hurt or down. Take a few moments for a spiritual break, where you ask for divine protection. Remind yourself you’re loved and an integral part of the universe. Read an uplifting passage or listen to beautiful music that helps you feel spiritually grounded.
Take comfort in memories and thoughts of loved ones. When we vividly remember times when we felt loved and comforted, it awakens those feelings and helps us feel calm and soothed. Play through scenarios in your mind when you felt comforted and at peace. Remember happy times and moments when you felt your yearnings were met.
Find comfort in nature. Yes, even hug a tree! Never underestimate the healing power of nature. Being outdoors helps soothe and calm our feelings. Breathing in the fresh air and taking in the beauty of the natural world helps us feel connected to the earth and at peace.
Research shows it’s so much more empowering when we really treat ourselves with more affection, kindness, and understanding. We all make mistakes and experience painful situations. It’s important we understand these experiences are part of being human. Rather than expecting ourselves to avoid pain and hurt, we see these moments as strength.
Experiencing hurt gives us more empathy for others. Our past hurts and traumas may eventually become our gifts. It’s in these painful experiences we relate to others and feel sympathy for their circumstances. Our hurt eventually becomes a source of strength and power.
The next time you’re experiencing pain, hurt, or discomfort, treat yourself with kindness and love. Remind yourself of how strong you are. You are a gift to the world and those around you. Hug yourself, speak kindly to yourself, and treat yourself like a friend.
For more ways to empower yourself in any situation, please visit the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming More Life Training, where you’ll connect with others on their journey towards transformation. We’re also proud to offer many of our great courses for download. Don’t miss this opportunity for more learning at a special introductory price!
Dr. Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach.
She is a co-founder of The Wright Foundation and the Wright Graduate University.
Liked this post and want more? Sign up for updates – free!
The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.