Why Does it Hurt So Much?

Photo of a woman holding her head in her hands looking very unhappy

Someone says something unkind, or looks at you in a certain way, or you remember something… and you feel – not just hurt but devastated, overwhelmed, weighed down by the weight of the emotion it stirs up.

Have you ever wondered why something so small can have such a powerful effect?

Imagine yourself as a small child, so young that you don’t even have the language to explain what is happening, and someone is unkind to you. Because you don’t have the words for your experience all you can do is feel the hurt. Somewhere in your unconscious mind you store the experience away and carry it with you.

young child crying

Of course similar things happen and the emotion gets stored away, layered on top of that first awareness of how something or someone affect the way you feel. Gradually you learn that this is what we call ‘hurt feelings’.

Imagine that, throughout your childhood, adolescence and young adult life, you continue building up this emotional burden of hurt feelings without ever paying full attention to what is going on. Maybe you become good at being able to ‘put on a brave face’; ‘soldier on’ or ‘pull yourself together’.

Now, as an adult, you find that when someone who matters to you says something that hurts your feelings, your reaction can be overwhelming.  Maybe you blush a deep crimson, or you lose your temper or simply walk away crying.

What if you could see this reaction as if it were the result of all the layers of hurt feelings that have piled up since you were that tiny, speechless child, coming over you all at once?

And what if, in that same moment, you were that child again, with no understanding of what just happened, experiencing all this emotion?

a father's hand holding his child's handWhat will you say to that child now to make a difference? What can you learn so that a careless word, a certain look or particular memory will no longer overwhelm you?

Maybe whatever you think that child needs to hear is what you need to hear? Tell yourself what you know you need to hear and begin to believe it.

Notice the difference it can make.

Even now you can give yourself what you needed all those years ago, all through your childhood, adolescence and young adult life and it can make a difference to how you feel right up to the present moment.

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