Hurt feelings do not come about by what others do or say to us. It comes about by the thoughts we have about what others say or do to us. Essentially, it’s our thoughts that hurt us. Feelings do not come about for no reason despite the common comment, “she or he got angry for no reason!” This is simply not true. When we make that comment we may mean that the reason wasn’t big enough to call for such anger. But there is a reason, a thought, behind those feelings.
For Example, Let’s say someone says that you have large feet, but you have size 5 feet. Would that hurt your feelings? More than likely not. Why? Because you don’t have large feet and more than likely your thought would be, “they don’t know what they are talking about” But, let’s say someone says, “you’re not very nice.” Why could that hurt? Because you may entertain that there is truth to that statement, doubt yourself, and maybe even condemn yourself. The individual in the first example simply dismissed the criticism as simply not true, therefore their feelings were not affected. Whereas, the second individual entertained that their could be truth in the criticism, therefore their feelings were hurt. Not because of the criticism, but because they decided that their may be some truth in the criticism. Our hurt feelings come from our own thoughts.So, it is not what others say or do that hurts our feelings.
We Have a Choice
In order to change our thinking, we must first identify our thoughts. There are some who have made it a habit to repress or avoid their thoughts, therefore it is more difficult to become aware of the thoughts influencing hurt feelings. But there are others who are very aware of their thoughts, but are not sure how their thoughts can be altered in order to experience freedom from hurt feelings.
Now, sometimes our thoughts are true and if it is in regards to a painful topic then naturally we are going to experience pain, but it is not always a bad thing to experience pain. Naturally, we don’t like pain, but to be vulnerable and experience pain is one of the most heroic things we can do.
Jesus had a choice as to whether he would suffer mentally and physically for us. He had a choice and He chose the cross. His mental anguish was so intense that in the garden of Gethsemane he sweat blood. He was willing to do that for us. “He yielded up His spirit.” He chose to suffer and die. In the same way we can choose what causes us suffering. There are times where choosing to be vulnerable and facing suffering is the most heroic thing we can do, and there are other times where we suffer needlessly.
What we can avoid is the needless suffering that we often put ourselves through.What we often think is true, is often not true. For example, lets say a son believes that his mother doesn’t love him because when he approaches her she doesn’t show interest in what he is speaking about. So the son went all through his life believing that his mother had no interest in him and that she didn’t love him. But, the truth may be that the mother treats others similarly and instead isn’t accustomed to allowing herself to be vulnerable for fear of connection due to her own painful history.
This truth takes the personal aspect out of what the son believed was truth. The perspective that his mother’s behavior is not a reflection of who he is, but of who she is, sets him free from hurt feelings and allows the son to love his mother more fully.
“The Truth Will Set you Free” John 8:32b
* I will touch more in depth on how changing our thinking so as not to needlessly suffer in part 2 of this article. Your feedback is welcome.