Tag Archives: Fear of rejecting

10 crucial steps when hurt or angry

Have you been hurt recently? Do you feel left out by someone? Neglected? Misunderstood? Unloved? Are you angry? Sad? Feeling powerless? We all go through these emotions at one point or another and the degrees vary massively according to circumstances. Personally, this has been one of the areas of self-development where I have evolved the most over the years (which I am incredibly thankful for). My former pattern of dealing with emotional pain was rather explosive and so I would tend to end up in very unpleasant and quite often incredibly dramatic situations as a direct result. I have since found a strategy that has worked wonders for me and continues to do so when dealing with emotional hurt or anger. Would you like to know the 10 crucial steps when hurt or angry? Keep reading.

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  1. Remove yourself from the situation
    Don’t ever confront straight away when you are emotionally wired. When you’ve just been hurt, chances are you won’t be thinking clearly and you might end up saying a lot of things that don’t help the situation in any way. Keep in mind that you can’t reverse what you’ve said, so be clever and start by removing yourself from the situation. Go to the toilet, go for a walk, go home, close down your computer /leave your phone (if it was an email or a text) or find a different escape.
  1. Breathe
    When your emotions are all over the place you’ll probably be breathing in a shallow way, which doesn’t give you the oxygen your brain requires to function in a rational manner. Rational is what we want, so breathe.
    Take some deep breaths. I like to inhale while counting to four slowly and then I exhale in the same pace (this super simple breathing technique actually works wonders in most situations, so it would be a good idea to make a note of it). Keep going till these slow, deep breaths become natural.
  1. Write it down
    This might seem rather old fashioned, but writing down what you would say to the person right here and now can be a great way of getting it out of your system without doing damage. The thing to keep in mind here is to never send, email or text what you have written. You are writing these things in order to gain perspective – nothing else. So write it all down with nothing holding you back. Let go. Write exactly what’s on your mind. You can do this as a letter or simply a brainstorm – just make sure you get whatever is hurting you out of your system.
  1. Take a break / sleep on it
    This one is probably one of the most important steps in this guide. Take. A. Break. Do something completely different for a little while. If you can, postpone doing any more about this today – sleep on it. However, if you must confront today, take a break first; Do the laundry, the dishes, homework, go to the gym, go for a run, have a nap, go for a walk, go grocery shopping, paint, sew – anything! (Personally, I prefer activities where I remove myself from home and get my pulse going – exercise raises the happiness levels dramatically and usually ends up changing my perspective on things). Try to not think of anything while doing this, but if you must, then make sure you let your thoughts come and go. Acknowledge that they are there and leave them be, so to speak. Don’t do anything about them.
  1. Analyse
    Why did the person act as he / she did? What’s going on in his / her life at the moment? Is there a background to this whole story that you might not know so much about? If you know anything about this person’s upbringing, value, friends or family, can this have affected what happened earlier? Is the person stressed? Jealous? Keep coming up with more questions and answer them as well as you can. The thing is, you can never know exactly what’s going on inside another human being, but usually, you can come pretty close, and by doing so you get closer to gaining an understanding of why everything happened as it did, which will make it easier for you to confront in a constructive way.
  1. Status
    Having gone through all the former steps, where are you now? Try reading the result of step 3 – are these still your feelings and thoughts? Without knowing, my guess would be that you are probably not as angry or hurt as you were earlier on. Maybe the reason for confrontation no longer exists? (In which case congratulations! Your work here is done.) By performing the 5 steps prior to this one, you have created a huge advantage. If you confront someone with understanding and calmness, you will get your message through much clearer and will in most circumstances be met with more positivity and empathetic emotions. Chances are the whole thing will be resolved much faster than you thought or, at least, that the person will be more open to what you’re saying than you ever would have imagined.
  1. Plan your confrontation: Format
    Would you like to write a letter, text, make a phone call, meet up with the person? This is a very personal choice and quite often it’s decided for us – e.g. it’s not always easy to meet up with someone who lives half way across the world. However, keep in mind that the written word is more often than not misunderstood. Depending on who you’re confronting, it might still be the best way to go though. Was the person stressed? Maybe best to write down what you have to say so the person can read it in his / her own time. Personally I prefer confronting face to face. When we communicate, about 70% of our communication is in our body language, so if you meet up it will be a lot easier for both of you to really understand each other. Just make sure you keep the whole thing calm. Research show that as soon as you start screaming and shouting at each other, you no longer actually hear one another. All you react to is body language….and let’s face it. Angry body language is never a pleasant sight.
  1. Plan your confrontation: Avoid starting sentences with the word ‘you’
    A general, very wise, rule when speaking to others is avoiding the start of a sentence with the word ‘you’. Another way to put it is ‘don’t point fingers’. You have absolutely no idea what’s going on on the other side of the ball court – stick to your own side. E.g. instead of saying ‘you are not interested in what’s going on in my life at all’, you could say ‘I feel like my life has no importance on your list of priorities’. Do you see the difference? Another example could be ‘You don’t love me’ as apposed to ‘I become unsure of whether you love me when you do this’. If you start with ‘I’ you’re staying on your side of things and the person you’re confronting will most likely not have the same urge to defend him- / herself if you’re not attacking (which you very easily could be by starting the sentences with ‘you’).
  1. Plan your confrontation: Ask questions
    There’s a very good chance that you have no idea what’s going on in the other person’s life. You could easily have misunderstood the whole thing. E.g. I once received a gift that seemed rather expensive from my ex mother-in-law. When saying thank you, I used the words ‘this is far too much – you shouldn’t have’. Her reply was ‘Maybe it was a bit too much, actually.’ Auch. I was hurt. Why did she give me the present in the first place if this was how she felt about it? Unfortunately I never got to ask the following question; ‘What did you mean when you said that?’ – I really wish I had. Because (as a friend of mine pointed out to me afterwards) she might have meant that she didn’t want me to feel bad about receiving something so expensive. What I heard though was ‘you’re not worth that much money’, but in reality she probably just didn’t want me to feel bad about receiving it in the first place.
    Another example; Recently I found myself texting a friend of mine several times without getting a reply. I was hurt and felt like he didn’t care about me as he was obviously trying to avoid my question. I then wrote ‘how come you’re not answering me?’ and he immediately replied and apologised with a very, very good excuse after which he answered my question and all was good. So, in short, ask questions. Whatever happened might have been meant in a very different way than how you perceived it.
  1. Follow through
    You’ve done all the steps – it’s time to follow through. Actually confronting someone can be a very overwhelming step – especially if you, as most people, fear rejection and / or confrontation for that matter. But believe me, it’s worth it. How can we ever know what’s going on with each other if we don’t speak up? Read this, if you need a little push. Go for it. Confront the person that hurt you and remember that there are so many misunderstandings out there every day. This just might be one of them.

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Good luck. ❤️

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‘No’

When studying to become a teacher, I specifically remember listening to a radio show one morning where the host was interviewing a Danish Family Therapist called Jesper Juul. The subject was ‘the importance of ‘no” when raising children. Jesper Juul claimed that parents today have such limited time with their children that they tend to say ‘yes’ and allow pretty much everything – mainly out of guilt. He claimed that parents are afraid of saying ‘no’, as they fear the child might feel unloved otherwise.
The interview was rather long so I’ll go straight to his point which was that a ‘no’ can be a huge declaration of love – quite often even more so than a ‘yes’. Children need their parents to set limits. A world with no limits is big and scary. Children need structure and they need specific guidelines as this gives them a sense of security. So really, saying ‘no’ can be the best you ever did for them.

As Jesper Juul is a family therapist, his theories and thoughts will obviously mainly deal with family issues. However, I find the point from above rather transferable to all relationships in life.

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Speaking to friends and family I’ve noticed how the fear of saying ‘no’ has become a common tendency. Even more so is the fear of hurting others, which I guess is a very positive thing – not a pretty picture if we all wandered around hoping to hurt one another. What is striking though is, that the fear of rejecting – the fear of saying ‘no’ – is present even when wanting to protect one self and set own limits. But why do we fear this so much? There are so many ways to say no, to set limits and define oneself. Why has setting boundaries become the equivalent to hurting or even violating others?

I recently wrote about meeting Lis (if you missed it, you can catch up here) and how she has showed me a new way of perceiving the world. The fear of hurting others was a subject we spent a rather large amount of time on – not because I’ve ever been that scared of conflict, but because I simply didn’t want to push particularly one person away even though he was driving me insane!

I had this person on the phone almost daily during a long period of time as he was panicking about his relationship in which he seemed to be constantly running his head against the wall. He blamed his parents, his partner, his job, the weather – you name it – for the pain he was going through. It was never his own responsibility and every time I came up with ideas as to how he could confront his partner in order to move forward (i.e. take action), he would somehow avoid doing anything by coming up with a negativity of some sort. I often felt like shaking him! I desperately wanted him to wake up and smell the coffee. He was being run over by his partner to such a degree that it was scary, and not because his partner was a bad person, but because he was so incredibly afraid of defining his own limits. He knew exactly what to do – he even said it out loud – but he was scared of the outcome, so he never did a thing.

With time, I found myself becoming rather honest with him. Frustration got the best of me and once in a while the truth became slightly brutal, resulting in him excusing himself and hanging up. I actually hoped he would tell me to back off, but he never did. He never said ‘enough is enough’ – not to me and not to his partner. He just succumbed to these ‘strong women’ – regardless of what they did to him.
It came to a point where I no longer felt like picking up the phone when he called me. My heart bled for him, I just couldn’t stand being the witness to how he slowly resigned from life. No matter what advice I gave him, he didn’t listen. He just let life be the way it had always been and as a result I backed off.

Looking back, I can now see why the whole thing bothered me so much. For one, I truly wanted him to be happy and seeing him in this state was awful. But what’s even more striking is that he reminded me of my ex boyfriend. Oh yes – the painful truth. My ex and I were so out of balance that I became more and more nasty trying to push him away and he became clingier as a result – it was horrible! Claustrophobia, right there. So why didn’t I just leave? I was scared to. I was afraid of being alone. I was afraid letting go of him would mean turning into the strange cat-lady type (let’s be honest – we all fear that scenario). But, as it goes, the lesson kept repeating itself and eventually I was forced to let go. Thankfully.

I spoke to Lis about my struggling friend and how I should cope with it all. Lis asked me what I believed would happen to him if I straight up told him how I perceived the situation. Easy question! (I had pretty much done this already, although he got the ‘light’ version) I knew he would get hurt.  The particularly painful part though was that he wouldn’t fight back – he would just let me do it and maybe not call for a few days till he desperately needed someone to talk to again. Then Lis asked me what actually happened to him when I hurt him. This was more of a difficult one. Erhm… He would get sad? Lis smiled. Calmly she said ‘By confronting him you might hurt him. True. But hurting someone isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You start this person’s self-development as you force him / her to look within and deal with the issues at hand. In the end, not only are you claiming your own limits – which is the most important for you – you are also forcing him to set his own limits. You are doing him a favour. He just can’t see it yet.

As she said those words I had an epiphany. My older sister who didn’t always have a lot of patience when we were growing up, would sometimes be quite honest with me. As in, brutally honest. And I would hate her for it from time to time, but the truth is she has sparked quite a few of my most rewarding self developing adventures this way. Tough love, some would call it. Well, today I’m grateful – because it worked. So maybe Lis had a point?

I’m not saying we should all walk around criticising each other on a daily basis. I’m saying that if someone does something that, in one way or the other, somehow crosses your boundaries or asks you for advice and giving it ends up as a frustrating experience, there is absolutely NO reason not to do something about it. Just make sure you deliver the message in the nicest way possible. Constructive criticism, some would call it. It’s a win-win really. You set your own limits (which basically means you feel you are in control of your own life) and you might end up doing this person a favour – potentially a life altering one.

Is someone doing something that frustrates you? Something that crosses your boundaries? What’s holding you back from being honest? How do you feel about the word ‘no’? Do you fear rejection? Do you fear conflict? Why?

Or has someone been slightly more honest than you would have preferred recently? Did it hurt you? How and why? Is there some truth to it? Remember, that no matter how painful it gets, it triggers your self-development when used wisely. You can choose to hate anyone who confronts you or you can listen to what this person says, take it in and do something about it. Might the situation help you in the long run? Maybe one day you will end up being grateful to this certain someone..

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