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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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’).
- 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.
- 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.
Good luck. ❤️