4 Ways to Gently Let Someone Know they Have Hurt You

by Lisa H.

How to gently let someone know they have hurt you

Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me. -Anonymous

Have you ever been hurt by someone and not known how to let them know? This is something I’ve struggled with from time to time. I stew silently in anger, frustration, resentment and sadness while days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months and in some cases months turn into years.

Sometimes it can go on so long I don’t remember the exact details surrounding the wound. I just know I’ve been wounded.

Letting someone know they’ve hurt us is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and our relationships. After all, we don’t want to hurt the ones we love and hopefully, the ones we love, don’t want to hurt us.

Deepak Chopra wrote in his best-selling classic, “Ageless Mind, Timeless Body,” that almost all negative feelings like anger and resentment begin with the emotion of “hurt.” Chopra goes on to explain if ”hurt” is not resolved or released soon after it is experienced, it turns inward and eventually expresses itself as some other negative emotion such as anger, resentment, annoyance or irritability.

Next, he illustrates his point by recalling how small children deal with hurt.  He observes when young children experience emotional hurt, they immediately express their grief in the form of crying.  The child then releases the hurt, and moves on to something else.  Their attention is shifted elsewhere, and the hurtful moment is forgotten about.

Chopra’s theory is that as we get older we resist dealing with and releasing hurt, but instead hold onto and internalize it.  Chopra finally pinpoints how the negative emotions we internalize eventually manifest themselves into physical ailments. Our immune systems are lowered and we’re more prone to illness.

But expressing your injured feelings to others can be difficult, particularly those you‘re closest to.  Here are four ways you can let someone know they’ve hurt you.

Write a Letter

Writing a letter to the person who hurt you is a fantastic way to let them know their transgression. Crafting a letter allows you to express yourself EXACTLY how you wish, without being interrupted.  While you’re writing, you can pour your heart and soul into your words, and hit upon every point you want to make. If you’re interested in continuing the relationship with the other person, be sure to mention that in the letter.

Don’t give the letter to the other person immediately after writing it. Hold onto it for a few days, then read it again. If you still want to say what you’ve written, give it to the other person and wait  After you’ve written the letter, give it to the other person. Depending on whether and how they respond, you’ll know whether your relationship is salvageable.

Actions speak louder than words

Sometimes when we try to let people know they’ve hurt us, they don’t get the message.  They may be too self-absorbed, busy, indifferent, not know they hurt us or think what they did is no big deal.

As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. I know when I’m wounded, I tend to distance myself from the person who has wounded me. It is like the relationship stops and I can’t move forward until the air has been cleared. You might try distancing yourself, if it hasn’t happened already. For example, if you usually meet a friend for drinks every Friday night, opt not to go this week if you’re really upset with them. They may not have paid attention when you expressed your hurt previously, but your absence from a routine get together will be impossible to ignore.

Or, if you live with someone who has really let you down, say you’ll be leaving for a day or two.  If you have a trusted friend or relative you can crash with for a short while, great.  Resorting to actions to express your hurt isn’t childish or immature. Sometimes it’s what’s needed to clue the other person in to the depth of our pain.

Use fictional characters

Another method is to use fictional characters.  This works well when both people are too close to the situation, or struggle taking criticism.

For example, you might ask the person you are dating for advice on how to comfort “your friend Jane” after “Jane” learned that her boyfriend has been flirting with another woman.

If, in giving their opinion, they express sympathy for “Jane’s” plight, then afterwards you could reveal yourself to be “Jane.”  Hopefully, they are caught off-guard by your revelation, and have a better grasp of the impact their thoughtlessness has had on your feelings.

However, if you find that you have to do this repeatedly, and don’t feel comfortable in approaching them directly as you, that person is not for you.

You don’t want to be a fictional character in your relationships, you want to be yourself.

Be different than you usually are

Being different than you usually are is another very powerful tactic in helping someone who has hurt you  understand your pain.  By “being different,” you express your disappointment in a manner that is opposite of normal personality, which happens anyway, when we are hurt.  Hopefully, the stark contrast delivers a jolt to the other person, and drives your point home.

Let’s say you’re generally the quietest, most laid back person you know. Your hurt might cause you to unleash an angry tirade they won’t soon forget! The hope is that they’re truly shocked you expressed your anger so uncharacteristically, and the message is delivered.

Alternately, if you’re known as extroverted and gregarious, express your devastation in a muted and reserved manner.  Maybe a few impactful, quietly whispered words and a pain expression is all it takes sometimes.  Just like in the other case, the other person will probably be stunned, hopefully realizing just how upset you are.

Children readily express their hurt, but as we get older, we seem to lose our way.  If you believe Deepak Chopra, coming to grips with and eventually letting go of our hurt is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves.  All it seems to take is the courage to be vulnerable while at the same time understanding how to effectively express our deepest feelings.  Then, like children, we are free to express what we really want to: joy and happiness.

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