Colorado Life Coach: Hurt people hurt people
What does it mean?
When people are hurting desperately, they just want the pain to end. If they’ve not worked through their emotional baggage, they may not have learned how to treat others while they’re in pain. Instead, they:
*Say cruel things
Not a pretty list of words.
Anger is a secondary emotion.
Did you know anger is easier to access than sadness or hurt? It’s also more socially acceptable. Anger can make you feel powerful, and vulnerability can feel powerless. If you’ve been hurt by showing your weakness in the past, it may feel unsafe to do it again. Instead, you may just get angry.
Like many unhealthy alternatives, you may feel better…for a short time. But then, you may have feelings of remorse, bitterness, resentment, hostility, shame, or self-pity. Anger never solves anything. That’s because anger wasn’t the true emotion.
If you hide the true emotion, you can’t heal it.
So, what can you do?
If you’re the one who’s hurting, ask yourself what the true emotion is. What are you sad about? Where does the anger come from? What have you lost? What are you afraid of?
Find a safe place to express your feelings. Journal about it. Talk to someone who will listen without judgment. Tell them you’re scared, but you know you need to talk about this. Make sure it is someone who won’t encourage you to be angry, or blame others. Ask them to just listen to your heart. You need compassion and empathy for your hurting heart to heal.
Work on figuring out what’s going on under the anger. Start expressing your sadness and hurt more than anger. Seek out a counselor or coach to help you understand what’s going on, help you express it more appropriately, and move on to a more emotionally healthy life.
What if someone lashes out in anger toward you? Take a step back. Catch your breath. Disconnect emotionally for a moment. Ask yourself, “What are they sad about? What’s really going on? What’s under the anger?” If they are threatening either physically or emotionally, leave them until a later time. Safety comes first. Call the police if you feel unsafe, and can’t diffuse the situation or get away. If the situation doesn’t escalate, and you are in the emotional space to deal with someone’s pain, try to engage them on a deeper level.
Tell them you will talk to them, if they calm down.
Express your concern for their pain and sadness.
Ask if they’d like to share what’s really going on.
Be prepared to listen without judgment.
Express compassion and empathy.
See what happens.
You may be the catalyst for them to look underneath their anger to the pain. Now healing can begin.
Most people have never experienced kindness when they are angry. Their anger is met with others’ anger. In response, they feel afraid of the anger coming back at them, so they get more angry to prevent them feeling helpless.
It’s a crazy cycle!
What if you meet their anger with kindness? This does not mean allowing them to bully or abuse you. It just means you take the high road, and try to help them lower their need to feel powerful.
I’ve seen it work wonders! It’s amazing to watch someone who’s red in the face and fuming, suddenly well up with tears of sadness. You may be able to honor a person’s pain by becoming a safe person for them.
This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole, M.A.