“Hurt people hurt people.” I have been told that phrase over the last few years more times than I can count. I absolutely hate it. And here’s why.
I understand the concept of the phrase. I understand that sometimes when people get hurt (whether that’s spiritually, physically, or emotionally), they can respond by harming other people. So there is some truth here. However, I believe people who are injured can work towards healing in healthy ways without having to hurt others. I do not think it is inevitable that just because you are hurt means you’re going to harm someone else. I think it’s important to guard yourself from doing that, but if you keep yourself from reaching out to people because you believe you’re going to harm them, there’s no way you’ll be able to work tonwards and through healing. You can’t do it on your own. You don’t have to hurt someone else to heal yourself. You don’t need to take your anger out on someone just to feel heard. You don’t need to invalidate someone’s feelings to make it seem like yours count.
If you are hurt, you are allowed to feel that pain. You can talk to others. You can focus on yourself when you need to. You can distance yourself from people who have wounded you or remind you of your wounds. You can heal. It’s okay. You don’t have to hurt someone else.
On the other hand, I don’t want to be the person who thinks, “Oh, I don’t want to get involved in that mess. It’ll just bring me down, and they need to figure it out on their own.” If someone I know needs help, I need to help them. I should want to help them. There is a fine line, however, between helping those who are hurting and hurting yourself while trying to help someone. If you don’t think you’re the right fit for what they need, refer them to someone else. If you don’t have a good relationship, see if you can get a mediator or again refer them to someone else. But don’t let people go on hurting just because you’re scared you’ll also get hurt in the process. Try. Be vulnerable. Help someone.
Vulnerability is scary. It can have terrifying consequences or it can bring help and healing beyond what you could’ve imagined. Use your hurt for something good. Show others you are hurt. Do not hide it because you’re scared of damaging a relationship, a reputation, or someone. Obviously don’t blow it out of proportion and only share it with who you need to, but don’t cover it up. The longer you do that, the more likely it is that you will harm someone. Open up. Speak your mind. Be vulnerable. Ask for help. Help others. Heal.
I am personally still working on healing from pain I’ve had in the past, but here is a list of things that have helped me in that process. It’s not all-inclusive, but find out what works for you.
- Distance yourself from the people or things that are causing you harm. If you are the person causing yourself harm, reach out for help. I have my own experience with that (which I’m hoping to write on soon), but feel free to reach out to me too! You are not alone.
- Reach out to someone you trust and ask for their help, guidance, and prayer.
- Pray. It seems trivial but it’s such a blessing.
- Express your feelings in healthy ways such as through art, journaling, singing, talking, physical activity such as working out, or even just running.
- Dig deep into why you’re feeling the way you are. Maybe there are underlying emotions that are behind the one you’re prominently showing. Where are your feelings coming from? How are they all intertwined?
- Give yourself time. I personally don’t believe that time heals all wounds, but it certainly helps. You can’t fix everything in a day, a month, or years. Things will get better, but it takes time and patience.
- Validate your feelings. If you’re feeling a certain way, there’s a reason why. Don’t cover it up. Don’t let others tell you how you should feel. Listen to yourself. Understand that only you can know how you feel.
- Listen to what others have to say. Even if it’s someone you don’t know, surround yourself with truth and with things you need to hear on a daily basis. Follow accounts that are founded in truth while also acknowledging the pain we all feel throughout life. Unfollow the accounts that only make you feel worse, the ones who add more pain to your wound.
- Invest yourself in God’s Word. Take your time through a certain book of the Bible. Read through the Psalms. Know that God knows and hears your pain. Know that He can heal you. Know that you have to be patient. Know that He is there, even if you don’t feel it.