There are two kinds of hurt: hurt feelings and hurt heart. Hurt feelings occur when we take others’ behavior personally, and hurt heart occurs when people behave in unloving ways, causing us to feel core painful feelings, such as loneliness, heartbreak, grief and helplessness concerning others.
Sometimes, heart hurt stays with us forever. For me, there are certain past situations that will always cause core pain when something triggers them. I don’t have an expectation that I will reach a place where these particular situations won’t be painful for me, but that’s okay – that’s life. They don’t come up often and when they do, I embrace them with deep compassion. Of course, more recent heart hurt needs more frequent compassion.
Gilda is experiencing both hurt feelings and heart hurt:
“I’m having a real challenge with someone that ‘I allowed’ to hurt me deeply, not once but twice, who refused to apologize/take any responsibility. I acknowledge my mistakes in believing his words over his actions and the reality around me. He actively lied and manipulated to facilitate me believing things that turned out not to be true. Am having a very tough time forgiving myself, forgiving him and letting this pain and resentment go.”
One of the things that are causing Gilda to feel hurt feelings is that she has an expectation that someone who would lie and manipulate her would apologize for it. This is an unrealistic expectation, and having unrealistic expectations causes hurt feelings.
Also causing her hurt feelings is the fact that she is judging herself for ‘allowing’ this, and her self-judgment is hurting her. Instead of judging herself, she needs to have compassion for herself so that she can explore why she allowed this and learn from the situation. No learning occurs with self-judgment.
Gilda is also experiencing heart hurt. It always hurts our heart when someone betrays us with lies and manipulations. She will likely not be able to forgive herself or him until she embraces her heart hurt with deep compassion. Her resentment is her way of avoiding her heartbreak and helplessness over the situation. If she fully embraces her heart hurt with deep compassion for herself, she will be able to allow the painful feelings to move through her – for the moment. Each time they come up, she will again need to embrace them with compassion. With time, they will come up less often, but, as I stated earlier, there are some painful situations that will always hurt when they are triggered. Whether or not this is one of those situations for Gilda remains to be seen.
Even when someone apologizes for past heart hurt, the pain might continue. I’ve had clients whose parents apologized to them, and they had believed that the apology would take away the past hurt, but it didn’t. Sometimes this is because they are still treating themselves in the abusive ways their parents treated them. Other times, the pain doesn’t go away because the heartbreak and helplessness were just too great to completely heal. This doesn’t mean that we are emotionally damaged. It just means that we need to continue to be compassionate with ourselves when the pain comes up.
Hurt feelings resolve as soon as we stop taking things personally, and learn rather than judge ourselves. Heart hurt resolves for the moment when we embrace it with compassion and also learn whatever it might be telling us regarding a person or a situation. And we need to keep being compassionate toward ourselves each time the core pain comes up.
Life is sometimes very painful. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you when you currently feel the pain of it, or when pain of the past comes up. Let’s be gentle with ourselves regarding the pain of life.
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