Why Our Feelings Cannot Be Hurt Without Our Permission

No one can hurt our feelings unless we allow them to. No one is responsible for our feelings except for ourselves. When our feelings are hurt, it is because we have perceived the words or actions of another to be an attack on our identity or a reflection of a painful belief. In reality, our true identity can never be attacked, and our painful beliefs are self-inflicted. The words someone says or the actions they take cannot change who we are. Thus, their perceived offense and our consequent hurt feelings are solely our own responsibility.

Let's say that someone calls us fat.

If we are secure in our body image and realize that the words/opinions of others do not change who we are, this slight would not offend us. We would emerge with our feelings unscathed, and all would be well.

If we have a negative body image, and a deep underlying fear of being fat or being perceived as being fat, then these words are taken to heart and we allow our feelings to be hurt. This occurs because the words reflect something we already believe and it triggers the pain associated with our self-made belief.

On the flip side, if we identify as being skinny (or physically fit), then we unconsciously take these words to be an attack on our identity. This will result in becoming offended, and being defensive as we try to discount the words so they won't harm how we've established ourselves to be perceived.

In any case, our feelings cannot be hurt unless we give permission for them to hurt us. In order for our feelings to be hurt, we have to take the words/actions of others and interpret them to be either A.) an attack on our identity or B.) a reflection of something we already believe about ourselves that is associated with pain. We make that choice, albeit often unconsciously. Yet, we blame the issuing party for the offense and hurt feelings. We skip over our own responsibility for the way we feel, and immediately condemn the other individual. We take the role of the victim and project the blame outward so we don't have to look within and take accountability for the way that we feel.

Even if a person is yelling obscenities at us, we have a choice in how this will affect our feelings. We can react to their negative behavior (which is based in fear) with negative behavior of our own (other fear based reactions like anger, sadness, hurt, etc.), or we can realize that the individual's words are a reflection of themselves and not of us and that ultimately the words and actions of others cannot harm us mentally/emotionally unless we allow them. This, of course, goes hand-in-hand with taking things personally.

It is difficult to override the automatic knee-jerk reaction of becoming offended. It is hard to prevent the words/actions of others from triggering an immediate hurt response. It is easier, however, to recognize when we are feeling offended and hurt and then decide to make another choice. We can pause to evaluate why we are really feeling this way, realize we are the ones assigning the meaning to this, and then consciously decide to look at it another way. When we decide to change the way we look at it, we also change the way we feel about it. We take back the power we initially placed in the hands of another, and use that power to change our perception. Often when we change our perception, we see the change reflected in our lives.


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