How to Handle Hurt Feelings

By Laurie Newkirk

My Mother hurt my feelings so much a few weeks ago that I started yelling at her. I thought I was now past that but it seems she pushed a button of mine.

Okay… so my mother really hurt me and I acted badly, now what do I do?

Forgiving her and myself seemed like the right answer and I wanted to do that but it was going to have to wait until I figured out how to deal with the emotional pain that was pinballing around inside me! I really needed to stop the pain before I could even get to the forgiveness part (almost like having to stop the bleeding before you can focus on healing an injury.)

I decided to do research and came across a lot of good information on healing hurt feelings. Something that really resonated with me was to not let hurt feelings fester, quote: “Don’t stuff hurt feelings or, like leftovers in the back of the fridge, they will start to rot.”

I liked that a lot and it validated that I was on the right path but it didn’t quite answer the question of ‘how’ to handle the hurt.

Many sources emphasized to look at “why the person did it.” This sounded reasonable, so I took a deep breath and looked at the situation. From my mother’s perspective she did it out of caring. Realizing that did help, but it wasn’t enough to fully stop the hurt since this is an ongoing issue. No matter how often I ask her not to give me advice in a certain area she does it anyway and I feel unheard.

The next most prevalent piece of advice was to “not take it so personally.” I have to admit when I read that, I thought they were nuts! How can I not take what happened personally??? After all, it happened to me! But I guess it’s true that just because I got hurt, it doesn’t mean the hurt was intended.

I began thinking about a recent incident where my aunt’s feelings got hurt because I didn’t eat the dessert she made for a family gathering.  It had cinnamon in it and I’m allergic to cinnamon, so obviously I couldn’t eat it.  It had NOTHING to do with her or her dessert. I simply couldn’t eat it and I explained that to her and yet she was still hurt. This is truly an example of something she needed to “not take personally!”

But how was I going to move forward with my hurt and “not take it personally?” When emotional pain hits, it is very hard for me to not get caught up in it. I believe if I learn strategies for what to do when my mother hurts me, I won’t feel so overwhelmed by the pain and scared by how badly it hurts.  A broken toe hurts like crazy at first but the pain goes away and we go back to walking normally and forget about it. I guess that’s what they mean when they say, “Roll with the pain.” I will try.

I decided to use a technique from’s Blog and “look at your mother as a person.” If I looked at my mother and how she treats herself and other people, I was forced to realize that my mother has a hard time not giving everyone advice! So in that way I guess it’s not so personal.

Time has passed and I am happy to report that after following these strategies and the few additional ones below, I was able to stop hurting from the incident with my mom and I am also better able to handle getting my feelings hurt in general.

Here is a recap of the top helpful strategies I found through various sources:

Fix it right away – If you have something heavy on your heart that you can fix, do it. If you put it off, you get used to the feeling and it becomes part of who you are. The reason you are unhappy fades from the conscious level, but the sadness lingers on.

It’s not all about you – The best way to stop having your feelings hurt is by not taking things personally. You may think this sounds impossible, but it’s not as hard as you can imagine. You just have to keep reminding yourself that no matter what they say it’s not all about you.

Prevent misjudging – Don’t presume to know the other person’s intention. You may pass judgment incorrectly and make the situation worse. Ask yourself if the person’s intent was deliberate or if it’s unintentional.  Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand why he or she acted the way they did.

Stay calm – When your feelings are hurt allow time for yourself to completely cool off. Think before you speak, or you may lash out with words that you can’t retract and regret the consequences.

People will hurt you – There is nothing you can do to change that. You have the choice as to how to handle it.

Be gentle with yourself – You have been hurt. Give yourself a break. Do something nice for yourself.

Share your hurts with others – Do this selectively or you may get burned again. Everybody has secrets and hidden struggles. We can learn from each other. Even if we don’t find answers, it is comforting to know that others are trying to find answers as well.

Distract yourself – For a little while let the acuteness of the pain wear off.  Read, exercise, write, play a game. But don’t stuff the feelings.

Humor is always helpful – Not necessarily about the situation that is causing you pain but watching a funny movie, reading a funny book, finding something funny online (visit our Laugh section) can help to balance out painful feelings with some lightness.

Laurie Newkirk, in addition to being an award winning writer, is the co-founder of