By: Marilyn L. Davis
‘That Hurt My Feelings’
How many times have you heard someone say or said that your feelings were hurt? Probably anytime you felt criticized, rejected or thought that people were disapproving. For years, we’ve stated that ‘our feelings are hurt’ when people say unkind things about us, or to us. We firmly believe that we should just acknowledge that our feelings were hurt in the experience. Alternatively, if slighted, in any way, we should alert people about our hurt feelings.
As of this day, consider dropping that line of thinking and that phrase, because you can’t pinpoint which feeling got hurt in the exchange. Let’s make this simple. There are five general categories of feelings:
You Can’t Hurt Mad, Sad, Glad, Bad, or Scared
Therefore, if someone says something offensive, unkind, rude, or disrespectful to me or about me, and feelings are hurt, I should logically be able to state, without reservation, which of those five feelings was hurt. However, the reality is that no one can define which of the five feelings categories were hurt, because feelings, by themselves cannot be hurt.
Working with families through the years, I see many men that do not think about feelings. It is not a question of not having them; however, many men, conditioned from childhood, do not relate to experiences from a feeling perspective, therefore, they are perplexed and baffled when some woman tells them that he hurt her feelings.
Hurt feelings just make no sense to some men, and I cannot fault their logic on this one. Without stereotyping men, can you see how it would be difficult to understand an accusation of hurt feelings; how this would not even make sense to them.
So what is hurt in these exchanges?
Enter the Ego: When is the Ego Hurt?
It is not feelings that are hurt, but ego. Ego is, for general purposes, a sense of how you view yourself. That includes:
Therefore, the next time you feel tempted to tell someone who ‘hurt your feelings’, decide what aspect of your ego got bruised and then talk about that.
Egos tend to be hurt when it is:
- Laughed at and not telling a joke
- Not selected for a job, given a good grade, not picked for the team
- Undervalued, under-appreciated, under-rated
Umpteenth Life Lesson
I watched a mother at a soccer game the other day. She had taken the time to make homemade cupcakes and decorated them mimicking soccer balls nestled in “grass”. She was sitting next to us in the stands and made mention of how long it had taken her to make the decorations, how much it had cost her for the ingredients, and more than once talked about how it was so much more than the typical juice and store-bought snacks that other mothers bring.
I thought to myself that this woman was responsible for the letdown I expected her to feel when the seven-year-old boys simply tore into them without a thought to her ego.
I knew without a doubt that a simple, “Thank you” would not be enough; her feelings were going to be hurt.
I remained in the stands when she asked me to watch her belongings; both to be helpful, however, it was as much about confirming my assumption about her being disappointed with the reaction of the boys. Sure enough, she returned to the stands to retrieve her personal belongings and said to me, “Those kids hurt my feelings. I spent so much time making their cupcakes, and they did not appreciate my efforts.”
I refrained from telling her that it was her ego. I have learned over the years not to do counseling with someone who has not hired me for this purpose, however, it did help me remember how many people mistake hurt feelings, for a bruised ego.
Personal Life Lesson
When I was in therapy, I learned that I needed to take responsibility for my feelings by saying, “I feel ___”, and then define my feeling, or claim, “When you did or didn’t do, I felt ___”, and then name the feeling, not “You made me feel.”
Therefore, I will publish this article, hoping that someone likes it; does not criticize it too much, leaves glowing comments or at least a helpful critique on how to improve it while trying to remember not to get my feelings, oh sorry, my ego hurt.
Humor me in your comments. Do you ever say, “That hurt my feelings”?
- Yes, and I see where it is not a logical statement.
- No, I don’t discuss my feelings.
- No, it sounds wimpy.
- Yes, and people should understand exactly what I mean.
Writing, and recovery heals the heart.
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