from addict 2 advocate

No One Can Hurt Your Feelings, But They Sure Can Bruise Your Ego


By: Marilyn L. Davis


Are You Sure They Hurt Your Feelings? 

How many times have you heard someone say or said, “That hurt my feelings.”  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 acknowledge that our feelings were hurt in the experience.
Alternatively, if we feel slighted in any way, we should immediately let people know 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: 
  1. Mad
  2. Sad
  3. Glad
  4. Bad
  5. Scared

Which Feeling Got Hurt? 


If it were your feelings that got hurt, then you should be able to logically state which feeling got hurt. Unfortunately, most of us can’t name which feeling was hurt in any exchange. 

The reality is that no one can define which of the five feelings categories were hurt, because feelings, by themselves cannot be hurt. Click To Tweet

from addict 2 advocate marilyn l davis ego No One Can Hurt Your Feelings, But They Sure Can Bruise Your EgoWorking 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 seem 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: 

  • Esteem
  • Confidence
  • Image
  • Worth
  • Importance
Egos tend to be hurt when it is:
  • Criticized
  • 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. 
from addict 2 advocate marilyn l davis ego No One Can Hurt Your Feelings, But They Sure Can Bruise Your 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. Don’t they realize how much time I spent making their cupcakes? It’s like they did not appreciate my efforts.”
I refrained from telling her that it was her 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”, and what are your thoughts about it after reading this post?

  • Yes, I say it and now I see where it is not a logical statement.
  • No, I don’t say it because I don’t discuss my feelings.
  • No, I don’t say it because it sounds wimpy.
  • Yes, I say it and people should understand exactly what I mean.

 Writing, and recovery heals the heart.





When you’re ready to share your experiences in recovery, consider a guest post. 


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3 thoughts on “No One Can Hurt Your Feelings, But They Sure Can Bruise Your Ego

  1. Terrific lesson at face value. Learning to communicate effectively is an invaluable tool that takes some a lifetime to master, and some never do. However, there can be more complex contributors which make the attack harder to digest, such as the relationship between the two parties. Leverage, power, history, familial ties, abuse can all play a major role in how someone feels after an insult. It’s a whole lot easier to speak up to a stranger than someone who has the ability to retaliate, influence others, and bring back even more pain when their behavior is addressed.

    1. Thank you, Carlie for the insightful comment and observations. You are correct; those who have the ability, through subsequent comments, to further inflict additional harm, aren’t as easy to deal with as strangers are sometimes. And unfortunately, most of us are carrying baggage into those more familiar relationships.

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