from addict 2 advocate

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

By: Marilyn L. Davis




My Feelings Are Hurt 


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. 

And we’re quick to tell people that they hurt our 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: emotions like jealousy, guilt, or envy
  5. Scared


Can Feelings Really Be Hurt? 


If it were your feelings that got hurt, then you should be able to 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

Working with families over 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. Often they seem perplexed and baffled when some woman tells them that he hurt her feelings.

Hurt feelings 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: That’s What Gets 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
  • Abilities
  • Worth
  • Importance
  • Self-image
  • Self-worth
  • Attractiveness

Therefore, the next time you feel tempted to tell someone that they 'hurt your feelings,' decide what aspect of your ego got bruised and then talk about that. Click To Tweet

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 and made mention of how long it had taken her to make the decorations, as well as how much it cost her. She bragged that they were much more than the typical juice and store-bought snacks that other mothers brought. 

I thought to myself that this woman was responsible for the letdown I expected her to feel when the seven-year-old boys 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. Yes, I was helpful; however, it was also about confirming my assumption that she would be hurt by the boys’ response – or non-response. 

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. 

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. Click To Tweet


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. 



Leave a Reply

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.