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CINERGY (tm) - Peacebuilding... one person at a time

Hurting Back

One way that some of us cope with having our feelings hurt is to retaliate and try to hurt back. It’s times like these that things come out of our mouths that we can’t take back. We may react with name-calling. We may react with accusations we know will offend the other person. We may question her or his intelligence, integrity or other values. We may voice negative assumptions about her or his motives. We might even ignore the other person or walk away as a way of causing hurt. These and other ways we attempt to hurt back usually serve to escalate the conflict.

Why do we hurt back then? There are many reasons. For instance, maybe our reactions come from being insulted and deeply hurt; maybe we have limited ability to step back from conflict to process our emotional interactions; maybe we tend to act on impulse; maybe we feel hopeless that things are not working out as we expected; maybe we are desperate and want what we want without discussion or compromise.

If you hurt someone back who hurt you, consider the following questions to see if they help examine your reaction.

  • What did the other person say or do that hurt your feelings?
  • What hurt most?
  • How do you describe the impact on you, other than being hurt?
  • How did you then react that was retaliatory and hurtful for the other person?
  • What were you wanting to achieve with that reaction?
  • What did your reaction achieve?
  • When you think now about hurting the other person’s feelings in reaction to your own hurt in the scenario discussed here, what other response might you have chosen instead?
  • What difference might it have made if you chose that response (your answer to the previous question)?
  • Going forward, if someone hurts you again, what other ways of responding in the moment might you choose (if you want to) rather than hurting back?
  • How might you ensure you choose that response?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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