Dealing with hurtful words

It’s not often people come out and abuse me or say things that express their disgust towards me.

Yet, not being used to it might mean I’m more vulnerable for when they do come.

Like and unexpected attach from behind- a sudden stab of pain as you turn in disbelief to see who has inflicted such a wound.

I’m still recovery from a couple of such verbal pummellings. The initial shock and sting have subsided, but the dull ache persists.

A little understanding, and a better process of communication would have alleviated the situation. Yet, separated by a screen and facing a necessary but unpleasant topic, the recipe for a sour, biting remark or two was there.

Of course, you can tell yourself that they don’t really know you. But it hardly matters who hits you- a stranger or your best friend, the impact still hurts the same.

It may be easier to let go if you don’t have to see the person again, but words intended to harm do damage, no matter who delivers them or how they come.


So how do we come to terms with such hurts?

1. Learn from the pain

Much like fire burning the skin, harsh words are going to burn. But that doesn’t mean we should keep our hand in the fire! The pain tells us to move away, to protect ourselves and to seek a cooling salve to begin the healing process. 

Later, we can reflect on the situation and asked what might have provoked the verbal attack. Is there anything we can do to protect ourselves next time? Is this a person I should avoid, or someone I need to have a calm conversation with?

2. Seek to repair the relationship if safe to do so

No one is perfect and it’s part of being human to hurt each other- intentionally and unintentionally. But this doesn’t mean that the hurts need to divide us. Just like a broken arm, with time and attention, healing can occur and if it does, the relationship may end up being stronger than when it was before.

Tell the person what their words made you feel, using language such as, “I felt ____ when you said, _____, because _____.” Commit to working through the problem. This may take great care and sensitivity, but the solution is likely to happen with more communication, not less. Of course, at least 50% of communication requires listening.

3. Recognise that healing will be imperfect

Just as our relationships with others will undoubtedly be messy and full of mistakes, we shouldn’t expect the healing of hurts to be easy or complete. There will be scars and we will need to absorb the impact of the words that beat up against us. We can learn to do this better though, if we commit to the process.

The Christian’s hope is that Jesus offers healing from our deepest wounds. Reading the gospels found in the Bible shows that his mission on earth involved healing people and bringing them to a place of wholeness. 

The good news is that Jesus is alive in heaven today and is able to communicate with us through the Holy Spirit. As such, his healing is available to us as well. You can ask him now to take away the pain and bring to him even the deepest of our needs and replace them with peace and joy. 

- Barbara Westerman

Find out more about this here, or speak to one of our pastors here