The childhood saying “sticks and stones might break my bones, but words will never hurt me” simply isn’t true. Whether someone has called you an insulting name or put down your abilities, these comments can take a toll. Learn how to forget hurtful words by diminishing their power, boosting your self-esteem, and healing emotional wounds.
EditDealing with the Hurtful Words
- Don’t take it personally. Their words are about them, not you. Sometimes, when others are hurting, they may lash out at you with hurtful words. Everyone does this from time to time. It is often done without thinking, and they may even regret the words later.
- If someone says something hurtful to you, try to remember that they are probably hurting. Send compassion back to them rather than taking their comment personally.
- Validate the person who hurt you. If a person says something hurtful to you, respond gently in a way that validates the person, but not their unkind words. Whether or not the other person intended their words to be hurtful, this type of response is likely to catch them off guard, and they may be more likely to stop and think about how their words affect you.
- For example, you could say something like, “Wow, I’m really surprised to hear such a good person say something so unkind.”
- Set a timer to stew. Rather than dwelling on the hurtful words others say to you, give yourself a deadline to stew them over. Feel the hurt for a designated amount of time. Then, choose to let them go.
- For example, you might usually spend hours or even days mulling over these comments. Start setting a timer for about 10 minutes. Think about how the comment made you feel and acknowledge the pain. Once the timer sounds, put those feelings down and don’t pick them back up again.
- Write the words down, then destroy the paper. If you’re more of a hands-on person, you might take the power away from hurtful words by destroying them. Write the words down on a sheet of paper. Then, you might rip the paper to shreds, toss it into a fireplace, or scratch out the words with a pencil or pen.
- Replace it with a positive comment. Offset the impact of negative words by replacing them with your own positive words. This works because you are basically cancelling out the negative comment in your mind by following it up with a more positive, uplifting comment.
- For example, if someone said, “You’re ugly,” you might replace that comment by saying to yourself, “There is only one of me in the universe. I am special and unique.”
- Use the words to become stronger. In what way does this situation test you? Evaluate the hurtful words and see if you can channel them into productive action. Question why the words hurt you and what you can do about it.
- For instance, if someone said, “You’re weak,” and you believe that, you might feel upset or angry. However, if you take action, such as learning to defend yourself or strengthening your mental functioning, you can prevent those words from hurting you ever again.
- Use your experiences and perspective to help others. Unkind words usually come from a place of hurt or insecurity. Consider what the person who said the words might be going through, and think about whether there is anything you could do or say to help them. You can also boost your confidence by reaching out and offering support to others who have been hurt by cruel or thoughtless words.
- Make your own opinion your priority. Your confidence is always teetering on a ledge when you allow others to dictate how you feel about yourself. Stop placing so much weight on what others think about you. Instead, your own opinion should be the most important.
- For example, if someone says, “You’ll never amount to anything,” but you don’t actually believe that, remind yourself of what you think. You might say to yourself, “That’s not true. I believe I am destined for greatness.”
- Get things done to feel more confident. How you feel about yourself and your abilities is intimately linked to your self-confidence. You can boost your self-confidence by taking on more challenges. Think about a goal or task that you would like to accomplish. Then, break it down into little steps that you can complete one at a time.
- For example, if you want to become financially independent, you might start by getting a job. Then, you might look for a place to live that fits your income level. Then, you might create a savings account or invest in stock that benefits your long-term financial status.
- The steady completion of each step helps you feel more confident and increases your belief that you are capable of taking on new challenges.
- Breathe deeply and repeat an empowering mantra. Deep breathing is a great way to promote relaxation. When coupled with a positive affirmation, this exercise can help you build confidence in yourself and your abilities.
- For example, you might breathe in deeply through your nose and mentally say, “I breathe in self-confidence and faith.” Hold the breath for a few seconds. Then, exhale while mentally reciting, “I breathe out negativity and doubt.”
EditHealing from Hurtful Words
- Practice self-love daily. When you are neglecting your emotional well-being, hurtful remarks are more likely to sting. Counteract any negative comments or behaviors from others by treating yourself with loving kindness. This can translate to many different things. Make a list of the positive activities you enjoy the most. Then, make a commitment to do a few of them daily.
- For example, you might like to cook healthy meals for yourself, walk your dog near the lake, or meditate before bed.
- Learn from the experience. There is always something to be learned from a conflict or painful experience. Once you’ve had some time to move away from the initial hurt, take time to reflect on what happened. Some things to think about include:
- What might have been going on in the other person’s life, or in your relationship with them, to trigger the unkind words?
- Was there any truth in the words that you might be able to benefit from, even if they were phrased harshly or in an unhelpful way?
- If someone speaks to you this way again, how can you deal with it better in the future?
- Surround yourself with positive people. Positive people bring positive vibes and negative people bring negative vibes. Make the choice to reduce the time you spend with negative or toxic people who criticize or devalue you. Choose to spend your time with supportive people who value what you bring to the table.
- Do things you enjoy. A great way to heal from hurtful words is to engage in pleasurable activities. Pick up a hobby, join a new club or organization, or start back doing something you gave up a long time ago. Make more time in your daily and weekly schedule for things that make you smile.
- This could be pursuing a passion for learning, teaching others a skill that you are really good at, or simply improving your own knowledge of an activity like sewing or gardening.
- Give back to others. Stimulate your own emotional healing by doing more good for others. Commit to having more positive interactions with the people in your life and in your community.
- Interact with your loved ones in a positive way by expressing your appreciation for them and letting them know the good that you see in them. For instance, you might say, “Matt, you are so helpful. I don’t know what I would do without you.”
- You can also do this by engaging in random acts of kindness, like helping a neighbor with their yard work or buying lunch for the person behind you at the cafe. You might also radiate good vibes in your community by volunteering or donating to charity.
- Write in a journal to better understand how you feel. Writing down your thoughts can bring clarity to what’s happening in your inner world. Plus, when you write out hurtful comments you stop them from weighing you down. Start a journaling habit in which you write for a few minutes each day.
- You can write about the events of your day, follow an online journal prompt, or note a few things you are grateful for.