You have probably figured out that I’m a writer. The fact that I blog every day and am currently writing a book gives that away. What you might not know about me is the extent to which I’ve been hurt. I’ve been stabbed in the back by friends, forgotten, ignored, put down, insulted. If you asked me to identify five moments in my life that caused me an unbelievable emotional pain, I could rattle them off without batting an eyelid.
My guess is that you could too. You can probably remember moments that kicked the life out of you. It’s likely that thinking of some of these moments, even if they happened some time ago, still brings a fresh surge of anger, hurt, and shame. One of the mysteries about humanity is that we remember hurts much better than we remember successes or moments of joy. This is one of the reasons that the pursuit of happiness is a disciplined, intentional, and difficult journey.
The good news is, happiness is possible. It’s not immediate, it’s not permanent, and it’s not easy. One of the most important steps in the journey to happiness is letting go of resentment, hurt, and anger from the past. If you’re a person who internalizes your emotions a lot (like yours truly), chances are that you carry a lot of rage that you’ve never expressed.
- Writing helps externalize internal emotion
One of the best ways I’ve learned to deal with past hurt is simply writing. Writing out your feelings can help them become concrete. Once you get your feelings on paper, you’ve expressed them. Even if it’s only a small expression, writing allows you to get your deepest feelings out. The more your emotions are allowed to escape, the more external they will become, and they less hold they will have on your insides. The more internal your emotions are, the more they will control you.
- Writing helps you define the hurt and anger you feel
When I am most angry or upset, I’ve learned to sit down and write. Taking the time to write down what I’m feeling allows me to focus, relax, and discern why I am truly angry. Sometimes it’s not clear why an event hurt you so badly. Why is it so hurtful that everyone teases you about your forgetfulness? Why was it so hurtful when your parents lied to you? Why was it so painful when your friend stopped calling? Why did your significant other ditching you for their friends make you hurt so much? Writing down the experience solidifies what it meant to you. Writing also helps you discover which words resonate the most with the way you feel. “I felt ignored… no, that’s not quite it… I felt ditched? Well, not exactly. I felt insignificant… yes, that’s part of it! I felt insignificant and… oh, forgotten!” The more we can understand our emotions, the more power we will have over them.
- Writing helps us solidify how we need to talk to the people who have hurt us
It’s not easy to talk to someone who has hurt you. Often, when I talk to someone who has hurt me, if I don’t have a game plan for what I’m going to say, my emotions get the best of me. My goal becomes returning the hurt that I experienced, making sure they hurt as much as I did. That’s a completely ineffective way to talk to another person, because hurt only leads to more hurt. Fortunately, the more we write down how we feel, the more we can understand why we feel the way we do. Understanding our hurt allows us to get to the core of what we want to say to the people who have hurt us. It helps us define what we felt, why we felt that way, and how we would like them to empathize with us and move to fix it. When I write before talking to someone who has hurt me, the results are usually much, much better.
I hope this convinces you. If you’re hurt and angry, try writing. If you need to talk, post a comment.