Why Do Hurt People Hurt People?

Hurt people hurt people mainly because they have not dealt with their own emotional pain. They end up transferring their anger, rage, fear, frustration, guilt, and shame onto other people. Although they may have been recipients of someone else’s pain, it is not a valid excuse to hurt others.

Emotional pain is inevitable. We have all experienced it. The key to healing is to process the emotions and not get stuck. Unresolved emotions can drain our energy as well as impair our emotional growth and maturity. Unfortunately, we are not taught how to cope with our emotional pain. Emotions should not be classified as good or bad because labelling them as such makes us prone to wanting to avoid the so-called negative experiences. 

When we experience the more difficult emotions like grief, loss, and trauma, we experience emotional hurt. Pain is always trying to get our attention as to what needs to be addressed. Pain is the messenger. We can choose to ignore it, or we can tune in and pick up powerful information that will help us transform the pain.

The more we understand our emotional world, the more we can express our emotions in a healthy way. That’s why it is essential to learn how to deal with our emotions. Suppressing our hurt can have negative effects on our physical, mental, and spiritual health and happiness. Resorting to unhealthy and unproductive coping techniques may offer temporary relief, but in the long run, they may cause more harm.

Unresolved pain makes people more sensitive and protective against more pain, so they end up acting out of their pain instead of reality, almost like a defence mechanism. They are so absorbed in their own pain that they are often clueless that they are hurting others. They filter their whole life through the limited prism of their pain and often misinterpret what others may say or do. Since they see themselves as victims, they have a difficult time trusting people and maintaining relationships as they are always suspicious.

Hurt people develop a tendency to overreact, as deep down inside they do not want to get hurt again. Their fear of becoming vulnerable makes them want to maintain control, but sometimes certain words, actions, or circumstances can cause unexpected triggers to pop up.

That’s why, when someone snaps at you, remind yourself that it’s not about you. It’s about them hurting and not knowing how to deal with it. We really don’t know what’s behind people’s struggles. The very thing we need in order to heal our wounds is self-love. But when all our defences are up, it becomes difficult to let our guard down and make ourselves vulnerable again.

Self-destructive behaviours distract us from our emotional hurt. We engage in self sabotage by keeping busy, always working, or medicating ourselves with drugs, alcohol, sexual behaviour, or anything else that will help us forget the pain and escape reality. This only serves to perpetuate the vicious cycle and also alienates us from the very people we love. 

The underlying factor is that we don’t love ourselves enough or believe that we are not worthy. Holding onto the hurt will keep the pain alive, and no matter how much we try to ignore it, suppress it, or avoid it, it will backfire on us. The hurt will continue to grow and contaminate our present lives. As they say, you can run, but you can’t hide. 

The first step in resolving pain is to become aware of it and acknowledge it in order to start connecting with our emotions and confronting the inner hurt. In order to make peace with our past, we need to replace the pain with empathy, compassion, and forgiveness. 

True healing can occur when we choose to stop reacting and start taking responsibility for our feelings and actions. Letting go of pain may be challenging, but think of how much more difficult it is to hold onto trapped emotions, which will continue to cause more pain and distortions. 

Releasing the pain will restore personal freedom. Being true to our feelings will set us free. Carrying around emotional baggage from unprocessed emotions weighs us down and prevents us from moving forward.

It takes time, patience, and perseverance to embark on the healing journey, which begins with self-love and honouring our needs. Slow down, take a look inside, and seek to understand the reocurring emotional responses and behaviours. By learning to integrate our experiences, we can develop more adaptive responses and become unstuck.

When we are having difficulty with our repressed emotions, it is best to seek out guidance and support from a therapist or someone we can trust.

Keeping a journal can also assist in overcoming emotional pain by allowing us to explore our emotions on a deeper level so we can reflect, analyze and learn to make more sense of our feelings.

Practice stillness. Whether we are meditating, sitting in nature, doing breathing exercises, going for a walk in nature, or listening to relaxing music, we are allowing the emotions to come into awareness and into the present moment. Becoming more mindful of our feelings and actions helps us connect, process, and make changes, as opposed to remaining mindless and repeating the very cycle we dread.

Get out of your head and into your body. Emotions become a physical reality and are stored in our bodies. When we move intentionally, we can help release the tension and find relaxation. So get up and shake it off; dance, do yoga, go for meditative walks, do stretching exercises, make snow angels in the snow, or roll with your dog in the grass! 

 The gift of pain is being able to transform the hurt into healing. It is possible to recover from hurt as we learn to embrace pain; for without it, there would be no growth.

“Hurt people hurt people.” can become “Healed people heal people.”

Take care,

Antoinette Giacobbe M.A.