Am I Emotionally Hurt, or Just Too Sensitive?

Does emotional hurt really exist? What is the difference between emotional hurt and taking something personally? What can we do about emotional hurt? Can we prevent it?

Full Transcript of the video:

Hello, my name is Nazım Kılıç, I'm a clinical psychologist and the CEO and founder of Zensitively. I'm an expert on highly sensitive people, high sensitivity in general, and consciousness development and mindfulness-based therapy approaches, and my main work is based on work on emotions. And in these short videos, I would like to answer some common and very important questions regarding emotions. And the answers will not always be from a psychological perspective, as I'm also a philosopher and much of the methods that I use are based on sociology as well. So the question today is: is there such a thing as emotional hurt?

We all hear about people who say "what you did hurt me", "this was hurtful", "this is hurting my feelings". We also know people saying "don't take it too personally", "why are you so sensitive?", "Why do you get so easily hurt?", or "no I didn't hurt you". So what is actually correct? Is there such a thing as emotional hurt? Because some people also claim that there is no emotional hurt and it's all in our minds and that we make it subjectively out of our psychology. And that if we get enlightened or achieve spiritual transformation and whatnot that we will not be hurt anymore and nothing could hurt us (which is of course a very enticing fantasy). So to get into the subject of emotional hurt, we have to differentiate between two different processes: the first one is emotional hurt - and we will talk about that first -, the second one is taking something personally. And these two, although they appear to be almost one and the same very frequently, especially to sensitive people, but in general they couldn't be further apart and they actually need completely different treatment, which is why this video is so important: because you need to go about these two phenomena in a completely different way.

And we will get to the why and how. So let's start with emotional hurt: Emotional hurt is something objective, just like physical hurt. This means that if somebody takes a gun, points it at me, and shoots, and the bullet penetrates my skin and enters my heart and I start bleeding; it doesn't matter if I accept it or not, if I believe in karma or not. Whatever it is that goes on in my psychology I'm still shot and I'm still bleeding. It's a fact if you will. It's objective reality.

And the same thing is true for emotional hurt: it's an objective occurrence, although it is not so easily identifiable as a bullet entering me because it's not happening on an obvious material level, it's happening on the level of emotions, which is not so easy to verify objectively - it's still happening. And the difficult part about it is that an emotional hurt requires intent.

The person who is doing the hurting (who's hurting the other), needs to have an intent of hurting the other person, of harming the other person: of aggression, or violence, or even hatred - which might sound very uncommon except for some hate crimes happening but it's actually an everyday phenomenon. People get angry and they become - in a very microscopic way maybe, if you're not aware and if you're not very keenly observing - they become really filled with hatred, maybe even only for a second or two, and they let it out in an act of violence that could appear to be very innocent or passive-aggressive at most, as a side remark or anything. But it is violence and it is hurting objectively. Let's say two people are playing a video game together and one of them is very ambitious and wants to win and they're playing together and they're playing online. And so the other person does a mistake and the first one gets angry at his partner. So he's starting to say, he's starting to release his anger by saying something that is putting pressure and is being aggressive towards the other. This is objective hurt, and depending on the sensitivity of the other they will get hurt by that. There's nothing they can do about that just as being hurt by a bullet.

I know this might not be easy to digest or you might not be happy to hear this because you want me to say "well, buy this book, or read this article, or sign up for this newsletter, and then you will not be hurt anymore." I know many people make a lot of money doing exactly that, but it's not the truth. It's just a big business - that's all. It's not the truth. Hurt is something objective and it's very important you realize this, very very important because what you need to do when you're hurt is to give yourself compassion. In order to give yourself compassion, you need to accept the fact that you're hurt. If you think you could have avoided it, or you're creating it in your mind and you just didn't find enlightenment yet and whatnot, then you will never give yourself compassion because you're in denial and you're going against yourself.

 Just like a person lying there with a shot wound and saying "oh my God, I shouldn't have gone to this church where a massacre happened." - which is a terrible event that you could have never foreseen. So we need to stop treating ourselves in this way.

Now, this is emotional hurt. So does it mean that every time I feel insulted or hurt, there is objective hurt? No - and this is also important: many, many people - especially highly sensitive people and sensitive people in general - confuse taking things personally with hurt.

So let's get into what taking something personally means. Taking something personally means that I put myself in the center of a situation and although what is being said is not targeted at me and is not meant to hurt me, I am taking the bullet so to speak, or fantasizing about taking the bullet because I blow myself up in my imagination to be so large that basically everything is a bullet for me - and comedians, by the way, rightfully complain about this: that everybody gets insulted by their jokes. If some community gets insulted by jokes of the other community and so forth - but they are not targeting anyone. They are not coming from anger, and they're right: they are not hurting anybody's feelings. People are taking it personally. The difference is that it's happening only because, in your ego and the egocentric view of ourselves, we are so large and so important, that everything should revolve around us - and if it doesn't, we feel as though we are hurt although we are not.

An example I can give is that let's say your mother invited you to their home, and you're going and on the way, you ate something so you're full. So you're arriving and your mother is saying "I prepared this amazing dinner for you, let's eat", and you're saying "Oh. I'm very sorry, but I'm full", and they say that they're hurt because they prepared this amazing food and now you're not eating and it hurt them. Well, it didn't hurt them. You didn't hurt them because you had no intention of hurting them and this is why there was no objective hurt happening. What's going on is that they're taking it personally. They're putting their preparation of the food and your reaction to it as the center of their experience and this is why they feel as though they are hurt, whereas in fact there is no hurt going on. So this is very important to differentiate but I admit that it's not easy to differentiate.

What I'm saying is that the difference is on the level of intent of the person from whom the alleged hurt is coming from and it's not easy obviously to know what the intent of the other is. One of the things that makes it more difficult is that we usually - when we take something personally - we imply and we project onto the other that they had the worst motives that they wanted to hurt us and this was their wish. For example a couple. One of them commits adultery and we confront them and say "Oh my God, how could you do this to me? You hurt me very much" - and most people would agree. But actually what they did was not hurting because most of the people who commit adultery don't do it to hurt their partners but they do it because they can't say no, or they want to have the pleasure, they can think they can have both, and all the rest of it - so they're egotistical or egocentric but they're not aggressive during that moment. So it's a matter of taking it personally.

It is possible to differentiate if you learn how to look for the intent of the other person, so you could know if what happened was actually objectively hurt or it was just something you took personally. If you flip this around, by the way, it's also very interesting because most people feel guilty - especially highly sensitive people (this is for you) - most people will feel very guilty if somebody tells them that they hurt them - and they won't even check if they hurt them. If you do something but there's no intent in you to hurt the other person, no matter what happens, even if they tell you the worst things and what you did to them - what you did was not hurting them. You can have compassion with them and it's very advisable to have compassion with someone who feels bad.

But you shouldn't feel guilty about something that you didn't do in order to inflict pain on the other. You shouldn't feel guilty in any way no matter what happens but guilt is another subject for another time and another video.

What's important for you is to see, to check for yourself each time if you're confronted with the idea that you might have hurt someone. If what was alive in you during that moment - and be really honest and authentic with yourself - if you came from a point of being angry or aggressive, or even hatred, and trying to do something destructive to the other. If yes, admit that you hurt them, ask for forgiveness, and usually if you're so open and you're so honest (and if the person is actually loving you or open to you) they will forgive you and it will heal - no problem. But if you did not come from a point of wish to hurt but it was just that they took it personally, then there's nothing you should apologize for and you should actually draw a boundary and be neutral towards this person so they could learn to get out of what they're taking personally - because this is what they need.

Here we come already to how to go differently about each of them in relation to someone else. If someone is hurt because he really got hurt, you give them compassion, you give them a hug, you shower them with love, and this helps them to heal the hurt. You do it the same way with yourself. But if someone is taking something personally (and this someone could be you), you draw a very firm boundary. There is no compassion whatsoever during that moment What needs to be alive first of all is the firm boundary of saying "no". This is because taking something personally feeds on the imaginary, it feeds on dragging you in, it feeds on feelings of guilt, and it creates a giant mess out of it that you can't get out of. The only way to get out of it is by putting very firm boundaries.

So what can we do about being emotionally hurt? Nothing. You can't do anything about being emotionally hurt. Depending on how sensitive you are, you will get hurt a lot or less. This is a trait, this is innate. You can't do anything about that but what you can do is to learn how to deal with emotional hurt - and here I see much room for improvement with many, many people because most people when they get emotionally hurt, they either deny that they got hurt, they blame themselves, or they attack the other person to make sure they won't get hurt again. None of these three approaches that are so common are actually helpful in dealing with your wound. You have a wound and you need to give yourself first aid. So what you need to do when you got hurt is

  1. Verify that you really got hurt and that you didn't just take something personally (so it was something objective happening).
  2. Admit to yourself fully that you got hurt and it has got nothing to do with you and you could have done nothing about that.
  3. Give yourself compassion and a hug - not to fall into self-pity - but give yourself compassion and say that you're sorry that this happened and you're with you and you give yourself your full support. This will be the process of recovery. The last step is to not feed it with too much attention. You give it some love, you give it some warmth, and then you leave it alone to heal. You don't fiddle around with it, you don't fall into self-pity, you don't fantasize about how evil the other person is because they hurt you and so forth. You deal with it and then you let go of it and this way it heals.

How to deal with taking something personally and what can we do about that? Well, if it's you that's taking something personally: the most important thing, first of all - well 1. You need to check if it's really that you take something personally or if it's an objective hurt that's happening and you need to be really, really honest with yourself and be able to see it, which is so difficult sometimes. Not because you don't know what's going on with the other person but because we tend to lie to each other to deceive ourselves. So this kind of thing is best done in a work, in a dialogue with a professional. But there are few people actually who can systematically do it, who have enough consciousness and know the dialogue techniques to do it.

But if you can find someone then by all means go this route and this way you will also learn how to be really neutral and objective to yourself - and this is what we are teaching and offering at our institute also. But let's say you're alone and you somehow, you know, you're in this situation right now and you want to do it by yourself. Well, you have to be completely neutral to yourself, meaning that: imagine you're standing behind yourself, behind your back, and observing yourself as though you're a stranger. Now look at what is going on in the person, look at the situation from this perspective, and report: ask this "person" (you) to report to you (the observer) what really went on. And if you find out what really went on and you discover what you took personally, you will be immediately released. This is called the "detective analysis" method and it was developed by Gabriel Raam, who is an Israeli philosopher and basically the father of the method we are working with.

This is a highly effective method and it is possible to do it by yourself, although it is extremely difficult. It's also an excellent method for couples, by the way, to discover what really happened between them. Because the moment you find the cause, you immediately get released from it. It's like a miracle and it falls off of you and you're completely free. You're completely out of it. It's like you're waking up from a nightmare. So finding out the cause of what caused you to take something personally is one way. The other way is to do the full admission of "Okay, I admit I took something personally", and then use guided imagery exercises to get rid of the situation, of this state that you're in. You can alter your states and affect your states by guided imagery exercises and they also work very well. We also teach them, but I also just will explain it to you like I explained it to anyone, so you can do it yourself at home: you imagine a heavy plate on top of your head, slowly pushing down everything that's under it, and pushing through your whole body, until, through your feet, it gets out of your system. You do this many times.

It's possible that it needs a lot of time. But if you do it with enough persistence it will get rid of the state of taking something personally. It works. But depending on how severe the situation is, it might take some time. So, to recap: emotional hurt is an objective event that you can do nothing about, that you need to give yourself warmth for, and you need to recover and heal from. It's very frequent and it's usually in smaller subtler things that we often overlook. Taking something personally disguises itself as emotional hurt, difficult to recognize, but is something completely different that is completely created by our egocentric view of ourselves and is dragging us into a hell that we can only escape from by either discovering the very thing that we took personally - and causing a reversal in ourselves that leads into us being released from it immediately - or to doing imagery exercise that will change our state and make us feel connected to ourselves again.

To differentiate between emotional hurt and taking something personally, what you will need is actually an assistance of an expert who has the consciousness and the awareness to work with you, or, if you insist on doing it with yourself, you need to be able to be very neutral to yourself and look for the intent of the person who allegedly hurt you.

This is it. I hope this video was useful to you. If it was, please feel free to comment on this video and to get in touch with us, because these videos are there to help you as a sensitive person or as a person who wishes to develop. And the more feedback we get the more encouraged I am actually, to be honest, because I'm not doing this for fun - I'm doing this to help people but also, you can write in the comments what kind of topic, what kind of questions you would like to have answered from me and I will try to deal with them. Let's have a dialogue about it and feel free to be in communication with us. Thank you very much and bye bye.

O. Nazım Kılıç MSc Psych
CEO & Founder at Zensitively, Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy (MSc)
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