Have you had your feelings hurt recently? Are you getting the love and support you need to work through it?
Unfortunately, emotional pain isn’t often given the respect and care it deserves.
Sayings like “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” or, the aldultier version, “They can’t hurt you unless you let them” don’t help!
But oh sweet friend, I’d like to call bullshit.
Words can sting, words can cut deep and words can even stick with you for ages. If someone’s words are clinging to you, know that your pain is valid and you aren’t “choosing” that pain. No one willingly chooses heartache.
Need a little extra validation? I’ve got you. Let’s talk about why words hurt and validate those very real feelings…
You’re Hardwired to Feel Emotional Pain
Humans are social creatures. It’s what has helped us survive and thrive. You want social connections because you need them. And the pain caused by a disruption in an important social connection is absolutely real.
In fact, the hurt, loneliness and anxiety you may feel after a loved one crosses a line serves an evolutionary purpose. It’s intended to encourage you to seek out and maintain connections with others. Like calling your bestie and talking (or crying) it out. (source)
Physical Pain and Emotional Pain Aren’t So Different
Pain is pain. I know a breakup seems like it hits different than a bump to the head, but it might not be all that different to your beautiful brain.
Don’t just take my word for it! Let’s look at the science…
This study looked at people who had recently been dumped. They did brain scans while they had them look at images of their exes, requesting that they think about the rejection they’d felt (ouch). Participants also underwent a hot trial, where their arm was exposed to enough heat to cause discomfort. Low and behold, their physical pain activated the exact same parts of the brain as their emotional pain. Words aren’t looking so different from sticks and stones anymore, now are they?
Studies have also linked social pain caused by loss or exclusion to the physical pain centers of the brain. (source)
If words have hurt you, your pain is real and your feelings are valid.
When you perceive the pain caused by someone’s hurtful words as intentional that hurts so much more. And yea, that may seem obvious, but the word perceive here is the most important part. Of course it hurts more when someone you love intentionally hurts you. But even when it wasn’t intentional, if it seems that way to you, well the hurt is going to hurt that much worse. (source)
When it comes to text messages and social media comments, tone is completely lacking. So incorrectly perceived intention is even more possible! Who hasn’t spent more time than they’re proud to say overthinking a text? It can’t just be me!
And when someone you love causes you deliberate (or perceived to be deliberate) emotional pain, ooof… that can be TOUGH to work through.
It’s OK To Need Support When Words Hurt
Society has a very unfortunate view on emotional pain. Often there’s little empathy or patience for it. And that can make navigating an emotional blow all the more difficult. But, while sticks and stones may break your bones, words can definitely hurt you. And that’s ok! That’s completely normal and, contrary to the typical narrative, a universal human experience.
It’s ok to need social support to work through emotional blows. You are allowed to lean on shoulders when words hurt. Confide in your friends and family, talk to your therapist and take care of you. Your pain is valid and you don’t need to simply “walk it off.” Hurt is hurt. Take your time and do what you need to in order to heal.
What helps you work through emotional pain? Share your go-to self-care and community care tips for any who may some extra love in the comments below <3
Health and love,
Thought of the day: Your magic makes the world brighter
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