Sometimes, when we’re hurting, we don’t realize that at some point, we can choose to do something else. You really can give yourself permission to be happy after you have been hurt. This isn’t always easy but I’m going to share some ways that worked for me.
There are times when, it just feels wrong to be happy when you have been hurt by someone. So you nurse your hurt because, you are so not going to let them off the hook! Because if you let yourself feel better, then how will they know how badly they behaved? In a way, by feeling okay, it can feel like you are saying, “you didn’t hurt me.”
I was recently in this position of being hurt and after a few days of stewing, I realized that I was only hurting myself. Yes, maybe I was letting the other person know that they had upset me or hurt me but there was a cost. And the cost was that I felt bad!
The strange thing I realized was that even though I knew it was going to be okay, I still wanted to be miserable! I was clinging so tightly to the dream of what I had hoped, that I wasn’t willing to get out of my own way, and go with this change of direction.
I wanted to put all the blame on the other person for somehow messing up my life. Even though there was a part of my mind that knew I was going to be okay, I was keeping the “this sucks!” track in my head on repeat.
One morning I woke up and my first thought was,
I knew that my life was unfolding exactly as it was supposed to. The “dream” was just the mechanism to move me from where I had been to where I am. It got me excited. And it moved me to a place I never had even imagined I would be.
But I was upset with another person for ruining the original dream. In keeping us both miserable and in trying to hold onto something that just didn’t need to be held onto, I was putting off my own happiness.
As soon as I let go of how I thought things were going to be and accepted how things were going to be, a shift occurred. When the shift happened, some space opened up to see how this might actually be better for me.
My point is, that even when we feel we’re in the right and that somehow we’ve been wronged, it’s a good idea to look at the big picture. If we’re just holding on to some anger or hurt because we don’t want to let the other person off the hook, then we are not doing ourselves any favors. At that point we are holding ourselves back from what could be something even better.
And so I let go of all the things I thought were going to be. I redirected my mind to be open to the good in that situation and to truly make the best of it. Instead of trying to show how hurt I was, I decided to accept this situation and resolve it as a friend would.
Here’s my final thoughts on this. It was a decision to feel better. That did not mean I magically felt better though. I still felt sad even while making my choice to move forward with what needed to happen. There was no bypassing the feeling part of this. Sometimes, things really hurt and it’s OKAY to feel that. But the sooner you can gently move in the direction of acceptance and finding the good in a situation, the sooner you can begin to reap the benefits.
Here are the steps I took that helped me move through this difficult experience.
Accept the situation
Accepting what has happened is essential in getting past it. Denial is one of the steps in the grieving process. Sometimes is truly is difficult to accept what has happened. We might ask a lot of “whys” and “what ifs.” Keep the goal of acceptance in your mind though. I had to remind myself often, this is what is happening, accept it.
Feel your feelings but don’t seek revenge
Anger and sadness do not feel particularly good. These kinds of feelings can hurt, almost like a physical hurt. I think one of the reasons we act out or try to hurt someone back is that we, in a primitive way, think it will help with our own pain. It does. For about ten seconds—if that. Trying to get even or hurting someone else does not help us feel better.
Find an anchor prayer or phrase
I wrote a prayer asking for help in resolving our conflict. I wrote it out on paper and read it aloud. When I was tempted to be quarrelsome, I reminded myself that I had asked for the conflict to be resolved and I had to honor that as well!
Write your own prayer or borrow one. Here are a few examples of some well known ones.
The Serenity Prayer authored by Reinhld Niebuhr
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
From Friedrich Nietzsche
That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
Process your feelings but also take breaks
I will admit, I drank some wine that week. However, I also exercised and wrote in my journal quite a bit. I spent time with supportive friends. Another thing I did was start going to movies. I hadn’t been much of a movie goer for the past few years but going to a theater and watching a real movie was a big help. These kinds of things can get your attention off your unhappiness and that break is so beneficial.
Look for the blessings, silver linings, and lessons
This is the most important step. Open your eyes to the good in the situation. When you keep your focus on what’s wrong and why you don’t like it, it makes it difficult to get past the hurt. I kept telling myself that something even better was coming along. My mind can be quite perverse in wanting to hang on to a hurt. But I know it’s not good for me. My good comes when I can appreciate all the good I already have and all the good coming my way.
In addition to looking at the situation in a new way, look for what you’ve learned from it. Use your experience to grow and become a wiser, more compassionate person.
Why you need to give yourself permission to be happy
They say, time heals all wounds. Well, we all know people that hold onto wounds for a really long time. Time doesn’t always just make an injury go away. If you keep picking at something—it’s not going to get better. Make time your friend in this! Following these steps will shorten the time you spend being hurt or angry and allow you to go forward in your best life.
Keep on growing my friends!
If forgiveness is an issue be sure and check out this post.
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I'm a former counselor, career services leader, and college advisor. Now I coach and write at My Think Big Life promoting health and personal growth.