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How to Tell Someone They Hurt You without Hurting Them in Return

Sometimes people hurt you without knowing, but does that mean you just let it slide? Instead, learn how to tell someone they hurt you.

We’re all human. And we’re all susceptible to saying and doing things with the potential to hurt others. Now, there are some people who consciously hurt those for their own personal gain. In that case, they know exactly what they’re doing and how it makes you feel. But if someone does something to you that unknowingly hurts you, well, this is now in your hands. It’s your responsibility to learn how to tell someone they hurt you. [Read: How to stop selfish people and stop them from hurting you]

How to tell someone they hurt you

You can’t expect other people to read your mind. Even if they’re aware of what they’re doing, it’s important for you to sit them down and have them understand you know exactly what they’re doing and why. Is this going to be easy? Of course not.

In fact, it’s probably going to be really uncomfortable for you. It’s something you must do if you want to protect yourself from getting hurt. You need to let that person know how you feel.

#1 Look at the offense for what it is. This is where you need to sit down with yourself and think about their actions. Are they intentionally trying to hurt you? Or do you think their actions are unintentional? Whatever your gut is telling you, follow it. By knowing where their actions are coming from then you’ll be able to properly respond to them. [Read: 16 silly bad habits that can ruin your relationship]

#2 Don’t become defensive. It’s normal for us to become defensive but that’s not what you’re going to do. You need to confront the issue by only stating your point of view and not pointing fingers or assuming why they behave like this.

Stick strictly to how their actions make you feel, and allow them the opportunity to explain themselves. That’s the only way you’ll be able to come to some agreement or understanding.

#3 You don’t need to be right. It depends on the situation, and you may be harboring feelings from past situations which involved them.

By the time you confront them, there’s probably a lot of anger and resentment built up inside of you. However, you don’t need to be right in your conversation with them. And in many ways, you may have contributed to the situation as well. This is something you’re going to have to understand. [Read: How to confront someone when you loathe uncomfortable interaction]

#4 Apologize if you’ve done something wrong. If you want to truly come to closure and make amends then you’re going to need to accept the part you played in the entire ordeal. You may have done some things to “pay them back” for the way they treated you, but this doesn’t mean what you did was right. Instead, own up to your mistakes and actions as well. 

#5 Use non-aggressive words. If you’re wondering how to tell someone they hurt you, and explain to them how they made you feel, attacking them with aggressive words isn’t going to solve anything. You need to approach the situation using words which are calming and honest. You’re not there to cause more drama, you want to resolve it. Focus on talking specifically from your point of view and explain how you feel and why. [Read: How to fight fair in a relationship and grow closer]

#6 Be prepared for anything. You may be talking calmly and respectfully but you really have no idea how they’re going to react. They may also react calmly or they could be very defensive and accusatory. So, you’re going to need to be prepared for everything that may be thrown your way. What you need to do is make sure you stay calm.

#7 Focus on “I feel” statements. Yes, this sounds a little elementary school but let me tell you something, kids are learning this for a reason. When you’re talking about your feelings with someone, you need to make sure that you focus your words around your feelings. Instead of pointing the finger at them saying how they made you feel, use “I feel” statements which aren’t accusatory.

#8 Be specific. The other person may not understand why or how they hurt you, but this is when you need to show them specific examples. In addition, it’ll help keep the conversation on track, which is extremely important when discussing your feelings. It’s very easy for people to veer off the topic. [Read: 10 communication techniques you need to adopt]

#9 Know why you want to talk to them. Why do you want to talk to them about how they make you feel? What are you hoping to get out of the conversation? If you just want to argue, then it’s not the time to sit down and talk to them. Only talk to them if you want to resolve the situation.

#10 Set your boundaries. You sat down and talked about how they make you feel and now, you’re feeling pretty good about the situation. Though now they’re aware of your feelings, that doesn’t necessarily mean things will change.

This is why you need to set your own personal boundaries with this person. Know your limits with them, how much you’ll confide in them, and when/how you wish to communicate with them. [Read: How to set boundaries in a relationship – 15 rules for healthy love]

#11 You may not be the source of their anger. When people hurt us, we assume they’re doing so because we’re the source of their anger. However, that’s not always the case.

Understand that you may simply be a trigger for their actions, and its actually nothing to do with you as a person. Don’t take on the guilt from them and only accept responsibility for your own actions. [Read: How to master positive self-talk and banish negativity]

#12 They don’t have to take away your personal happiness. Yes, they hurt you, but you’re the one in charge of your own reactions and attitude. Whatever they did to you, though it takes time, you are able to move on. If they act unintentionally, you should ask yourself why you’re holding onto these feelings. If it was intentional and they apologized, why are you still in pain?

[Read: How to stand up for yourself and get what you want and deserve]

It’s not always easy to know how to tell someone they hurt you, but it’s something you must express. When you’re ready, use one of these tips to help you out.

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