The Emotional Intelligence of Feeling Hurt

ByCindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C.

The Emotional Intelligence of Feeling Hurt

When you feel emotionally hurt, your intuitive self is trying to make you aware of the source of your pain, so that you can heal it. If you don’t investigate (a.k.a. dig deeper) into the source of the hurt, you will most likely slip into a cycle of self-pity and go around feeling sorry for yourself. Remember, feelings are guideposts. They contain intelligence. Something within you is trying to get your attention so that you can learn from the experience, grow, heal, and move on as a stronger, more self-mastered person. When you feel hurt, it’s an indication that something under the surface has been awakened (triggered) and needs your attention.

What happened to, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? Why do the words and actions of others “hurt” you? The quick answer is, you’ve probably been hurt in the past and didn’t deal with it (process it and heal from it). A lot of hurts happened when we were children and didn’t have the knowledge, power or environment to process incidents that truly hurt us. And, if those hurts weren’t processed and released, guess where they continue to reside… inside! As adults, when we are “wronged” by others, it hits on those old wounds and brings them right back to the surface. Or, at a minimum, the body throws off a smoke alarm and puts us in high alert. If we don’t take time to investigate why we have such strong hurt feelings as a result of the actions of someone else, the old wound will go back underground, and we’ll either repress the new hurt feelings (add them to the pile) or our ego will take over and give us a slew of reasons to feel sorry for ourselves. In any case, the original pain remains because we are still not dealing with it. Let’s look at an example…

I recently felt hurt when someone in my family told me that another family member was talking negatively about me. I felt hurt because I thought the family member that was talking about me had a better opinion of me. Have you heard the saying, “What other people think about me is none of my business?” Well, that’s true. But, I felt hurt nonetheless. After sitting with the hurt feelings for a bit, I realized that this feeling felt familiar. I remember feeling this same kind of feeling when I was growing up, a feeling like I wasn’t loved or appreciated. To add to it, there was also a feeling of abandonment, like someone I should be able to trust, just betrayed me. Let me just say here that if you are feeling betrayed, abandoned, powerless, helpless, inadequate, or unworthy, it’s a definitive sign that the feeling you are feeling today stems from something that happened to you in childhood. Really look at those feelings. They are not feelings that a confident, emotionally mature, psychologically balanced adult would have. Those are thoughts and feelings that a helpless child would have who’s having a tough time making sense of the crazy stuff that’s going on around him or her. Children always make things about them. It’s how they protect themselves. They are not going to question the actions of the adults around them. That’s just not safe to do.

In summary, if you are feeling hurt, some legitimate emotional wound from the past is most likely being triggered. Take some time to sit with the hurt and ask yourself, “What does this feeling remind me of?” It may be a painful investigation, but it’ll be in your best interest in the long-run. The hurt is inside regardless. Isn’t it time to bring it to light and release it?

Next week, we’ll look at the emotional intelligence of the feeling of Sadness.

This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC.  We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives.  For more information, please go to

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About the author

Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. administrator

As a Certified Spiritual Life Coach, I specialize in emotional and social intelligence coaching for business leaders and key managers to increase effectiveness and overall satisfaction in both business and personal arenas. I provide one-on-one coaching in person or over the phone.