Handling Hurt People who Hurt People

hurt people
Makeba Giles

Makeba Giles

Content Creator and Curator at MELISASource
Makeba Giles is an Health, Family, and Lifestyle Blogger. She is also a Midwest Mother of four, and the Founder and Creative Director of MELISASource.com. |

EMAIL: [email protected]
Makeba Giles

A few weeks ago I had a situation where an intense debate developed between myself and someone that I was working with on a project.  Although I did my best to remain calm, the other person did the opposite, completely blowing up and saying some rather harsh things to me.  I have worked on projects with this person for a few years, and so I know that they have an extremely short fuse and is known more for their temper than anything else.  However it was the first time that I had their temper aimed my way.  Needless to say, I was shocked and very hurt by the interaction—especially since it was over a matter that was so simple.  As they walked away, I stood speechless, really not knowing what to say..

This is not the first time that I have dealt with this type of behavior from others.  Because of my many life roles, I experience this quite often from all types of people.  So over the course of time I have learned ways to effectively handle people who throw anger and harsh words my way.  –That doesn’t mean that it does not sting when it happens though, and it does not mean that I never want to give them a taste of their own medicine.  It just means that I have realized that at the end of the day, I have to look at the bigger picture and do what is best not only for the situation and the relationship (business or otherwise), but also for both parties involved.

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Here are some processes that I use to handle hurt people who hurt people—you can try them too:

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 Pause, Breathe, and Stop

 I know you are heated, but it is wise not to react or respond too quickly.  The result may find you saying (or doing) some things that you will immensely regret later.  As much as you want to ‘let them have it’, it’s best to just allow them to have their moment; then afterwards pause, do some deep breathing to calm yourself, and walk away. Take the time that you need–whether it be a few minutes, hours, or days–to calm down.

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Let It Out….Later

 Definitely take a moment to get your emotions out of your system—but do not do it while in their presence.  You are just as angry as they are and you are hurt on top of that. Expressing those emotions in front of them will only lead to disastrous consequences.   It’s certainly not healthy to hold them inside, so find a time and a space to release them in a safe way.  Yell, scream, cry—do whatever you have to do to let it all out until you feel better—just not in front of them (and not to them, either!).

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Think it through

After you have gotten everything out of your system, you can begin to think the situation through in a rational way.  Ask yourself some tough (but real) questions:

  • Was the anger towards you a result of you directly or due to someone or something else unrelated?
  • .If the person lashes out like this on a regular basis (is known to hurt people) can you definitely continue to work/collaborate/be in a relationship with them?
  • .Is there a pattern—are there any key words/phrases/actions that tend to set them off? If so, are they avoidable while communicating with them? Are there alternatives that can be used instead?
  • .Is turning their behavior around something that you can help them with? Do you think that it is severe enough that they may need professional help (ex: anger management)?  If so, do you feel comfortable telling/helping them?

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Decide and Act

Finally, decide whether you feel that the subject/incident should be addressed, or would it be best if you let it go.  If you decide to address it, take time to determine what would be an acceptable resolve for you (apology, further action, etc.) and what approach would be best to get your viewpoint across while acknowledging their feelings and minimizing further tension.

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After taking some time to reflect on the situation, It occurred to me  that the explosion of anger that happened was not because of me directly, but because of some other events that had happened during the same week in which they felt slighted.  Because they could not release their anger in those moments, I was the ‘lucky recipient’.  After following the steps above, I was able to straighten everything out with them.  Everything is back on track now, and I am thankful for it.  I am also breathing a sigh of relief that I did not respond during the height of the moment—we certainly would not have experienced the continued working relationship that we have now. 🙂

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Have you ever experienced a time when you had to handle a person who is known to hurt people? How did you deal with it?  Share with me below or tell me about it at:  [email protected]

hurt people

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12 Comments

  • Guilty of it myself in the height of my illness. As my recovery continues I realize many of my current friends are acting as my behavior was described to me. There is much online about letting go of Toxic people but what if yu are that toxic persons only mirror onto their behavior? California culture especially encourages us to remove ourselves from harms way. But I question my responsibility in that since when I was ready I was surrounded by many loving and wonderful people. I am currently tolerating a friends abusive behavior because I know she is afraid. And I remember when mine was out of control I felt loving and good inside even if my actions were reflecting my injured soul. So yes many people walk away when they can but I advocate for meeting anger with love whenever possible. I know my most abusive times in life came when I was in a complete lack of love. Attack is often a form of reaching for any response negative responses feel ok to the injured because it is better than feeling like a non person

    • Greetings: I completely resonate with your response Judy. I deal with a health condition myself, and during the time when it was at its worst is when I treated those that were only trying to help me very unkind. Lucky enough for me that they knew me very well and could see through my behavior, knowing that it was a result of both my pride and my shame of needing help with simple tasks and activities. It wasn’t until I was made aware (in a very firm way) of the affect that I was having on other’s emotions that I began to realize what I had been doing. I was indeed being the toxic person, and not only to others but also to my own self. That experience has definitely enabled me to now recognize it in others who are experiencing illness or other life hardships, and even to keep my own behavior in check on my bad health days. I use what I have learned personally as well as the other strategies above to figure out the best approach. It is certainly a thin tightrope to walk, but if walked with extreme care and caution, it can be done successfully. I really appreciate you sharing your experience! ~Thank you so very much for commenting! 🙂

  • This is a great topic of discussion, Makeba!

    I have definitely had my share of people that have hurt me or other’s in the past. The funny thing about it is, for the most part, they really don’t have any clue of what they’re doing, when they are doing it, or how it affects them that fall victim to such foolishness.

    There can be a number of aspects at play for those that go around unknowingly or knowingly, hurting other’s. It can be difficult to imagine someone doing something for the sole purpose of self preservation. They operate out of self and ego. You gave some concrete ways of handling these type of individuals though.

    I have in the past given people the benefit of the doubt; maybe they were having a bad day, maybe they had just been dealt the same blow and wanted to discharge that energy onto someone else, or maybe it’s normal or expectant for them to act in this manner. Whatever the case, understanding the individual is how I first try to get to the bottom of the situation. If that fails and they persist on hurting me or other’s, I simply steer clear of them by any means necessary.

    It can be hard to do if this person is someone that I must be connected with, but from my past experiences it is a must to protect ourselves and our own feelings. (No one can do it like we can do for ourselves.) I will then share with them how they hurt me, and if they don’t seem remorseful or apologetic then there’s my answer; and I act accordingly to what they are showing me through their actions.

    I could go on and on with this one, but that’s the basic resolution for me. 🙂

    • Greetings: You have a great way of handling people who operate in this way! You made some great points! I totally agree: having or getting an understanding of the person plays a huge part in determining who to proceed further. With those of which deliberately hurting people is a part of their human nature, it really is best to stay clear of them if possible and if not completely, then as much as possible. Otherwise, you will find yourself as the victim of their behavior over and over again. Like you said, the person may not even be aware of what they are doing, but you know–and that knowledge should certainly be used accordingly to protect yourself. ~Thank you so much for commenting! 🙂

    • Greetings: I definitely understand where you are coming from! In situations of ‘acquaintances’ and other type of distant associations, it is definitely best to just keep it moving as you said. The closer-type relationships where interaction/communication is absolutely unavoidable are the ones that can certainly get a little trickier. ~Thank you so much for commenting! 🙂

    • Greetings: I agree–being the “hurt people” is not healthy in any form or for any reason. How great of you to have overcome that!! That is a tremendous accomplishment that you should be very proud of! ~I appreciate your kind words and thank you so much for commenting! 🙂

    • Greetings: I am glad to know that this post was helpful to you! ~Thank you so much for your kind words and I appreciate you commenting! 🙂

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