Today i want us to discuss the topic “Hurt People Always Hurt Others so Heal First” . The events of the past two weeks starting from the #endsars movement, to the #endswat and then #endbadgovernance really showed how deeply hurt many citizens had been with the SARS endemic. A protest that started of peacefully escalated into full blown unrest that ended up crippling activities nationwide. These events pointed to the fact that the pain directed towards the citizenry by the now defunct SARS group cut real deep. On deep reflection, i couldn’t help but liken this to our personal lives and the pain we feel when we’re let down by people or taken advantage of.
This led me to asking the question, “Why do people hurt others”?.
Emotionally damaged people have always been known to hurt other people and cause them much pain. I have seen adults who grew up under a lot of emotional abuse doing the same to their spouses, sexually abused kids growing up to become women who use sex as a tool for control or men who sexually molest others.
These people who underwent a lot of abuse as children grow up not processing and unpacking their pain & for any pain not processed, the sufferer will mask it. Masked pain stemming from abuse leads many into correctional positions. clerics, military, teachers, fathers, mothers etc. because they seek for some form of restitution with every help they render. Unfortunately, pain and hurt need to be confronted and not masked. This has become the reason for a lot of abuse, rape, rage prevalent in society.
SPIRITUAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL
This directed my thoughts to the concept of spirituality in Nigeria and Africa at large. We are the most spiritual people. Every kilometer littered with churches, mosques, herbalists but yet with actions very dissociated from spirituality. Why are we a spiritual people yet have some of the ugliest people (in terms of character) around. I personally believe it’s partly because;
“We have been taught to battle psychological problems with spirituality, is there something wrong with combining both spiritual and psychoanalytic approaches to solution finding? Absolutely not! -Temple Obike
Emotional health needs have been starved for a long time and people with emotional needs made to appear weak. This made them mask these emotions and hurt people around them as ways of feeling better with themselves.
NOW I KNOW I’M HURTING OTHERS BECAUSE I’M ALSO IN PAIN
I speak to people who have imprisoned themselves in their pain everyday. I show them ways to release themselves from the shackles they’ve placed themselves in. In extreme cases, i have to take them back to their place of emotional pain so they experience it again after which they forgive themselves and the person who hurt them. With all of this, i have learnt a few things about pain and people who hurt that i would love to share;
A) Suspicion: Hurt people look at every motive and action through the pain they have gone through in the course of their lives. This keeps them eternally on guard with their emotions.
Solution: You need to understand that not everyone is out to hurt you. There are some good people around and when good people around you have to walk on egg shells, they would most likely make mistakes that would further entrench your suspicion.
B) Aggression: That angry response, harsh tone of voice, rage directed towards people around them is simply a case of rage and aggression transference.
Solution: You may need to get some anger management help to help you unbundle your emotions and better express it.
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C) Mis-interpretation: One of the first things i look out for are an individuals interpretation of things happening around and to them. When an individuals interpretation of personal experiences are more personalized than objective, it usually points to misinterpretation and signals the existence of some present hurt which has not been addressed.
Solution: Sometimes a heartfelt discussion with someone you trust, is wiser than you and has demonstrated competence in the area you struggle with. This could help you get a clearer perspective but beyond discussing with them, put down your defenses, assume the role of a child in a classroom who wants to learn and you will leave with a valid lesson.
D) Sensitivity : This is similar to misinterpretation but goes a bit deeper because the ego is the key consideration here. Hurt people have a fragile ego which leads them to believe every action is a direct hit at their personhood. This makes them attack people close to them and retain people who are psychologically manipulative close because they are the ones who play to their ego.
Solution: A discussion with a trusted, wiser authority figure, friend or parent would do great good. As mentioned in the solution for mis-interpretation, a learning attitude would help.
E) Stunted Emotional Growth: I have spoke to 50-something year old’s whose emotional disposition are those of a 12 years old. This isn’t something that’s to be treated lightly i learned over the years. A man who was abused sexually at age 10 stops growing emotionally at that point as much as he may cover it up with musculature, acquisitions and more. This becomes obvious the moment any situation directly hits at their emotions because their level of emotional maturity is made obvious.
Solution: This requires the ability to first acknowledge the existing hurt and seeking help from professionals.
F) A Victim-Mentality: When in the presence of hurt people, they usually feel victimized. It is important to note that most of the people who rally others to a cause are usually doing this from a “victim’s” perspective. So before you sign up for a cause, it’s usually best to determine the conveners angle and to your best ability his core principles.
Solution: This also requires the ability to first acknowledge the existing hurt and seeking help from professionals.
G) Triggers: When you are yet to completely heal from a hurt, certain actions, scenarios, words or memories will get you acting out. People over-react when certain words are spoken to them because it reminds them of something that caused them pain which is yet to be dealt with.
Solution: Learn to delay your actions with some skills that would engage the logical side of you. Something as simple as counting backwards from 5 to zero in your mind could quickly douse the severity of the response or reaction you would have given.
H) Using Career, Work and Accomplishments to Fight Low Self Esteem: As strange as this may sound, many successful people around you are individuals who have propelled themselves forward using anger, esteem issues, hate, bitterness etc. as fuel. They become so engrossed in their career life that they rarely have time for anything else because it helps them numb the pain of their hurt. Their success is their elixir. Unfortunately, 95% of the time success never really heals hurt but rather presents a greater risk of making the individual appear less rational and humane.
Solution: Speak to a professional who can assist you because the higher up the ladder you go, the more unforgiving the people around you become with your mistakes. Afterall, you should know better than to display hurt and immaturity considering your position.
I) Alienating Loved Ones & Depression: Hurt people usually have a self-destructive streak that pushes away people who care for them. This is a trait that ties into a school of thought that says “hurting people not knowing how to receive love”. Seeing other people willing to show them love is a painful concept to them. This reason here is one of the reasons many marriages are hurting. This is also leads them to a point of depression.
Solution: The solution to this is understanding that vulnerability isn’t a weakness but a form of strength that allows relationships and marriages heal as well as the hurting individual reveal where they hurt. This is an activity which should be carried out under a professional setting or with individuals who truly respect, love and care about you.
J) Alcohol, Pornography, Drugs, Sexual Deviancy or Overt Spirituality Become an Escape: Hurt people use all these as a form of escape that separates them from their present reality. They indulge in these vices to an extent it leaves them numb to their pain momentarily. Unfortunately, the hurt hasn’t been dealt with and will surface the moment everything else wears off.
Solution: Get professional help because every vice mentioned above has the tendency to become a full-blown addiction.
With my practice, I distance religion/spirituality from logic but there are some junctions where these always cross paths. Hurt people are usually the ones I see mostly in search of deeper meaning and reasons for their existence. The next points buttress this;
K) Hurt Introduces Spiritual Depth: Many hurt individuals are driven to a point beyond mere emotional pain. The depths of their anguish makes them question the reasons for their existence. With questions like this, many hurt people venture into spiritual pursuits all in a bid to further understand themselves. For others, it’s the passage of time that makes them seek out redemption from anywhere because they are now old enough to tell themselves the truth about who they really are. Middle aged individuals fall more into this category than their elderly counterparts in their 60’s.
Solution: This is the time to speak to a professional or a trusted advisor who would give a holistic view on your current spiritual pursuits.
L) Hurt People Can’t Forgive: This is an action that has led many people to poisoning their own systems. Hurt people find it hard to let go of hurtful memories. These memories are triggered when they see, hear or read about anything or anyone associated with inflicting the hurt. The ability to let go of negative emotions felt towards others is key to maintaining a mentally balanced and healthy life.
Solution: You have to first of all stop beating up yourself due to the hurt you feel. Aptly put, stop blaming yourself for feeling the way you do. Secondly, you will have to forgive the ones who caused you the hurt because if you do not, you are the victim not them. However, the moment you forgive, you immediately let go of negative emotions and free yourself up to become more. A professional can help you achieve this or you could also speak to a trusted authority figure in your life.
As always, i hope this piece on “Hurt People Always Hurt Others. Heal First.” helped someone. If you are struggling with hurt, you will find it difficult to accept genuine love, care and concern when it’s given. Getting into a relationship or marriage does not heal you, it only further reveals a need.
Written by Obike Temple
A Psychotherapist, counselor and entrepreneur who has counseled over three-hundred couples, individuals, substance abuse and grief-stricken clients.
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