Last weekend, I taught at a writing conference. As I met conferees, reviewed their book proposals, and talked to them about their ideas, I was reminded anew that writers often write from their hurts. Difficult, challenging, wounding life experiences are the fuel that drives many to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
But what if you’re not a writer? How do you handle your hurts?
Following are some suggestions:
Find an Outlet
Most of us have experienced some sort of wounding. What we do with our hurts determines how well we recover from them. Your situation may be something that happened long ago—hurtful words or actions—or you may be in a continual cycle of wounding by someone.
The old adage: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is false. The words of others do hurt, and so do their actions. So, how do you cope with emotional pain? Acknowledge it, but also find an outlet. Cultivate a creative pursuit. Get involved in a service organization. Volunteer. Refocusing your pain promotes forward motion.
Avoid a Victim Mentality
When you are hurting, it’s easy to get mired in the stagnation of old wounds and adopt a victim mentality. That mindset changes your outlook on life and pushes others away. No one likes to be around someone who is constantly grousing about ancient or on-going situations. Others have experienced similar hurts, yet moved forward. We all have hard circumstances in our lives. By encouraging and supporting each other, we move beyond them.
Look for Sources of Joy
Sometimes, we must intentionally look for and relish joy. Joy can be found in a brief conversation, an unexpected discovery, or quiet moments in the beauty of nature. Joy doesn’t have to involve a belly laugh or ear-to-ear smile to be real and meaningful. Discover your sources of joy and revel in them.
Decide to Move Forward
Moving beyond hurt doesn’t just happen; it’s a conscious decision. If you are waiting for an apology, or a change in the person who wounds you, you’ll never make progress. Realize your self-worth isn’t dependent on the approval of any other person. Likewise, the abuse, criticism of, and negativity toward you doesn’t define or label you. Look to your Creator for your identity and self-worth.
Forgive and Release the Hurt
Have you ever heard someone say, “Oh, I can never forgive! They don’t deserve my forgiveness.”?
Perhaps the speaker thinks these words punish the offender. Instead, the unforgiver imposes punishment on himself. Unforgiveness is like wearing a heavy backpack that weighs and slows. Unforgiveness is an unnecessary load you carry everywhere you go. It affects everything about your life and relationships and hinders forward motion.
Don’t harm yourself with the mistaken idea you are hurting your offender. Release, forgive, and move forward.
“He [God] is the healer of the brokenhearted. He is the one who bandages their wounds” (Psalm 147:3 GW).
Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving through, and beyond, difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).
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