You Hurt My Feelings! The Victim Blame Game

hurt feelingsOnce when I was around 12 years old, my Aunt Iris said something to me that “hurt my feelings.” I can’t remember what it was, but Iris was a smart, opinionated, outspoken woman and I’m sure it was nothing other than the bald truth.

Aunt Iris loved me and I knew it. She wouldn’t do or say anything of a negative nature toward me. Yet, I told her about what she said and how she hurt me. Instead of an apology, which I expected, my accusation was met with a surprise. “NO, I did not!” she exclaimed, looking me right in the eye. “I couldn’t possibly hurt your feelings.”

“But you did!” I replied.

“Impossible!” she said. “I don’t have one iota of control over your emotions and feelings. YOU are the only one with that power.”

What in the world? Why, this was simply stunning! Aunt Iris wasn’t taking responsibility for my feelings? She wasn’t even letting me make her wrong? Instead, she stood her ground. My little adolescent heart was hurt again. How dare her!!

But, Iris had just given me one of the greatest lessons for being emotionally balanced. She was teaching me on the spot that blaming others for the way I feel keeps me weak, powerless, and victimized. Since then, I’ve realized there is nothing anyone can say that can hurt my feelings. Which doesn’t mean I don’t feel hurt over things that are said sometimes. It just means I can’t blame the other for saying them. If I’m hurt, it’s about me.

And—holy liberation—others are responsible for their own emotions, too! Their emotions are under their control, not mine. They only wish I’d take responsibility and blame, so they wouldn’t have to. Sound familiar?

Now, I’m not a TV watcher except for one twisted secret pleasure: Orange County Housewives. There. I admitted it. Maybe I find it a fascinating case study in human relations. Yes, that’s it! And those women are absolutely committed to keeping themselves victims in the YOU-HURT-MY-FEELINGS realm. They can’t see it because humans are well-adapted to blaming others for how they feel. The ladies of the OC play the victim, don’t take responsibility for themselves, and perpetuate weakness among women. (After all, how many men do you come across who accuse their friends of hurting their feelings? It appears to be a very female crutch.)

So what to do? Keep the following in mind.

Other people are allowed to comment, express themselves, and speak their minds, even when you believe it’s hurtful. Because in truth, there isn’t anything anyone else can say that can hurt you. You choose to feel hurt because you’re not accepting that what another person says is about them, and not you. Yes, they are trying to make it about you, and you might be at fault. They might be right. Even so, it’s absolutely fine for you to let others make comments and not let them affect you. Something nasty from another person comes from their pain and ignorance. Plain and simple.

So give it a try. Stay centered. Keep breathing. It’s not actually about YOU.

While we’re on the subject, stay tuned for more in the next Holistic Woman post where I’ll talk about 6 Ways to Be in Charge of Your Own Emotional Life.

14 thoughts on “You Hurt My Feelings! The Victim Blame Game

  1. Carol Lamoreaux

    This is so true, Christina! We do have control over how we feel. There are people who always try to put their problems on to someone else, probably because that is easier than facing them and taking care of them themselves. But, if we just remember it’s really about them and their feelings, it will help us keep their comments in perspective and not let them make us feel bad.

    Reply
    1. drchristinagrant Post author

      Thanks Carol! I think we empower ourselves when we remember who’s truly in the driver’s seat!

      Reply
  2. Catherine Reed

    So simple, yet profound! If only everyone knew this truth. I am a marriage and family mentor and reiki energy healer and help families with this very subject everyday. Yet, how ironic that it’s the #1 thing I get to work on, too. 🙂 I have learned that when someone criticizes me, it’s truly a judgement of themselves, so that helps me stay balanced and choose to not be offended. Instead I want to give them a big hug because they’re obviously hurting something fierce deep inside. Great post!

    Reply
    1. drchristinagrant Post author

      Hi Catherine and thanks for your reply ~ How wonderful you get to work with this subject with families! Imagine how many family feuds would be resolved if we all took care of our own feelings.

      Reply
  3. Julie

    Fantastic post, and a great reminder. ONce you allow other people to have their reactions, it’s such a relief! And once you take the responsibility of what you can learn about yourself from a ‘hurt’ it’s of great value to your own growth. I always encourage my clients to say, ‘When he/she did/said that, what did you make up about yourself? BTW love your expression ‘holy liberation’, brilliant! Jx

    Reply
    1. drchristinagrant Post author

      Hi Julie ~ Thank you! I love that expression too. It just sort of came out of me when I felt how great it feels to be free from all that emotional entanglement!

      Reply
    1. drchristinagrant Post author

      Awww, thanks Kate! Aunt Iris was a real fireball and she did teach me some good lessons. She passed two years ago and the nurses said she was opinionated up to her last moment. I liked hearing that.

      Reply
  4. Louise / Priestess Tarot

    You would be very surprised (actually, you probably wouldn’t be!) how many times I’ve had people before me say that they’re hurt because of “X”, who didn’t return the phone call or didn’t Y… I think I would have liked your Aunt Iris, now I’m older 🙂

    Reply
  5. Miriam Granthier

    I agree. I remember this concept being very hard when I first heard it – I found the Gestalt Prayer difficult for instance. I do think that I don’t have to take other people’s words on board or make them mean anything about me, it’s my choice. I do however like to be aware that my own words and actions may impact others and I wouldn’t like to be like your Aunt Iris and meet someone’s hurt in the way she did! Sometimes we feel hurt and it’s a bit harsh to be met with the idea that it’s our choice to be hurt from someone who has triggered that. So a great and truthful concept, that is sometimes used by people as a defence against finding their own compassion, I think.

    Reply
  6. drchristinagrant Post author

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this Miriam. Yes, Aunt Iris always laid her cards out on the table for all to see, and you knew where you stood with her. Invigorating and refreshing, usually.

    Reply

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