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Hurt Feelings vs. Hurt Heart

By Dr. Margaret Paul
November 09, 2009

Discover the vast difference between hurt feelings and hurt heart, and how embracing our heart hurt moves us into personal power and emotional freedom.

Hurt Feelings, Heart HurtClifford, 42, married with children, told me during a phone session that he was tired of not feeling happy and joyous.

"As a small child, I remember being so happy and excited about life. But my parents didn't receive me at all. They were indifferent to my creativity and excitement."

"Clifford, how did you feel when they didn't receive you?"


Yes, shattered. And the shattered feeling was too big for a sensitive little boy, so Clifford learned to put a lid on his joy to protect himself from feeling shattered.

He also learned to protect himself by taking his parents' indifference personally, deciding that he wasn't good enough or important enough to be received.

Hurt Feelings

Clifford learned to take his parents' rejection personally as a way to feel in control of their unloving behavior: "It's my fault," he told himself as a small child, "that they are not loving me, so if I can just figure out the right way to be, I can get love and avoid pain." When he took his parents' behavior personally, his feelings got hurt. He learned to prefer getting his feelings hurt rather than experience the existential life feeling of feeling shattered.

If you look inside, you may discover that underneath hurt feelings is a deeper hurt - the kind of hurt that feels shattering, the kind of hurt that hurts the heart.

When you are in your wounded ego self, it is easy to have your feelings hurt from telling yourself that you are wrong or bad or that it is your fault that you are being treated unlovingly. You feel hurt feelings whenever you take another's unloving behavior personally.

We all had to create our wounded selves to survive childhood, because the shattered feeling of heart hurt was way too big for our little bodies to handle. We might have died or gone crazy if we had not been able to create our ego wounded selves.  

Heart Hurt

Now, as adults, we all need to revisit the heart hurt that we have been protecting against all these years.  Heart hurt is the authentic core existential life feeling that is under our hurt feelings.

Heart hurt = loneliness, heartache, heartbreak, sorrow, sadness, and grief in response to the loss of loved ones, to others' unloving behavior toward us and others, to helplessness over others' unloving behavior toward us and others, and to our own unloving behavior toward ourselves and others.

These are the feelings that were too hard to feel as a small child. These are the feelings we now need to feel and show up for as a kind and compassionate loving adult. These are the feelings that all addictive and controlling behavior cover up.

The moment we try to cover these feelings, we are in our wounded self. When we decide to feel our authentic feelings, we open to our core self with deep kindness and compassion for our heart hurt.

The Power and Freedom of Living Our Truth

As long as you do not have the courage to feel the painful existential feelings of life - the heart hurt - you will continue to give yourself up, get angry, blaming and defensive, and turn to substances and activities to avoid your authentic feelings, which can lead to hurt feelings.

Yet when you finally decide to be with your truth and feel the heart hurt of others' unloving behavior, and of your own unloving behavior toward yourself and others, you are well on the journey toward personal power and emotional freedom.

Heart hurt HURTS - a lot. Which is why we avoid it. But when we learn to connect with our spiritual Guidance and embrace it with love, kindness, caring and compassion, we can learn to manage it. When we do, we move beyond fear and dependency and into our power and freedom.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."

Join IBVillage to connect with others and receive compassionate help and support for learning to love yourself.

Photo by Jake Young



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To be an intellect, you must have proof, reason and logic. To be your own self denies proof, reason and logic. So the choice is to spend life proving what you wish to exist or to simply accept what you feel.


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To be an intellect, you must have proof, reason and logic. To be your own self denies proof, reason and logic. So the choice is to spend life proving what you wish to exist or to simply accept what you feel.



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