The Ripple Effect: When They hurt, I Hurt Too

Have you ever had a loved one who is hurting, and their pain over time becomes your own? Whether it is a family member, loved one, or friend if you are invested, chances are you will suffer with them. As relational beings, we are driven to stick together for better or for worse. Depending on our own life experiences some individuals may stick around longer than others. Regardless of the time frame, you may find that hurting people tend to hurt others. Although their behavior may be unintentional, there are ways to evaluate the relationship and protect yourself from further damage. The answer may be to walk away, or if that is simply not an option then fighting for the relationship in a healthier way. Here are some helpful ways to protect yourself from those who hurt you:

  1. Protect yourself and set boundaries

We teach people how we want to be treated. A boundary is set to keep those expectations in place and if they are crossed, consequences are bound to occur.  Someone who has a lack of boundaries will continually be hurt and there are little to no consequences for the offender. You must be honest about your boundaries with others. Explain what you can tolerate and what will happen if that line is crossed. As the boundary setter, you also must be honest with yourself and know this may result in losing someone close to you if lines are crossed. A good example, your loved one always yells at you when a situation occurs. Your boundary may be to walk away and remove yourself from the conversation until your loved one has had a chance to calm down.

2. Keep the personal out of it

When someone is hurting there is usually some insecurity involved. Insecure people will act as though the world is out to get them and everyone is going to hurt them. When people act out of insecurity, most people do walk away, and this adds to their belief of not measuring up. I have found the best way to speak truth into the hurting is to keep the blame out of their situation. It is good to be truthful but do your best to keep your hurt feelings out of the conversations you have. Learn to understand their point of view even if it is not your own and show them you are different.

3. Give space for healing to occur

Another hard but honest reality is knowing when to give people their space to heal. The old saying time heals all wounds has some merit to it. If someone is asking for space it is important you give that person the time they desire. Let them know you are not going anywhere and give the space that is required without judging or criticizing. Although this may seem painful, space may be exactly what the relationship needs to survive.

4. It is ok to say goodbye

If the relationship is too difficult and you feel you have changed for the worse, it may be time to end the relationship. Evaluate what you deserve and what has been compromised along the journey. If you have lost yourself along the way or allowed boundaries to be crossed time and time again, what are you holding on to? Always respect yourself because you may be the only one doing this in the relationship. Explore the idea of what life would look like if you made this change. Let your decision be made in strength and not in fear of defeat. You are enough, and it is unbelievable how enough you are.

5. No more convincing

Do not stay in a relationship if you are looking for approval. You do not have to convince anyone of your decisions or the direction you decide to take. It is time for you to love yourself and there is nothing you must prove to someone else. If you find yourself constantly telling someone how much you deserve, chances are you do not understand your own worth. Worth should not be found in others, but if you feel you are convincing someone of it the relationship is not healthy.

Whatever decision you choose, make it and move forward. If you choose to stay hold tight to your boundaries and do your best to leave the personal out of it. If you decide to go, do not leave room for regret. Leave with strength, dignity, and love because you are worth it. Both choices require courage and will not be easy, but never second guess your worthiness in the process.

Are you struggling with an unhealthy relationship? Do you have a friend, loved one, or family member who is personally struggling? A licensed mental health counselor can help. Please call Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Orlando counselors.

The White Knight Syndrome by Mary C. Lamia and Marilyn J. Krieger


Walking on Eggshells by Jane Isay



LECS Counselor