You may feel angry, sad, embarrassed, or even scared when someone says or does something that hurts you. While it may be tempting to lash out in response, keeping a calm face and ignoring the hurtful behaviour is sometimes the best thing you can do. Allow yourself some time to be upset after the upsetting event. Understanding where the other person was coming from and owning your feelings about what happened can also assist you in moving forward.
Method 1: Ignoring Harmful Behavior in the Present
1. Maintain your composure. If someone is attempting to intentionally hurt or upset you, it is critical that you do not give them what they want. On the other hand, if they aren’t being intentionally hurtful, reacting with anger can unnecessarily escalate the situation. Even if you’re angry, sad, or scared, try to appear calm and collected. Take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth if you find it helpful.
Count to ten slowly in your head.
Maintain a neutral and expressionless expression on your face.
2. If you can’t think of anything constructive to say, remain silent. If someone is being rude or hurtful to you, you may feel compelled to lash out or strike back with your own harsh words. However, doing so will almost certainly aggravate the situation. Instead of saying whatever comes to mind in the heat of the moment, pause and consider whether what you want to say is necessary, true, or helpful. If it isn’t, don’t say it!
Refrain from yelling, crying, or insulting the other person. If you find yourself snapping back or speaking before you think, try gently biting your tongue or putting your finger to your lips.
If you want to respond but need some time to calm down and think about your words, try saying, “Excuse me, I need a moment.” Step out of the room to calm down.
Go for a walk if you can’t think of anything to say after someone is rude to you. Not only will it give you time to relax, but moving your body literally helps you think better!
3. If the other person is being intentionally hurtful, walk away. If you believe the other person is bullying you or attempting to hurt your feelings, simply walking away may be the best way to handle the situation. This will communicate to them that you are uninterested in engaging in their hurtful and inappropriate behaviour.
If you’re comfortable doing so, say something like, “Stop doing that,” or “The way you’re acting is inappropriate.” “I’m departing.”
If you are unable to simply walk away, use your actions to demonstrate to the other person that you are unwilling to interact. For example, you could take out your phone and begin playing a game, put in your earbuds, or turn away and converse with someone else who is present.
4. If the person is someone you know, respond. Ignoring someone isn’t always the best way to respond to hurtful behaviour. For example, if the person who hurt you is a family member, friend, or coworker, it may be best to confront them calmly and explain how their actions have affected you. Ignoring them will almost certainly result in festering resentments and will not solve the problem.
For instance, you could say, “When you call me names like that, I feel very hurt and disrespected.” Stop treating me like that.”
If a stranger is rude to you or you believe the incident is a one-time occurrence, it may be best to ignore what happened and move on.
5. If the behaviour is a pattern, set firm boundaries with the person. If you’re dealing with someone who consistently behaves in hurtful ways, setting and enforcing some boundaries with them may be beneficial. Inform them that you will no longer respond to their hurtful behaviour. Make certain that the consequences you impose are carried out.
It can be beneficial to offer an alternative to the harmful behaviour at times. You can then ignore the bad behaviour while reinforcing the better alternative. Formalized paraphrase
For example, you could say, “I’m not going to talk to you if you laugh at me or insult me.” We can talk when you’re ready to be respectful and truly listen to what I’m saying.”
6. If you believe you are in danger, get away and seek help. Do not confront the person if you feel physically threatened. Get away from them as soon as possible and find someone who can assist you, or call 911 as soon as it is safe to do so.
Don’t ignore someone who is threatening you or physically abusing you! Even if you leave the situation, they may repeat the behaviour or injure someone else. Inform someone in authority about the abusive behaviour.
If you need to see the person again, try to bring someone with you. They can serve as a witness to any further abusive behaviour or assist in keeping the bully in check.
Method 2: Moving On After Being Hurt by Someone
1. Allow yourself to be upset by what occurred. It’s natural to feel bad if someone has done something truly heinous. Ignoring or denying your feelings will not make them go away, and may even make them worse. Instead, give your emotions a name and allow yourself to experience them without judgement.
When you have a moment to yourself, sit somewhere quiet and just breathe and reflect on how you are feeling. For example, you could tell yourself, “I’m feeling tense and embarrassed.” I’m very upset about Allie’s behaviour at my birthday party.”
Spend some time considering whether this is bringing up anything from your past for you. Understanding what is being triggered can help you put what has just happened into context.
Mindful meditation is an excellent way to connect with and work through difficult emotions. Spend a few minutes each day meditating on how you are feeling in the present moment, both physically and emotionally.
2. Attempt to comprehend the individual’s motivations. Consider what was going on in the other person’s head to cause their behaviour. Maybe they were having a bad day and lash out at everyone around them, or maybe they didn’t realise how hurtful their behaviour was. Even if it’s obvious that the other person was being intentionally cruel, keep in mind that people typically act in this manner due to their own insecurities.
Understanding or empathising with the other person’s motivations does not obligate you to justify their behaviour. It can, however, assist you in making sense of their behaviour and feeling less hurt and confused as a result of it.
3. Recognize that the hurtful behaviour of the other person is not your fault. Remember that the other person chose to act the way they did, regardless of what led up to your hurtful encounter with them. Their actions reveal more about them than they reveal about you.
Recognize, on the other hand, that the other person does not control your feelings or behaviours. It’s okay to be hurt, but remember that your hurt feelings are entirely your own.
4. Instead of ignoring the other person, focus on solving the problem. Ignoring someone is not always a good or healthy way to resolve a conflict. In fact, ignoring someone or giving them the silent treatment on purpose can be extremely harmful. If the person who hurt you is a friend, loved one, significant other, or coworker, talking to them about how you feel and discussing solutions is usually a better option.
For example, you could say, “I’m really offended when you call me immature during an argument.” Can we work on finding better ways to express our frustration with one another without resorting to insults?”
5. If possible, keep your contact with the person to a minimum. If you’re dealing with someone who consistently hurts you or disregards your boundaries, your best bet may be to avoid them as much as possible or to cut ties entirely. If you believe you owe the person an explanation for why you are avoiding them, tell them calmly that you have been repeatedly hurt by their behaviour and are cutting ties for your own good.
If you can’t avoid the person entirely, such as a coworker or a family member who lives with you, be civil but don’t seek their company. If possible, have a second person with you when you need to interact with them.
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