Overcoming Hurtful Words

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Joyce Meyer says that “Words are containers of power.”

 And we’ve  experienced that power. The kind word that lifts your spirits at the end of a tough day,  the compliment that makes you feel good, the encouragement you are given during a difficult task.

Words also damage.  Words can HURT. A LOT!  I suffered a lot of verbal abuse as a child and young woman. By the time I was a teenager I had developed anxiety and other emotional problems – anorexia, agoraphobia. The negative beliefs  that had grown deep inside me encouraged me to pick relationships with men who would continue the abuse.

“Words have more power than atom bombs.” (Pearl Strachan Hurd)


Humans are social creatures – we need to love and feel loved and share pleasant, meaningful interaction.

So the pain from ‘word bombs’ lobbed at you for whatever reason –    anger, blame,  criticism,  or venting over a situation that has nothing to do with you –  is excruciating.

And it’s worse if they are uttered by someone important to you, such as a valued colleague, friend, partner.  All kinds of emotions are triggered – shame, embarrassment, anger. And it can leave a permanent scar unless you deal with it.

deal with words

You can’t control what others say  but you can evaluate what was said:

  • Was it sparked by envy about something you have or have achieved? A backhanded compliment.  Can you put it in a more positive context?
  • Was there some truth in it? Is it highlighting an area you need to work on?
  • Was the speaker having an off day? If so, take a deep breath and let it go. As Christians we shouldn’t take offence.  Proverbs 19:11 states, “A person with good sense is patient, and it is to his credit that he overlooks an offence.” [GW] We’ve all said things we regret when we’re dealing with ‘stuff’ and we hope that others will overlook.
  • Is the speaker generally negative?  Some people just are like that. The best way to handle this,  is to accept that’s who they are and pray for them.

joyce meyer words

Action steps for overcoming hurtful words:

It’s OK to cherry pick the steps that are most useful to you – personally I’ve found steps 1, 2, 5 & 7 helpful.

  1. The most important and effective action step you is to choose to let it go, bless the person and move on. Yes, it’s difficult, but it is possible. It’s like they say – all you can control is your reaction to situations. Think of it as a gift to yourself, setting you free from someone else’s negativity.
  2. Write down how you feel in your journal. Putting words on paper clarifies your thoughts and brings insights. Plus, you can plan what to say if you decide to speak to the person about what was said.  Read more here.
  3. Discuss the situation with someone you trust. Another person’s input often reframes events, giving you objectivity, reassurance and affirmation.
  4. Write a letter to the person who spoke the hurtful words – pour out how you felt when they said them and how you feel now. Let it all out. When you’ve finished, don’t read it, either tear it up and flush it down the lavatory or burn it. Don’t send it!! 🙂
  5. Forgive. I’ve had to do this. It needed a lot of prayer and determination and sometimes it seemed like it was a case of two steps forward and one step backwards.  But it made a MASSIVE difference – forgiving others is one of the best gifts you give yourself.
  6. Remember that forgiveness doesn’t mean that you have to go back to the same situation – you can set boundaries or make adjustments. Sometimes, you need to ask God to bless someone and then let them go out of your life.
  7. Ask God to help you overcome the pain, anger, feelings of rejection etc then believe that He will.
  8. If you have been a long term victim of verbal abuse, you may benefit from seeing a counsellor or other expert.

It is possible to overcome hurtful words – I know this from personal experience of years of negative input.  Make a decision to move beyond the pain of hurtful words, pray, trust and believe.

If you found this post helpful, you’ll enjoy: Forgiveness and  We’ve All Been That Dog That Walked 30 Miles: dealing with rejection

Please share your comments and questions below.  And, if you found this post helpful, please share it with your friends.

Nina is a qualified life coach who enjoys learning and sharing about flourishing.  She is a novice blogger.

Dealing with negative self-talk

Saying negative things about ourselves or giving in to toxic thinking is so destructive – and so easy! 😦

From my own experience I know how easy it is – for example being fairly new to social media I am often perplexed. I have to stop myself saying that I am never going to sort it out so that people enjoy what I do.

Research suggests that you believe the statements you say about yourself more than  the statements from others. So, it is obviously important to say positive and realistic things about you!

We cannot always control  the negative things others say to us or how they treat us – although I would suggest that you make every effort to surround yourself with people who support you, encourage you and give you positive, constructive feedback.

You can also train yourself to evaluate what people say to you:

  • Was there some truth in it? Is so, what can you learn from it to help you in the future?
  • Was it just someone having an off day? Then try just to let it go – we all have bad days so you can at the very least empathise with that.
  • Did it come from someone who is generally negative? There is nothing you can do about people like that except learn to let what they say go and pray for them.
  • Was the comment sparked by envy about something you have or have achieved? In a way it’s a backhanded compliment 🙂 Again, all you can do is try to let it go and pray for them.

Then there is the problem of negative self-talk.

For some of us this stems from our childhood or from others who have been excessively critical, judgemental or unkind. Often, even if we don’t see the people anymore, the power of their words remains with us for years, until we decide to deal with it.  The tape keeps playing in our head, at either the conscious or unconscious level.

Negative self-talk can be overcome with determination and discipline. You have to practise listening to what you are saying or are about to say, and then cut it off.  It will take some practice but eventually, you will be able to stop the thoughts before they are fully-formed and they will stop coming at all.

At the same time, start saying positive things about yourself. Start keeping a journal – it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Sit down with a cup of tea and write out a list of all the things you can do and all your skills and talents.. Write  out each statement in the first person :

  • I am……..
  • I can……..
  • I have……

Then, read the list out loud, preferably while looking in a mirror. Do this ‘mirror talking’ at least once a day for a couple of weeks and you will notice a difference! After the two weeks, keep repeating the statements several times a week – and add to them if something new occurs to you.

It may seem strange or ridiculous at first, or like bragging.  Just persevere. If you find yourself laughing, that’s only a good thing.

Also, at the  end of each day, note down what you have accomplished that day in your journal – no matter how large or small. Get into the habit of celebrating your successes and achievements – they don’t have to be huge, just little things that you are pleased about. You could treat yourself to a long soak in the bath with lots of bubbles, or buy a bottle of wine or a pair of shoes or go the cinema. Whatever most appeals to you.

Find passages in the Bible that resonate with you, personalise them and speak them out loud. Think about them during the day.

Additionally, start a Gratitude section in your journal and on a daily basis note down all the things you are grateful for. Having an Attitude of Gratitude is beneficial in many ways, which I will cover in a later blog.

You can also control what you say about yourself and others.  How many times a day do you mutter “I’m so stupid” or “That’s just typical of me” or something similar? Stop it right now! 🙂

Saying negative things about others has a negative impact on you as well. Avoid gossip or bitching about others.

If you have any queries about this, please email me at mountain_movers@ymail.com. You are also welcome to join the new facebook page Successful Living with Mountain Movers 🙂