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Feeling Hurt Can Be Destructive

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

We all know how discomforting, irritating, upsetting, or disturbing it feels to experience rejection, betrayal, unfair treatment, criticism, humiliation, injustice, discrimination, or failed expectations.

When a person does something you judge as hurtful, you first may devalue yourself, thinking you must be a terrible person or the other would not have treated you so. You instantly turn your thinking around, stop blaming yourself and blame the other for treating you so. Then you generate anger to get even with the other person.
We think others hurt us. In reality we hurt ourselves.

In this last post of the series "Healing Negative Emotions," I will clarify which emotions are rational and which aren't, and hurt is one of them.

But before explaining hurt, I want to highlight the importance of reading the introductory blog The Methodology of Healing from Negative Emotions. If this is the first post you see, please hit that link before continuing here. It gives essential information for the reader to make sense of the theory of healing from feelings described in this series. If you read it before and remember the methodology, please skip it.

The emotional movement from inferiority to superiority:

Hurt is an emotion we use for the purpose of getting even, which we need to do to come out from feeling inferior. In Adlerian psychology, we call this a movement from a felt minus to a perceived plus.

It's an emotional movement all humans experience, and the most common emotions to get out of a place of inferiority are anger or frustration, which is a mild form of anger.

When we call someone an idiot, it's because that person's behavior triggered an inferior emotion, such as feeling disrespected, unimportant, or incompetent, just to name three of many feelings of inferiority.

To escape feeling inferior, we instantly turn our thinking around and blame that person for their bad behavior. To feel a sense of superiority, we need an emotion such as anger to justify negatively labeling them with, for example, an idiot.

Once we are in a felt minus, we need to move to a perceived plus to come even again eventually. When we feel even, we don't rate ourselves as better or less than others; we feel worthy and belong.

Feeling hurt distorts reality.
Movement from a felt minus to a perceived plus

When you feel emotionally hurt, you think others hurt you, but in reality, you hurt yourself. Therefore, feeling hurt can be destructive.

When a person does something you judge as hurtful, you first may devalue yourself, thinking you must be a terrible person or the other would not have treated you so.

Suppose you experience rejection, whether it's in romantic relationships, friendships, or social groups. The hurtful feeling of not being valued or accepted by others can deeply affect one's self-esteem and emotional well-being. But in reality, it should not become your problem if someone does not recognize your value. However, the thoughts you put into questioning yourself are painful, and to move away from that pain, you need to move to a place of superiority by thinking low of those who don't seem to value you.

To avoid hurtful thinking, you can acknowledge the sensed rejection as, for example, unfortunate, disappointing, or uncomfortable. These three emotions don't devalue you but help you rationalize the situation.

Rational emotions versus irrational emotions

Emotions that help you rationalize a situation or indicate that something doesn't feel right are:














Irrational emotion, however, makes the situation all about you, leading to feelings of inferiority that deeply hurt. Click here to see the list of irrational emotions.

Feeling hurt distorts reality.

Someone can't reject you. Someone may have other preferences in people or not be ready to engage the way you would like to.

A person can't betray you. However, they break their word, lie, and behave very poorly, which is disapointing.

Others can criticize you, but that doesn't change your value. It just helps you see the opinion they have about you. And it enables you to choose people who see you for who you are.

Nobody can humiliate you unless you doubt your worth. What you can learn, though, is to realize how little self-respect someone has to treat others without respect. Then, move on to find better people to surround yourself with.

In case you ask yourself if I can always see situations rationally.

No, I don't, but I'm on my way.

I haven't overcome every ounce of my inferiorities yet, which makes me human. As soon as I've answered one internal question, the next comes up. It's a life-long conversation with myself, yet the debates are a lot less; they have become constructive and much more interesting than many years ago.

And for me, the most essential ingredients of these conversations are easy-goingness and humor.

Albert Ellis founded the REBT Therapy Method, and much of the discussion in this post is about his school. To learn more about it, please visit

I use his, among other methods, for preparing me and my clients before they come for a personal retreat. The REBT Method helps me profoundly assess the client's struggle and have progressive, goal-oriented one-on-one sessions.

If you have feedback about this series, please feel free to share. The next post will be about anger and frustration.

I'm sending you my best regards.



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