How to Move on After Being Hurt

Sadly, we’ve all been hurt in life. Most of us won’t get through the rest of our lives without being hurt again. When we’ve been hurt, we have choices. We can choose to live in a state of resentment and self-pity, or we can choose to move on and embrace what life has for us after our hearts have been raked over the coals.

Being told to move on, keep your chin up or put one foot in front of the other is hardly helpful when you’ve been hurt to the point that you’re having trouble just getting out of bed. However, we want you to know that you’re not alone in this. We’ve got solid advice to help you not only move on but move forward and let go of your painfully.

1. Commit to Letting It Go

Hurt feelings and emotional pain caused by others will not disappear overnight. It takes an intentional decision to let go of the hurt and move forward. The first step to moving on after you’ve been hurt is to decide consciously to do so.

2. Forgive ― or Don’t

Forgiveness is often misused, undeservedly expected and misunderstood. There are people in your life who have offended you, are genuinely sorry and should be forgiven. When your offender is sorry, shows remorse and improves his or her behavior, forgive them. Your forgiveness will go a long way toward healing your relationship and helping you move on.

Then, there are others ― those who continually, habitually hurt you, those who aren’t sorry and those who won’t own their offenses or make an attempt to repair the damage. Renowned psychotherapist and author of “Bad Childhood—Good Life,” Dr. Laura Schlessinger, wrote, “Someone only deserves forgiveness if he or she has demonstrated the 4 Rs. This means that he or she:

  1. Takes responsibility for what he or she has done.
  2. Shows true remorse.
  3. Does something to repair it.
  4. Does not repeat it.”

Some people are more willing than others to own their offenses, ask for an apology and make efforts to change. When your offender does not demonstrate the behaviors deserving of your forgiveness, that doesn’t mean you’re forever stuck in your anger.

Dr. Schlessinger recommends, “Just because you don’t forgive someone doesn’t mean you should spend every day frothing about him or her. Instead, you need to let go. Assess the situation, put a label on it, and then drop it. Will you forget everything? No. Will it never bother you again? No. It’s always going to bother you, but when it raises its ugly head, you can put it in its place. Remember, a bird can land on your head, but it’s up to you to not let it build a nest.”

Regardless of whether or not you forgive your offender, you can still let go of the offense and live your life fully, without feeling or reliving the offense over again.

3. View Your Life as a Whole

When we’ve been the victim of heartbreak or been deeply hurt by someone, it’s easy to feel overcome by the situation. The offense can become the focus of our thoughts, and we can find ourselves unhealthily fixated on it.

Rather than focus on the hurt, as intense as it may be, look at it in terms of the larger picture of your life. When you view your life as a whole, this entire hurtful and sorrowful instance is a blip on the radar. It’s a small portion of your life and something that will pass. Letting the hurt consume you will keep it right at the forefront of your emotions. However, stepping back from the circumstance and viewing it as it truly relates to your life, full of all sorts of positive and negative encounters, will give you a more realistic and objective stance.

4. Allow Yourself to Feel the Feelings

Many times, we stay stuck in our struggles when we hide from the negative feelings we’re experiencing. Sadly, hiding from one’s emotions, like hiding from one’s self, is not possible. So, stop trying. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling.

Recognize your feelings. Express them ― whether you’re writing them down, speaking them aloud to a trusted friend or praying in private about the feelings. Expressing the feelings helps you to feel them, honor them and accept the feelings yourself. Once you’ve felt them, you can then discard them and move forward.

Kaela Scott, a couples’ therapist and the author of “10 Ways to Break Destructive Relationship Patterns,” wrote, “We have to accept what has happened. It is real and while taking some time to be in disbelief is sometimes necessary, trying to pretend we weren’t hurt or that things are fine isn’t healthy. The longer we stay in this place, the longer we suffer. Instead, by honoring that both the experience and the pain it has caused are real, we can grieve properly without using defenses to cope and move forward in a healthier and happier direction.”

5. Talk With Someone

When you’ve been hurt, there’s often a tendency to clam up for self-protection. It’s easy to see why. You allowed yourself to be vulnerable and you got hurt. Logically, since you don’t want to be hurt again, you might close yourself off to others and handle this pain alone. While this is an understandable reaction, it isn’t what’s best for you, and it won’t help you move on after you’ve been hurt.

Talk to your pastor, best friend, mother, a professional therapist or someone else that you know can be trusted. You may need just one conversation to help you process your feelings. It could require a few sessions with a counselor to iron things out.

6. Care for Yourself

After you’ve been hurt, it’s tempting to close up the house, tear into a quart of mint chocolate cookie ice cream and settle in on the couch for the next 48 hours. That sort of behavior won’t help you move on from your pain.

Push through the hurt and the pull toward your sofa. Keep up on your nutrition, take a walk in the sun when you feel like pulling the covers over your head. Go out for a healthy lunch with a good friend and stay active. Take good care of yourself while you’re healing from this hurt and beginning to move on.

7. Duct Tape the Mouth of Your Inner Critic

“It was only a matter of time before she betrayed you.” “What makes you think you’re worthy of a good friend?” “You probably deserve this.” “That’s what you get for trusting someone.”

These are all nasty comments from your inner critic. You know, the voice in your head that calls you a moron when you misplace your keys. The voice that tells you can’t reach goals you aspire to achieve. That one. If you’re not careful, the inner critic can take over with all sorts of negativity that will keep you sitting down in your pain and stuck.

Learn to identify your inner critic. Listen to the way you’re speaking to yourself ― both out loud and within your own mind. Your inner critic is harsh, unforgiving and judgmental. Sharon Salzberg, the author of “Real Love,” wrote, “The inner critic may become a kind of companion in our suffering and isolation. As long as we judge ourselves harshly, it can feel as if we’re making progress against our many flaws. But in reality, we’re only reinforcing our sense of unworthiness.”

When you recognize that you’re being browbeaten and nitpicked by your inner critic, shut it down. Call out that critical voice for what it is and speak affirmations out loud until you can no longer hear the negative voice.

8. Let Go of the Fantasy

As we’re going through hurt and disappointment caused by loved ones, it’s not unusual to slip into fantasy mode. We idealize and fantasize about what might have been and how we could have done things differently. We often look back at our situations in an inaccurate light.

While fantasy thinking may give your emotions a break and help you mentally escape to a rose-colored world, it will not help you move forward after you’ve been hurt. Any time you find yourself peering into the world of “what if” or “if only,” bring your mind back to the reality of the situation. You have to be real with yourself to process this painfully and let it go.

9. Try Something New

In the aftermath of hurt, everything seems to remind you of the offense or the offender. You go to the usual places and your friends ask how you’re doing. You call your sister and she wants you to tell her exactly what happened and rehash the situation. It may feel as if the pain is all around you and a central part of your world. That’s when you need a new focus.

When you’re recovering from being deeply hurt, it’s important to find an outlet. Your entire life has been affected by a traumatic incident. Find some new activity that isn’t at all related to your pain.

You might try pottery. No one at the clay studio in your city knows about your hurt and pain. You can enter this new place and learn a new activity without inviting that elephant to sit beside you. Starting a new hobby can help you refocus your mind, heart, and intention for a few hours each day. When the emotions start to well up, grab your apron and pallet and get back to work on that painting. You’ll move forward a little more each time you give up your fixation on the pain in exchange for the joy your new hobby provides.

10. Help Someone Else

Perhaps the most rewarding and fruitful thing you can do as you are healing is to help another person who is struggling. Maybe you have a neighbor that you notice is having trouble making ends meet. If you have extra money, borrow her car and bring it back with a full tank of gas and a bag of groceries in the front seat. Do you know someone who is dealing with a health crisis? Cook a meal, provide a ride to treatment or take care of her kids while she’s resting.

Helping someone else through a difficult time requires you to set your hurts aside and put your heart into a personal and important task. Emotional intelligence expert Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., says, “The social contact aspect of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on your overall psychological well-being. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection to another person.”

Choose to Move On

Recovering from being hurt and moving on is not easy. However, each day that you choose to hold onto your pain and resentment is a day that you won’t get back. Take some of our advice and use it to move forward into healing.

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