Dealing with people who hurt you

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No matter your position in life, the actions of others can sometimes hurt you. Some people try to tough it out and pretend that the words roll right off them, but there is always a little something that gets into our heads and rattles our cages.

When that happens, the first thing to do is to consider the source. If it is someone who is drunk, disgruntled or disgusting, you can more easily disregard what was said or done. If the person is someone you work with or have some other relationship with, then things get a little more complicated.

Letting someone know that they have hurt you may not be easy. Guys can have a harder time with this, because they've been told not to give in to their feelings, and may try to ignore idiotic comments.

Sometimes that just isn't possible, however, so before you react, check in with yourself and see if it's worth the effort. In most cases, you'll want to mention the offense before the offending party forgets it ever happened.

Confronting someone can be difficult and daunting for a lot of people. We become concerned that our intention to end the hurt will be misunderstood, and we will look like a fool. We may also fear that even a gentle confrontation may push our friend away or turn a co-worker into an enemy. Hesitation is understandable, but something needs to be said, or the problem may continue.

Saying to another person -- man or woman -- "What you said hurt my feelings; please don't do that again," is absolutely appropriate. It's just hard to get it out sometimes.

The fear of being hurt more, or being embarrassed that you are feeling emotional, can keep you from protecting yourself. But protecting yourself is necessary, especially if the problem persists.

After you have expressed your feelings, what you need is for the person to acknowledge what you've said and agree to honor your wishes. Once you've received that acknowledgment, then wait and see what happens.

Avoidance is another strategy, but if you are involved in a business or personal relationship with the offender, avoiding him or her will be difficult. Ending the relationship is always an option, but may well be an overreaction.

Most people understand when they have crossed the line and are willing to pull back once they understand their transgression. If that doesn't happen, you may need to be the one who withdraws, so you don't have to deal with the negativity.

The less you feed the bully, the less often he or she will try and take your lunch.

The other person may need your help at some point, and this is where you get to illustrate what being a kind and giving person is all about.

As always, example is our best teacher.

(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author, most recently, of "100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence -- Believe in Yourself and Others Will Too." Email him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com.)

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