Hurt feelings. Or rather a life without hurt feelings is the holy grail of relationship prospecting. At least that is true with the women who work with me. Each type, Scarlett, Snow White and Rapunzel are shocked to discover they have aligned themselves with that belief. There is a flawed premise hiding under every love sabotage habit.
Once upon a time, an unconscious wish was wished that you could find someone who would never hurt your feelings. Under that is the flawed premise that you can find love without any pain. Wouldn't it be nice, a dreamy 14 year old you thought, wouldn't it be nice if I could meet a man who is really nice to me and really understands me and never hurts my feelings?
Dreamy teenage idealism coupled with floods of brain induced love chemicals make the body literally buzz with excitement and passion. When that first big crush happens, there is a tiny but precious window before your first big heartbreak, when you experience the best feeling you have ever known or will ever know again.
That intoxicating experience is part of your physical nature, it is a mechanical process to get your attention. We are animals first and the instincts for mating are hardwired into our chemistry. The brain is designed to release chemicals in response to biological timing and those beginning tidal waves of the inner chemistry of passion dive deep, planting seeds of desire that demand fulfillment.
Adolescence is that time. The inner chemistry of a girl from the ages of 13 to 23 is as dramatic as you want to paint it. These are powerful drives driven by hard wired inner chemistry from the oldest parts of your brain. Girls flirt with everyone, including their friends' boyfriends. It is the genesis of betrayal and jealousy among women and many never recover.
It is the fear of revisiting the hurt feelings from that decade that drives the irrational behavior of single women claiming to be ready for love but experiencing the exact opposite. From poor partner choices and over accommodating to physical abuse, fear of being hurt runs the show.
As intoxicating as it is to experience the chemicals that are released when you have a deep crush on someone, the opposite is equally as dramatic on the young girl's psyche. When that first love ends....as it always does, the brain releases floods of distress chemicals which trigger physical reactions that are frightening.
This 'hurt-feelings feeling' is triggered by a flood of brain chemicals driven by a deeply internal part of the brain. The reason the brain behaves this way is simply the mechanical design of your body. It has nothing to do with what is happening to you. Strong inner alarm bells are going off and the hurt feelings are stopping your business as usual and changing your direction.
Part of what feels so terrible when heartbreak strikes is how awful you feel physically. Everyone has a unique hurt-feelings feeling. When you get hit by the inner hurricane of stress chemicals, the body is in distress, right? There is pain, pressure, heat or some sign in the body.
When something happens that hurts my feelings, my upper left chest aches. Like a hot knife is parked there, I can feel a burning that goes up and down in intensity depending on what is going on around me. I also feel an ache in my ears and jaw and my throat tightens up.
Whether I get a critical review on something I wrote, overhear someone saying something cold about me, be overlooked by my family on my birthday, or when a friend disappears, the same hurt-feelings feeling happens. Even writing about it brings the feeling to me right now,
I can only imagine how terrifying it must have been for me as a two year old when my mom's clothes caught on fire. I can only imagine how that tiny body of mine, only 40 pounds or so, reacted to the violent flood of distressing chemicals only natural when in such panic. Science is proving that experiences just like that one literally sear themselves into the cells chemically. Your experience proves it too.
Think back to a girl friend break up. Think back to the last woman who wound herself into your inner circle and then disappeared. There is your hurt-feelings feeling. Where does it show up in your body? That hurt-feelings feeling is you feeling a memory.
Fear of being hurt again is on a hair trigger. Like a well iced toboggan run, your default reaction to the smallest chance of being hurt again tells your brain to release just enough of the right chemistry to get you to change direction....away from the risk of falling in love again.
Like a ball in a pinball machine, you are batted about by your inner chemistry to avoid being hurt. The problem with that is that love hurts. Always and forever. Love is what is defined as a Complex Emotion. It is an emotion that carries many other emotions under its umbrella. True love has the full range of feelings from deepest comfort and contentment to deepest hurt and disappointment.
When you let someone into your inner circle, that person will remind you of being hurt by someone in your past. Maybe not right away, but I promise you with absolute certainty, you will feel that awful hurt-feelings feeling about someone you really care about. When you freak out over some guy, ask yourself if it reminds you of anyone else.
The good news is, you can make your hurt-feeling go away. You don't have to avoid it. You don't have to change your man's behavior so he doesn't hurt you. Your goal is to learn how to get your brain to produce the relax and relief chemicals when you need them.
Now back to that woman who hurt you...
As you remember that time, scan your body. What hurts? What feels like an elephant is sitting there? What squeezes? Find your hurt-feelings feeling. Just acknowledging that you have one will help. Take a couple of deep breaths and just tell yourself, "A part of me is really hurt, even now, but there is another part of me that knows I did the best I could at the time."
If you know EFT, acupressure, yoga or other physical practices, that is the quickest way to tell the brain to release the soothing chemicals that will relax the hurt-feelings feeling. Writing is also an easy way to stimulate the right chemical cocktail to bring you relief.
If you have a bit of a drama queen within, writing fast and furious for as long as it takes and then burning the pages is quite delightful. My hurt-feelings feeling always goes away when I do that. One time I just scribbled on paper with a black crayon for page after page.
You can practice melting the hurt-feelings feeling as often as you wish. Remember, no matter what is going on around you that is telling your brain to react like this, ultimately it will pass. Your body is designed to balance itself. Your job is to give time and attention to your body's reaction to your situation. You can help yourself feel better within minutes.
When you feel distressed, go to your menu of physical activities that make you feel good and your brain will release the exact right chemistry to relieve your hurt feelings. Once your feelings are calmed, then make a plan about what do to next. You will have a better perspective of your options.
Special Acknowledgment to Dr. Berit Brogaard for her ground breaking research on break up recovery.
Catherine Behan, Author, Speaker and Master Love Attraction Coach is a leading authority in Love Sabotage and the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). A magnet to long time singles and never marrieds, she delights in introducing singles to their True Love Saboteurs, Snow White, Scarlett O'Hara or Rapunzel so they can end love sabotage once and for all. Catherine is working on her third book, Lovesick Love: How Brain Chemistry Intoxicates, Hi-Jacks Your Mind and Sabotages Your Love Life with Dr. Berit Brogaard on how the brain chemistry of love drives irrational behavior, why it is killing your love life and what you can do about it. Dr. Brogaard is Associate Professor of Psychology and Philosophy at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
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