Jan 242014 35 Responses

You Hurt My Feelings

There is no greater trump card in today’s society than “You hurt my feelings.” It’s the phrase announcing that you have crossed the line. I am the victim; you are the perpetrator. (To see how this plays out in families or organizations, see: I Know Who Is In Charge of Your Family)

Everything must stop because you have gone out of bounds.

There are only two problems with this phrase:

1) You can’t hurt my feelings. That’s why they are called my feelings. I’m in charge of them; they belong to me. It’s my choice as to what hurts them. You do not control me. I can choose to have my feelings hurt by something you do, but you cannot hurt my feelings.

2) Maybe my feelings needed to be hurt. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I was selfish. Maybe your action is offensive to me because I need to be offended. The funny thing about saying “You hurt my feelings” is that it implies “What you did was wrong,” but it only implies it was wrong because my feelings were hurt. Maybe your action was right even though I got my feelings hurt. Maybe it was my guilt or shame that led to the feeling of hurt. (See: Sometimes You Need to Be a Jerk)

“You hurt my feelings” is a phrase we should never use. We shouldn’t use it because it isn’t true. It’s a confession of our own mistake of allowing another person to control us.

Instead, we should start telling the truth:

  • “I was upset by what happened.”
  • “I was disappointed by your actions.”
  • “I felt hurt because of what you did.”

These are all true statements. They communicate the hurt while taking responsibility for ourselves. (See: If This Offends You, I’m Not Sorry)

Yet even if you could hurt my feelings, this phrase shouldn’t be used because it places feelings above truth. It gives the impression that we should honor feelings above all other things.

This simply isn’t true.

Feelings are important, but there are things far more important. Truth, value, justice, right/wrong are all more vital than a temporary emotion.

Instead of saying “You hurt my feelings,” we could say:

  • “What you said wasn’t true.”
  • “What you did wasn’t right.”
  • “This didn’t communicate the whole story.”
  • “That was not necessary.”

These statements value ideals which are more important than feelings. They don’t diminish feelings, but feelings can’t be debated. You feel what you feel. The horrific downside of making feelings as the ultimate trump card in society is that we are asking people to debate things which shouldn’t be debated. If what you did was right, but the action hurt my feelings and I think you are wrong because “You hurt my feelings,” I am forcing you to debate how I feel. It’s an impossible situation.

We should never debate the feelings of another. We should accept them for what they are. It is not our job to question, doubt, or change another person’s feelings. We should listen and value what another person feels. It is our job to question, doubt, or change our actions. But those actions should be determined by what is right, valuable, and true rather than what a person feels in response to them.

For More, See:

Top 10 Communication Posts

A Forgotten Sign of Adulthood

35 Responses to You Hurt My Feelings
  1. […] Saturday!  Why Kevin Thompson says we need to stop using the phrase, “You Hurt My Feelings.&#... programhappier.com/2014/01/link-you-hurt-my-feelings
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  9. […] Not all pain is expressed in the area causing the tension. (See: You Hurt My Feelings) […]... kevinathompson.com/referred-pain
  10. […] We can care. We can feel a deep sense of compassion and empathy for others. (See: You Hurt My Feelin... kevinathompson.com/how-to-better-control-yourself
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  13. […] Other people’s emotions. I want other people to be happy, but I can’t make them happy. I... https://www.kevinathompson.com/i-refuse-to-own-that

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