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We have all been hurt. From the little hurts of someone cutting us off in traffic to the major hurts of someone breaking our hearts or betraying us in a big way. Hurt sucks. But too often we get stuck in re-living those hurts. My aunt calls it, “Watering your Hurts”. Watering your hurts means you cultivate them, you make sure your hurts stay fresh and green. You water them by re-telling them over and over and over. You keep a running list of all the times you have been lied to, betrayed, mis-led, diminished, or disrespected. Anytime you are feeling a little scared or unsure you whip out those hurts and you start watering them…making sure they stay fresh and green so you can constantly refer to them and say, “SEE that won’t happen again, as long as this reminder stays fresh I won’t ever be hurt again.”
And that is the big lie of the concept watering of our hurts. Watering our hurts doesn’t keep us from being hurt again. Watering our hurts doesn’t protect us from anything, actually. All it does is keep us stuck in pain and agony. They only one we are hurting as we care and cultivate for our past pain is ourselves.
A great example of this is in a new relationship. You meet someone and you hit it off with them and things are going GREAT! You are blissful for the first 3 months and then things start getting a little rocky (as any relationship will) miscommunications happen, conflicts occur and doubts start to trickle in. You pull out your tray of hurts and you start pruning them and watering them and remembering every time you have been in a relationship and it has gone wrong. You remind yourself of every betrayal and lie you were told. So the next time you see your new friend you are full of anger and resentment…in his/her mind things were temporarily rocky as you move through the inevitable growing pains from honeymoon phase to real-life relationship but in your mind (because you are referencing only your past hurts) he/she is an assh@le who’s sole motivation is to betray you. Yep, watering that hurt really helped protect you, it also kept you from experiencing a potentially amazing relationship.
Watering our hurts, keeps us stuck in the past. Watering our hurts forces us to assume that our hurts are destined to be repeated. Not so. So what are we to do…just let our past hurts die? What about all that PAIN and agony?
Make peace with your past hurts. This peace process involves experiencing and letting go of all the emotions tied to the this particular hurt. This process can take many forms and is highly individualized. You may need to talk to someone neutral to figure out what works best for you. It might help to talk to a friend or visit the person who hurt you. Once you have made peace and are ready to let it go, I am a fan of some sort of ceremony…my favorite: Write down everything that happened. You can write a letter to the person who hurt you, you can tell it in a story….just get the juicy hurt filled emotions out on paper. And then destroy it (I prefer fire) but you can use whatever method you prefer.
Write down what you learned from that particular hurt. Now that you have let your hurt go, think about what you learned from that relationship? Taking what you learned what boundaries can you set/ needs you can speak that will help prevent that hurt from coming up again. (remember no guarantees here). Let’s say someone cheated on you in a past relationship and you want to let that hurt go. Maybe you learned you need 100% transparency in a relationship. Or that you will be extra sensitive if someone you are dating is running late so you will need to be clear about that from the get go.
Practice Self Compassion. Even though you have burned them or destroyed them you will still be tempted to return to the scene of the crime. So when you are tempted to pick up that watering can, practice self-compassion and remind yourself you are not your past hurt. Move forward with the lesson you learned from that hurt. Repeat as often as necessary.
I would love to hear from you in the comments: Can you relate to the concept of watering your hurts? How has it played out in your life