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When Someone Has Hurt You

We have all had someone hurt us.  Some of us have deep wounds going back years.  Others have had fairly secure childhoods but have been surprised by untrustworthy colleagues or friends.  Life can throw us curve balls. What do you do when you have just been thrown a curve ball?  Do you let it hit you hard on the forehead and knock you out for the remainder of the game?  It can be tempting to give into it and let it get the best of you. How do you get back on track when someone or something has derailed you from your tracks?  It is not always easy.  

I wish I could offer you "5 easy steps" to recovery!  Wouldn't that be wonderful if life's challenges could be fixed in easy steps?  I would love that.  It would make life easier and my job easier.  However, life is not that simple and solutions can be evasive.  What I can do is offer you some ideas.  

First, take a good hard look at the problem.  You cannot solve a problem you are in denial about.  Using the ostrich "stick your head in the sand" approach won't get you anywhere.  

Second, find good friends, family, or a good counselor to support you and help you through.  

Third, pursue a

by Gretchen Flores

What is this feeling?

Sometimes life is hard, discouraging, even sad.  Grief is an important process we go through in life.  Often we may be in a grieving process and not even realize it because we equate it with a death.  No one has to die for you to be going through grief.  Sometimes we lose a dream, a hope, or a relationship begins to fail.  Suddenly a direction in our life takes a turn and we feel a range of strong emotions that we cannot place.  Often we might hold onto something that we know we need to let go of and don’t even realize we cannot let go because we are avoiding the strong emotions of grief.  

The 5 classic stages of grief are:

1.  Denial- This isn’t really happening.

2.  Bargaining- If only...  or Why did God let this happen?

3.  Anger- This shouldn’t have happened, it is somebody’s fault.

4.  Sadness- Weeping and feeling the pain of loss

5.  Acceptance-  Coming to terms with the pain of loss.

Going through these stages does not need to be sequential and there is no specific time limit for each stage.  However, if you do not allow yourself to

by Gretchen Flores

Be a Better Communicator: Couples' skills

Relationships are extremely challenging.  Even people who love each other deeply will have challenges communicating sometimes.  Here is a list of barriers to help you see what may get in the way. These barriers may be in the pre-conscious states.  Realize you may need to reflect further on your thoughts and actions to identify your barriers. 

Barriers to Listening (not exhaustive):

Denial- "I am the victim.  I am not contributing to this problem."
Entitlement-   Making demands on the other, "You ought to treat me the way I expect you to."  "I expect you to fulfill my demands of special treatment."
Mistrust- "If I listen to you, you will take advantage of me."
Revenge- "I have every right to punish you because of the way you treated me."
Defensiveness- "I must argue and defend myself."

Barriers to self-expression (not exhaustive):

Conflict Phobia- adhere to the belief that "People with good relationships don't fight.  Conflict should be avoided.".
Emotophobia- "I shouldn't feel angry." The belief that anger is an unsafe emotion to have or express possibly due to imbalances in family of origin. 
Emotional Perfectionism- "I should always feel happy and loving. I should be in control of my emotions at all times."
Fear of rejection- "If I tell you how I feel, our relationship will fall apart and I will end up alone."
Passive aggression- "I will punish you with silence. I will get back at you indirectly (burn your toast, show up late, forget things important to you)."

The Problem with Matching:
Couples often will start an argument and fall into a trap called "Matching." One will raise his or her voice and the other will match it with an equally strong statement. The other raises his or her voice to defend their cause and the other will also raise their voice.  Both are saying a lot and neither is hearing what the other is saying.  Each walks away having convinced themselves they are right because they only heard their own side of the argument. 

In order to change this vicious cycle each needs to speak more calmly and listen to what their beloved is saying.  Listening and hearing your beloved doesn't mean you agree with them it just means you are trying to understand them.  If you are both trying to hear the other and let them share their feelings you are more likely to get at the root of the issue.  Most couples just want to feel understood.


Once you identify your barriers to self expression and listening it's time to learn how to be a better listener.  Dr. David Burns, MD calls his method EAR (copyright 1991/2006).

E= Empathy

In communication giving your spouse or friend a sense that you care about them comes through empathy.

1. Disarm- Find some truth in what the other is saying even if you don't completely agree with them.

2. Empathize- Try to see things from their eyes and not your own.  Reflect back what you hear they are   saying and what you think they are feeling. Give them a chance to clarify. 

For example, "I hear you saying that you think the sky is purple and that makes you feel happy."  Notice how you don't have to agree with the person to show them you heard them.  Refrain from sarcastic tone or rolling you eyes. 

3. Inquire-  Ask questions to demonstrate interest and to learn more about their perspective.

A= Assertiveness

4. I Feel Statements- Once you have spent the time needed hearing your beloved's thoughts and feelings respond with assertiveness (as opposed to aggressiveness or passivity).  If you use "You always" or "You never" statements you will put the other on the defensive and a fight will flair up again. 

"I feel _________________ when _________________." Is a good sentence structure to use.

Often couples have a small feeling vocabulary because they are so busy fighting over facts and details.  The true emotion behind what has happened gets lost. 

Basic feeling words are:  angry, sad, hurt, lonely, afraid, uncertain, frustrated, disappointed, upset, confused, happy, glad, good, proud, etc....

R= Respect

5. Stroking-  Take time to validate the other persons' feelings.  Treat them with respect and even when you feel frustrated or upset.  Try to say something positive about the other person.  For example, "I appreciate that you helped me out the other day." Or "Thank you for taking time out of what you were doing to help me." or, "I can see that you are working really hard at work, you must be really tired." or even "Thank you for listening to me!"

Make sure you take turns listening and sharing so both of you have been able to address the issue.  Healthy Relationships are not one sided. 

With these tools you will find that you can resolve your conflicts and learn to understand and appreciate each other. 

(Taken in part from David D. Burns Attitudes that Inhibit Intimacy, Therapists Toolkit, 1989/2006).

If you are interested in my seminar Foundations For Marriage.  Please contact me at if you would like me to present this seminar at your church or local library.  

by Gretchen Flores

When Forgiveness is Hard to Do


“Reaching forgiveness takes guts. It also takes wisdom, patience and imagination. It can be the most complex psychological journey you’ll ever take.”


Dare to Forgive, by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D.

Minor offenses are easy to forgive for most of us. They happen all of the time. The examples are endless; someone merges in front of you, friends show up a few minutes late, or someone borrows your book and forgets to return it. We often choose to forgive and not hold grudges for the minor things. What about the major things? They seem much harder; a neighbor steals your belongings, a loved one is killed in a careless accident, someone chooses to ruin your reputation by spreading lies, a disagreement results in insults and grudges held for years.


It’s a topic that stirs up many questions. How do we go about forgiving the big things? Why do some seem able to forgive and others proudly state they will never forgive? Is forgiveness the same as tolerating mistreatment? When is it okay to set boundaries or keep a distance? What happens when we stuff our feelings rather than truly forgive?

Choose to Forgive

Forgiveness is a complex issue filled with a wide range of potent emotions. It can be a very difficult process. It can take time to forgive even after you have chosen to. It is both a moment in time, and a lengthy process. Once forgiveness has occurred, it must continue to be chosen. A memory, a comment, a bad day can all trigger re-living the moment and going over it again and again in your head.

Forgiving just doesn’t seem fair. Justice doesn’t seem to get served. The offender walks away unscathed and unaware of the depth of pain caused. Somehow, keeping the bitterness active keeps the memory of your pain alive. The bitterness, a desire to be understood. If you forgive, doesn’t the offender walk away free?

Fantasies of revenge are common when there is bitterness. Thoughts of harm coming to the person who hurt you brings a sense of sinister satisfaction. The fantasies really don’t solve anything, but they do keep the pain alive. Possibly justice will come to them and getting to see it would be a delight. It would ease the pain. Where is the pain? In you own heart. The one who pays the price for anger and un-forgiveness is YOU.

Benefits of Forgiveness:

What are the benefits of forgiveness? There are many health benefits such as avoiding a variety of stress related health problems. Unforgiveness can cause long term psychological distress and lead to anxiety, depression, ulcers, or heart problems, to name a few.

The emotional benefits of forgiveness include peace of mind and lowered psychological distress. If you choose not to forgive, you may suffer ongoing unresolved anger that gets displaced into many other areas of your life. Some that you may not want to be affected.

I saw a woman on Oprah (Yes, I do watch her sometimes) who had forgiven the woman who had killed her child in a reckless car accident. The woman had been drunk. To the astonishment of everyone in the room she had befriended the woman who had caused her so much pain, and extended true forgiveness to her. She had shown this woman true grace and grit for choosing the path of forgiveness. Would I be able to do the same in the face of such loss? Not without a lot of prayer and help from Heaven. It always amazes me when someone forgives at that level.

How to forgive:

“It is impossible to forgive unless you first acknowledge what has hurt you.” (P. 101 The Journey Out, Anger vs. Forgiveness chapter). If you minimize your pain, or stuff your pain deep inside, then you cannot get in touch with what needs to be forgiven. We really cannot forgive, I believe, unless we truly admit to ourselves how much we are hurting and why. Writing it out, talking to a friend or counselor can help. Sometimes we feel afraid of the strength of our own emotion so we suppress it. You cannot lash out, but you can verbalize how much it hurts.

The next step involves making a decision that you want to forgive even if it is hard to do. In the words of Sarah McLeary in her book Choosing to Forgive; Learning to Love; “It’s a choice we make, and making the decision is half of the battle.” Often there is fear and uncertainty if we choose to forgive. Holding onto anger makes more sense. Forgiving doesn't feel right.

Then comes the hard part. Letting it go. Choose to lay down your grief, hurt, and fantasies of revenge, and stop wishing ill toward the person who offended you, no matter how horrible the offense. Sarah McLeary put it this way’ “Forgiving others meant that I had to give up the right I thought I had to punish those who had hurt me.”

Once you have forgiven, you need to keep laying it down. I know personally, that at any moment of any week the anger can resurface full force. You must choose to continue to lay it down and refuse to mull over resentments in your thoughts. I can feel my body’s physiology change when I start to think back on past hurts. Suddenly, I feel anxious, uneasy, my heart rate goes up and my stomach starts to turn. It is rather unpleasant.

Anyone who has truly forgiven knows that forgiveness is more for you than it is for the offender. It sets you free from the burden of carrying the pain in your heart. A burden the heart cannot handle on it's own.

I know, personally, I couldn’t do it without God’s help. I pleaded with him to help me forgive. I could not do it on my own. It was too difficult a task. I had to rely on God to help me get there. Once I had made the decision it took months before it finally clicked in. It was a moment I knew God had answered my prayers.

If you are having trouble forgiving on your own ask God to help you. Ask friends to pray for you. Talk to people who will help you along (some will help you foster resentments, so choose wisely). Keep wrestling with it until you get there. The result of freedom will be worth it.

We all need to be forgiven

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:12-13

We are able to truly forgive because we have been forgiven. We need to forgive so we can continue to receive the great and complete forgiveness that is a gift to us from Heaven. Do not forsake your gift by harboring resentment. Choose to forgive, no matter how difficult. I know you can, even if you think you cannot. I am not saying it is easy. I am saying that it is worthwhile.


Some books may also help you:

Dare to Forgive, by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D.

Choosing to Forgive; Learning to Love, by Sarah McLeary

The Journey Out (Anger vs. Forgiveness Chapter), by Gretchen Flores, LCPC

Blessings, Gretchen



by Gretchen Flores