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4 Simple Tips for Confronting Someone Who Hurt You

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“To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.” -Unknown

For many years I maintained a relationship that I was not happy with. I’m sure a lot of people have been there, or are there right now. I didn’t feel there was equality in the relationship; I always seemed to be the one giving, yet I consistently felt I was getting nothing out of it.

A close friend of mine asked me why I tolerated the behavior of the person in question.

As usual, a few excuses passed through my mind: the other person was going through a rough time; I felt I should be there for them; they probably wouldn’t respond to how I was feeling anyway, so I should strive to be the “better person.”

I let these excuses wear on for over a decade, until one day I realized I needed to make a change.

There was no point in silently wishing this person would be better, or hoping they would eventually acknowledge I deserved the same respect and support I gave them.

After more than 10 years without change, I wondered what on earth I was expecting. Did I think this person would suddenly have an epiphany, maybe another 10 years later? Gently, slowly, I started to realize that I had to do something I had never done.

I decided to confront them about it, without aggression or anger. The next time they treated me in a way that I thought was unacceptable, I would say something. I would let them know that they were being unfair or unkind. I wouldn’t try to sugar coat it—I would just be honest about how I felt.

The moment came and I said what I needed to say. I was willing to accept that they may never agree with me or apologize, but I had to be true to myself. I had to say something, with no expectations—just a commitment to stand up for myself when it was necessary.

“Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” ~Spencer Johnson

To my great surprise, I received an apology. I would have been okay without it—having come to the conclusion that purely standing up for my beliefs was enough for me—but the heartfelt apology made me realize how unnecessarily I had sacrificed myself and my needs. Since then, my relationship with this person has greatly improved.

I’m not suggesting that we go around telling everybody exactly what we think of them all the time; nor am I advocating generating negativity in your relationships over minor events.

What I’m saying is that if you genuinely feel wronged by somebody else, you are the person responsible for making them aware. It helps us all when we’re willing to teach each other to be better, and not shy away from it because it is painful or embarrassing.

The next time you feel you have been unfairly treated by another, take these steps to address it:

1. Think on it.

Before you confront this person, think about the situation. Have you truly been treated badly? Is there anything else that may be contributing to your emotions? Bounce the situation off a trusted friend, with no agenda other than to explore it. Take some time to understand your feelings. If you still feel the same, you are probably onto something.

2. Consider the triggers.

If you decide that you are being wronged and you wish to speak up, think about the situations and encounters with this person that tend to upset you.

What usually triggers you? How do you feel when they upset you? Do you get a sensation of feeling hot or tight in the chest? It’s important to explore this, because when you confront them you need to be prepared to do so calmly and rationally.

If you choose to speak up when you are feeling emotional, you may undermine your point. Be aware of the triggers within yourself so that you can feel them without letting them control you. The calmer you are, the less likely you are to appear irrational or melodramatic.

3. Set reasonable expectations.

Before you approach the individual, be prepared for the possibility that you will say your piece and they will disagree with you.

If you go into this with an expectation of an apology or acknowledgement of being in the wrong, you may feel like speaking your mind didn’t “work.” Remember, you are standing up for yourself to be true to yourself. That’s the important part—which means you need to be open to the potential consequences. And you need to know how you will respond if this doesn’t pan out as you’d hoped.

Be prepared, also, for new information that may make you re-consider your position. Enter the situation with an open-heart, a desire to communicate clearly, and a willing to find a resolution, if possible.

4. Choose your words carefully.

Know what you are going to say in advance. Be honest and straightforward. There’s no need to drag up previous incidents; they are not relevant here. Focus on precisely what has happened that has upset you and explain your reasoning.

Listen to their response. If they are willing to engage you on it, be open to this. Perhaps there is something for you to learn. If they respond with anger or aggression, be gentle but firm in your position. Remember, this is an opportunity to stand up for your truth. You will feel proud of yourself if you can be clear and honest, even if the outcome isn’t what you hope it will be.

Relationships can be difficult. I empathise with the pain, worry, and anxiety you may feel when communicating your needs to someone you care about. It might feel like an impossible challenge, but remember:

“Each time we face a fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.” ~Anonymous

Photo by Ing. Jose Herrera

About Raeeka

Raeeka is a kundalini yoga instructor and believer-in-you. She writes e-books and courses, creates videos, songs and more on everything from yoga to ethics, to anything-that-makes-you-smile. Her mission in life is simple – to help others be as blissful, bountiful and beautiful as they can. Join her mailing list to grab a free Yogic Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Anonymous

    Very insightful post – I’m definitely sharing.

    @HeatherEColeman:twitter 

  • http://www.heartonsleeveweakatknees.com Raeeka

    Thank you Heather, I’m glad you found it useful :]

  • http://www.heartonsleeveweakatknees.com Raeeka

    Great, congratulations :] It’s very free-ing when you don’t expect it. When it comes anyway – that’s just a wonderful bonus.

  • http://twitter.com/TammiTan Tammi

    The same thing happened to me a few months ago. After thinking it over for quite a while, I decided to calmly tell the person how I felt. I didn’t get an apology, the person became extremely defensive and subsequently the friendship ended. But it was a blessing in disguise, because as it turns out, this person had been doing some dishonest things all along.

  • Sasalool

    Great post,, nicely written
    I’m goning through the same situation and I was lost for a while and didn’t know what to do??
    I learnt this recently , that if I chose to confront this person, I should do it when I am calm and rational, and I can do this only when I don’t expect an apology or compassion from the other person, I do it only to stand up to myself
    I am in a similar relationship for the last 2 years and I just recently came to this conclusion,
    I didn’t confront this person yet but I feel I’m gonna do so soon
    Sometimes you need some time ( even if it’s years) to learn such a simple fact, but I guess it’s ok , it shows how much u care about this person, and how much struggle u feel inside before u find your peace,
    the peace of knowing that you did everything you can to show this person how much u care about him,and now it’s time to trust the other person and give him the chance to show you how much he cares about you

  • http://www.heartonsleeveweakatknees.com Raeeka

    Hi Tammi, I’m sorry to hear that but I’m glad that you were able to communicate how you felt.

  • http://www.heartonsleeveweakatknees.com Raeeka

    Good luck!

  • http://twitter.com/BeadLavada Erica Rodman

    It is definitely difficult to decide when enough is enough in terms of maintaining a relationship with someone who has hurt you in the past. I recently chose to end a friendship because I finally realized that my expectations just weren’t reasonable.

    I love how all of the posts relate so well to something real in my life. :-)

  • Hari B Kurup

    Surprise! Few days back I did something similar and explained it to a friend.

    They did apologize for some part, I wasn’t expecting any though. :)

  • Raeeka

    I’m sorry to hear that Erica, but it’s good to do that & understand your own expectations in relation to what the other person can offer.

    I’m glad you are finding it useful!

  • http://www.wiseatwork.net Susie @ Wise At Work

    Raeeka. I so liked your points about: (1) staying calm [John Gottman calls this the "soft start-up"]; (2) not dredging up past incidents;  (3) not expecting any outcomes; and (4) keeping open and curious.

    I really believe if we did more of this in all of our conversations, we might be getting closer to world peace! Thanks so much for making this content so accessible.

    Warmly.
    Susie

  • Raeeka

    So glad you found it useful Susie :]

  • Anonymous

    Another point I think is important is that we avoid telling the person WHY we think they do what they do, analyzing them or stereotyping them, e.g.: because of your mother, because you’re insecure, because you don’t respect women, etc.  First of all we don’t really know and it tends to make people more defensive and liable to reject what you are saying about your own personal experience if you turn it into a generality or a character critique. Just say what hurt you, how you felt and what you want.

  • Pingback: 4 tips for confronting someone who hurt you | Mindful girl, joyful girl.

  • http://www.heartonsleeveweakatknees.com Raeeka

    Yes, I absolutely agree. :]

  • karen

    EVEN IF THEIR  RESPONSE ISN’T POSITIVE, WHAT U HAVE SAID HAS BEEN HEARD BY THEIR SUBCONCIOUS AND AFTER THEY HAVE TIME TO DIGEST WHAT U SAID THEY MAY B MORE POSITIVE..OR NOT. EITHER WAY, U WILL HAVE MORE INFO RE THE RELATIONSHIP.

  • Srich__1

    Thank you very much for you wise words of wisdom.LOL! You nailed it! Everything that I needed to hear to further my relationship with my boyfriend, and if it doesn’t work out well at least I had my TRUTH, because I am on my last leg.

    I do give you great honor for enduring that treatment for 10 years. I have for 2 years and I’m at my wits end. You are a great woman and give you the best wishes in life. God bless you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Susan-Lang/1174363424 Susan Lang

    I looked at this page before calling my ex boss whom I had a big falling out with. While I was not perfect she really treated me badly. I guess I wanted to say my piece politely. Well, I said when I called her E___________ I would like to speak with you and she hung up on me. Never will I give her the opportunity to do that again. Sometimes confronting someone can give you peace in that knowing you tried. Later that night- last night I called and left a voicemail and basically said my piece in an honest but respectful way. I ended with giving her my phone number and saying you probably won’t call me and I am not calling you if you are going to hang up on me. I know I will never hear from her again. I am sad but I know I did what I could. It sucks when someone treats another person that way.

  • Guest

    I came across this website through a Google search, and then found this post.  I was already planning on talking to my boyfriend about why I felt hurt about something he did over the weekend (decided not to spend New Year’s Eve with me – shouldn’t you want to be with your girlfriend on New Year’s Eve??) and the wisdom and insights from others has been very helpful.  It is hard not to have expectations in a relationship.  At any rate, I’m prepared to explain why I was hurt, and ask if he is truly wanting to be in this relationship with me. 

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  • Kellie Marie4

    I recently was fired by text by my boss after posting on fb that I needed a vacation from everyone and everything and that I was tired of shitty attitudes. I did not mention names or my work. I worked there 4 yrs and have nvr been in any trouble what so ever. I was not talked too given a chance nothing just fired. I removed comment and apologized. I also filed unemployment and it’s currently pending bc they state misconduct. Im 35 single income and I’ve work since I was 14. I worked very hard took pride in and loved my job. I’m heartbroken. I thought we were like family i cant believe this has happened. Im a happy person w a positive attitude i feel wronged. I have to survive too…and if I’m denied unemployment while looking for a job im going to Be screwed even worse than I already am.

  • Thaloc

    I have to commend you, this article, for me, was one of those guiding lights we sometimes need to get on the right path. It managed to go beyond the usual self help and really get to the point of why being calm and telling the other person why they have hurt you–without expecting anything in return–is one of the strongest things we can do in our relationships, any relationship. Thank you.

  • Mara

    Hi Raeeka. I could really use your advice on this myself. I used to be friends with a guy I met during my senior year in college. During that year, we spent some time together and got very intimate. It happened a couple of times and I would let him have his way simply because I had developed deep feelings for him. Eventually, he got tired of me and decided that no communication will make me disappear. He gave me no warning, no explanations, nothing. He just stopped contacting me entirely. Every time I’d try to call him or make plans to meet, he would have an excuse. Even his friends started acting weird and distant with me. Eventually I graduated and I wanted so much to see him one last time and say good bye but he didn’t bother at all. We bumped into each other at the graduation party and made eye contact but he quickly looked away and pretended not to see me. Unfortunately for me, I boarded the plane the next morning in tears. Lord knows how many times I’ve shed tears from how used I felt and still feel. I’ve tried everything and nothing seems to help get my mind of things. I have no answers since I have never confronted him and, therefore, am finding it hard to move on. I don’t know how to confront him since I’ve tried that once before and he simply brushed it off and said I was over-thinking it. The problem here is that he doesn’t realize what he’s done. He doesn’t know how much he’s hurt me and seems to think this is not a big deal. All of this has taken a huge toll on both my self confidence and dignity. It’s been six months since this mess started and one month since I last saw him (when he avoided me). I am so confused, I do not know whether to confront him or simple “suck it up” and let it go. Moreover, I don’t know what I want to say to him if I do confront him. I am filled with pain that I can just burst. Should I simply be honest with him about how I feel and how much he’s hurt me?

  • AK

    @disqus_d0JxoYHskR:disqus hi, i can relate to what you’ve been through and i feel really bad for you since you’re still in that phase where you think one last conversation with that guy might help you.On the contrary, its going to mess you up even more since a guy like him, who finds it alright to just use people and then move on, will never bother telling you what he actually felt, or the reason why he left.But i’m sure if you keep all your emotions aside and think practically over what happened with you, it’s a simple case of you letting someone take advantage of you without having tested his sincerity.You don’t have to feel bad or wasted or worthless though, since no matter what you do, or even if you spend years with people, you’d never know what they have on their mind or what they want to extract out of you.You’d see the people closest to you change within a fraction of a second, and you’ll be left shocked.I’ve been through that and i just sat there thinking who this girl was that i had been in a relationship with for almost two years.was she the person that I had known for the past 2 years or is she the person that I just saw recently? God only knows.
    I’d suggest you to stop lingering on to the sweet things he said or the gestures that he made to make you feel like you were that one person he always wanted, easier said than done i know, but if you kept insisting on WHY, like “why did it happen to me?”, or “Why can’t he be that person in my life”…well you’re hurting yourself even more that way.AND as much as i hate to tell you this, since i hated it when people would tell me this, you experienced this for a reason and it’s probably going to prepare you for something more substantial in life.And most of all, it will take time for your your wounds to heal, you just have to learn to rely on GOD.This is one of the many ways of God to make people realize that he is around and how much they need Him.

  • Vivienne

    Is writing a letter affective, if having a confrontational discussion too intense? I’d prefer a letter and then if the reader feels they want to respond, they can call. It’s just that these discussions can be highly emotional and end in tears. It’s more important to get ones points across clearly and succinctly.

  • Surrealian

    I recently contacted a girl who I had thought was a friend of mine in my “college years”. She lived next door to a guy I had very strong feelings for and when I showed up to finally ask him out, I saw her and I immediately felt a “cattiness”. She wasn’t nice at all but did the fake smile and told me she and the guy were now dating. She made it clear (body language and her choice of words) that I better not do anything. I therefore left, and I admit I was so sad. Well, aside from that, he and I are now together and I found out that he and that girl never dated. I got the guts to try to ask her why she said that when they weren’t. I got no apology but some bs about “living in the present” and how I let my “fear” dictate my choice of not asking him out then. That’s not the case, I respect people’s relationship, so it went against my morals to approach him since she declared they were together. Also, if I had approached him, I’d have been known for “stealing him” from her. Anyways, this girl immediately admitted “dating” wasn’t the right word, but then when she asked why and I explained it, she was so rude about it. I simply wanted to know why she lied to me, when she knew how I felt about him. I accept the fact that she’s simply a b**ch and she can’t admit or own up to anything she’s done to upset or hurt someone’s feelings.

  • Debbie

    I am in this situation with a close friend of mine who I feel treated me badly a while back. When I confronted her about it I got excuses, justification for her actions, even going so far as to pschyo analysing me telling me that I am projecting my unhappiness with my life onto her and blaming her instead of my family for the situation that happened between us. I keep standing firm saying if the situation were reversed I would have never treated her that way. That is not the way friends act towards each other. She says sorry one minute and that she just wants things to go back to the way they were before this happened but then in the same breath says she refuses to admit she did anything *wrong* and has asked me to agree to disagree . That feels wrong to me as it leaves me open to it happening again. If she doesn’t get it ,that what she did was wrong in that it had a severe affect on our friendship, than how can I just say ok, everything is fine again???

  • Luanne Seaman

    I realize this is a 10 month old comment, but I really hope things worked out for you.

  • L

    what if you need that apology to continue a friendship with them? I realize it’s a mark of my own maturity but this friend was someone I once dated and he wrongly accused me of cheating on him and then went on to treat me quite poorly until I ended the relationship. As a friend, I found the relationship to lack equality and balance. I’m always helping him out but he’s never there for me. I’ve brought it to his attention repeatedly and it’s not improving. At this point I’m not as emotionally bothered but I feel extremely detached and cold towards him. And if I do feel anyhing towards him, I feel negativity towards him now and I’m not sure what to do with it.

  • http://inspire99.com/ Vinay Nagaraju

    Thank you. This is a very nice one, precise and to the point. I had always wondered how I would break it to my boss what I was feeling at the work place. Reading this article has offered me a way out and a thought as to how I can go ahead with this and try to mend things. Hopefuly I will be able to do it soon :)

    Cheers,
    Vinay

  • Naette

    I ended a friendship over a year ago and still wish to confront the person to give me some closure.I was the one who always give in our 10years friendship. She never gives and it is her principle not to give to people who have and decide to share with her. She is beautiful ,attractive,wise, intelligent ,sensible than I am. I have a very good job and she still does not odd ones and she makes comments like I find myself in a white dominated area where they only needed a minority person to show they are equal opportunity employer. Therefore ,she does not respect anyone minority who leave in my area with a good job. Her other mantra in life is tit for tat. Nothing goes bad for her without revenge.Even if she calls me and I said I’ll call her back,she pick the phone and will repeat exactly the same sentence I told her earlier on.Yet if she does not get what she wants from me ,she is always the first person to ask what she has done. and also makes suggestions like ‘maybe I have said something to you ,so let me know why you are not calling me” I found this aggressive and thinks its more of an attack than friendship.Even if she makes a nasty comments like’ I’ve been to a very posh ,classic , wedding, did you and your husband also did a weeding like this? Although is not married.
    Fast forward last year she wanted to be picked up from the train station as she was coming to my son’s party. I refused that I was busy.She did not take this kindly. She refused to help tidy up when everyone was helping and I know it was because of the lift.however, most of my friends helping me found thier ways to mine without me picking them up and she was even closer to me than they were.After that she wanted to spend the night at mine which she never asked but came with her overnight bag.She saw I was having a conversation with my husband and she did not even excuse us but just asked in the presence of my husband if she can sleep over,knowing very well that my husband was going to say yes. which he did.She only looked at me and smiled. Now I wish I had ask her to leave as it was not up to my husband to decide. My husband does not really know who she is and thinks we are best friend.My husband dropped her off at the train station the following morning. Since then, I limited my contact with her and she informed me she was pregnant when I called her. She wanted me to be her next of kin and to be honest,I mostly assist her out of pity as she really struggles.However I got fedup. I would have agreed to her request if she had asked nicely,but went like ” is there any financial implication in someone becoming a next of kin? I said i don’t think so. She said,Ok if yo say so then I am putting your name on my form as I do not want anyone to do me a favour that involves money because it is my principle not to let people use their money one me. I replied that I will have to consider other implications,so I was not comfortable with her request. She Ok. and that was it. I called her days later and she said she was busy with studies.Yet I am married, have 2 kids ,studies full time and working and she was always on the phone with me with her family and man problems. I said OK, if you are busy then late.I never heard from her again.I now feel really cheated and used and I can easily say no to me but finds it difficult to accept a no from me. What makes her think that because a request is within her acceptable principles than it should be ok with me.Why does she have principles but I should not have one? Why does she say I easily forgive and easily give but she is vindictive and still happy with my friendship? I want to ask her about the number of favours i have done for her,giving her money, allowing her in our privacy by sharing a hotel room with her and my family because she did not have money and she really wanted to travel to a wedding with us in order to meet men as she was single and desperately searching. What about renting out my garage free of charge for over a year when she had no where to keep her stuff, and could not afford to pay for storage? These and many questions keep running through my mind and I always wake up in the middle of the night as if I was sitting with her and confronting her. Do you think it is best to leave it or contact her. She would have maintain the friendship if I had agreed to being her NOK. What will happen to my work and children if I had a call that someone has happen to her? I would have to take unpaid leave, extend the nursery hours for the kids,or find a babysitter.Are all these not financial burden? I know very well that I will abandon my family, attend to her crisis and when she is better will make indirect statement like ”if you decide to spend your money on me ,it is your own problem as you confirmed there was no financial responsibilities in being a NOK so its your own stupidity. I do not want her friendship back but just to confront her on why the same way she seeks revenge was not inversely proportional to the same way she returns a good favour. I also noticed that of all her friends.I was the one she never respected yet the one she asks favours from most as well . I just don’t understand how this works.Should I meet her or send an email. I don’t mind either way.Please help.

  • Evan

    Hello Naette. I’ve read through your post and it appears that you are unfairly going through a lot of pain. I have had friends mistreat me but never to this level and I am truly sorry that this has happened to you. Yes you need to confront her, but not in the same way see seeks revenge. Avenging yourself on her will not make you happy, but instead moving on. Prepare yourself to confront her again using all the tips offered in this article. Plan what you are going to say using what you wrote here, but condense it. Shorten all your recollections of the wrongs that she has committed and focus on your feelings. If you go in there with too much anger you will be brushed off. Go in there calm and collected. Practice what you are going to say to your husband as well. And be prepared to end it all with ONE confrontation, not two or three. Whether she apologizes or not is not important. This is for you. Calmly say what you want to say, and if she rejects you, then that’s that. You will still feel better. Not right away, but you will. You’re a hardworking mother with a family and responsibilites. You can do this. Good luck and God bless :)

  • HimanshuRawat

    Hello Mara, i read your past happenings and could sense how you must be feeling.
    Look i’m a boy and i strongly support this fact. Every boy wants a confident partner.
    when she starts giving her whole time then the same time she starts losing her value.
    so i would suggest you some thoughts that may help you to move on:
    1- You have lost a person who didn’t love you and he lost a person who had given him her life. so loss is not yours.
    2- you are a lovely person so A cheater or a non- cheater boy both want a lovely gal for spending his life. So you are in demand.
    3- how badly a boy ignores her GF or treat her. At last he realizes this thing and regrets. You know you have done your part now. just wait and watch. it might take long time.
    4- there is a novel “of course i love you! till i get someone better” . i see most of the times this happens just because we get infatuated. and when this infatuation disappears over time then we start feeling irritated with that relationship.
    5- Self dignity and self esteem must be maintained. and start working on yourself to make you better and better. Just keep in mind “Being happy is the best revenge”.
    6- make yourself like that everyone needs you and demands for you. I’m telling you it will improve your condition with guarantee of 200%. But never look back.
    things once gone then do not let them enter once again in your life.
    7-Involve yourself in physical activities and hug your friends ,make new friends to shift your focus and feel better.
    8- Do not listen sad songs, give time to those who need you, attach yourself to Higher vibration( God). You know God is not a person it’s the infinite power who have tolerated much more than us and didn’t forget their karma.
    LIke Jesus, RAMA KRISHNA,MUHAMMAD SAHEB etc.Even they were not untouched by bad happening.

    You are also a part of that Infinite power. Trust in yourself and go ahead.
    Regards
    Himanshu Rawat
    himanshu_rawat99@yahoo.com

  • rania

    Agree with this article wholly. I find the hardest part is to keep standing for yourself if the become defensive and aggressive or if they become really hurt by it. Both instances bring out the guilt and i end up apologizing for being honest and feelng bad.

  • nikhath

    Hey i love one guy he is my old friend and he also like me a lot and he said he love me too,we are very happy for few days i thought to marry him when i asked him he simply said he likes me but he cant marry me i love him a lot every second i miss him a lot i dnt understand how can i convience hi some times i feel its better to go away from him but i cant do that its not possible also for me

  • vs

    I recently did this and he claims he is a changed man. I believe him, and he was very open and admitted he used to be disgusting and apologized. I was shocked, he was not defensive at all.