Hurt People Hurt People

I have harmed people I love. How can I sit with the sadness and regret and grief of that?

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

We have all harmed others. How do we allow that in? I have harmed people I love. How can I sit with the sadness and regret and grief of that?

Let’s look at it through a trauma lens. When we are afraid or feel threatened (physically or emotionally), our defensive mechanisms come into play. In varying degrees of intensity and unconsciousness, we go into fight/ flight/ freeze.

Fight comes to mind first when we think of harming someone. Fight might look like a cutting remark that shames someone into silence. It could be that something triggered an explosive anger and we raged at someone. It includes physical, verbal and emotional violence. These are often triggered in us by feeling powerless or helpless and lashing out to avoid these feelings. We are appalled and deeply regretful when we come back to consciousness and realize what we have done.

People who freeze cause harm to others in a different way. We’re checked out. Dissociated. To someone else, our freeze feels like emotional abandonment and disconnect. Freeze and flight also trigger denial. We don’t see what is happening. We harm by not protecting someone from hurt because we can’t afford to see it.

What do we do with this now? You might be experiencing an acute situation or revisiting something from the past. Regret, guilt, shame and a mix of powerful emotions and energy accompany this.

Kindness and compassion are always available and always help. Try this guided practice below to help you get in touch with your heart. Especially if you feel you don’t deserve kindness and compassion, do the practice.

Relax your body and breath and begin to work with a warm golden glow of light in the heart center that permeates your whole body. In the practice, we begin with holding ourselves in compassionate light in our own heart center then bringing in the person we have harmed and holding them in light.

This is not a time for figuring things out or forgiving ourselves or making reparations. We are not working in our cognitive mind. We are giving ourselves time to come into our body and relax and heal. We let go of any agenda, even for wanting them to heal or connect with us.

Simply hold your attention in your heart center and allow this beautiful golden light to permeate all the cells of their body and yours.

(22 min)
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


Well-being now: It feels like grief

by Lynn Fraser

Grief expert reveals how to help kids deal with Death and Grief

by Dipti Tait

Resilience: 10 Things You Can Do Right Now To Calm Yourself And Regain Clarity In The Midst Of Chaos

by Due Quach

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.