How to Respond

Hurt? How to Respond (What do you expect? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself)

How to respond to somebody who hurt you or made you angry is a question everybody has asked himself or herself at some point. Not only that, but you know you have regretted how you have responded to somebody at some point as well.

You know you’re “supposed” to cool off before you respond to somebody, but that is usually very hard to do. In the moment, our feelings of hurt take over and we feel the need to “say what’s on our minds.”

I’d be willing to be that you are like I was when I spent years unleashing everything I thought and felt on those who hurt me. I would think “She hurt me, and she needs to know that,” or “I need to give him a piece of my mind.”

Neither of those is something I recommend for how to respond when you are hurt. It never went well for me, and I doubt it’s ever gone well for you, if you’re honest with yourself.

How to Respond

Before I talk about how to respond when you are hurt, we need to look at what happens when we react out of hurt or anger. We feel like a victim when we are hurt. Yes, there may be some validity to us being a victim, but responding from a victim mentality is never beneficial.

When you don’t know how to respond in a healthy way and you respond from a place of hurt, you enter the Drama Cycle. You need something or somebody to rescue you. After that, you want to persecute somebody or yourself.

I have multiple posts on this topic. So, I won’t explain the Drama Triangle, also known as the Victim Triangle, in detail here. If you want to read more about the toxic cycle that happens when you respond from a place of hurt, check out the links below.

Family Dysfunction and the Victim Triangle

Unhealthy Boundaries in Relationships and the Victim Role

Over-Worked Rescuer

Persecutor Role: Blames Others When Feeling Powerless

Letting Go of Expectations

Letting go of expectations is a term that is used often, but it’s really hard to actually do. If you’re wondering why I am talking about letting go of expectations while talking about how to respond when you are hurt, just know they go hand-in-hand.

There were many times throughout my life when I didn’t know how to respond in a healthy way. That resulted in my responding in many incredibly unhealthy ways.

When I think about those times, the person who comes to my mind the most is my mom. She has hurt me more than anybody else because of her own trauma that she hasn’t healed. I have deep compassion for her because that’s a hard way to live life.

My mom said and did things that were very hurtful. From an unhealed place, I chose to respond in ways to hurt her back. I knew nothing about letting go of expectations in regard to knowing how to respond in a healthy way.

Every time I responded, I did it with the intention to hurt her. She would respond back with something hurtful or dismissive and I would continue responding with the hopes of hurting her like she hurt me.

That cycle would continue until she would stop responding or when I thought I had proved my point or hurt her to the level she hurt me. Deep sadness creeps in now just as I am thinking about the things that I said to her because those did not come from my true soul.

Does this sound familiar to you? Do you wish you knew how to stop that cycle? How would your life improve if you knew how to respond in a healthy way when you are hurt?

There are five questions you need to ask yourself before you react. Each question falls under the question, “What do you expect?”

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Respond

  1. Am I responding because I want the person to know that he or she hurt me?
  2. Do I have any hope or thoughts that my response will hurt the person?
  3. Is my response to prove my point?
  4. Are my emotions heightened right now?
  5. Am I responding from my true soul?

The reason you need to ask yourself these five questions to gain clarity for the question, “What do I expect” is that your intent is the most crucial piece in knowing how to respond or IF you should respond.

Let’s look at whether or not you are responding because you want the person to know that he or she hurt you. This one can be tricky. If you are positive that the person does not know that he or she hurt you and you want them to know, then it can be beneficial to let them now.

However, I have a word of caution for you. Before you start thinking about how to respond to let the person know you were hurt, you need to ask yourself if this person is capable of receiving that information in a healthy way.

If the answer is no, then be honest with yourself. What is the point of telling him or her that you were hurt? There isn’t one because it will only further your hurt. That’s where letting go of expectations needs to be at the forefront of your mind.

What Do You Expect

That takes us to the second question for “What do you expect.” Are you hoping that your response will hurt the person? You really have to be honest with yourself on this one.

Do you hope the person receiving your response will feel the sting of it? Are you hoping that it makes them mad or causes them to hurt the way you are hurting? Is your expectation that he or she will respond to what you throw at him or her?

If your answer to either of those is yes, then you know what you should do if you want to be in an emotionally healthy place. Responding in hopes to hurt the person or because you are wanting a response only continues the toxic cycle.

If you have found yourself in a similar cycle, I encourage you to do some inner child work because you learned that cycle in your childhood. In order to heal, you have to go back to the source of the injury. If you want to learn more about inner child work, click here.

The Need to Prove a Point

Proving a point is something I spent a ton of time and energy on throughout my teen years and pretty much all of my twenties. I felt vindicated when I fought to prove my point.

The problem with that is that I was trying to prove my point to people who had no interest in seeing where I was coming from. That was a lot of wasted energy. Can you relate?

When we don’t know how to respond in a healthy way and instead, we respond to prove a point it’s almost always fruitless. So, if you are responding to prove a point you need to consider whether or not the person is truly willing to “hear” you.

If her or she is not, then guess what you should not do? You should not waste your time and energy attempting to prove your point. It will go nowhere. Instead, find a therapist or a friend who will be able to “hear” you.

Check in with Your Emotions

The next question to ask yourself in terms of how to respond seems obvious, but it’s hard to do in the moment. Are my emotions heightened right now? If the answer is yes, you know what to do and what not to do.

That takes a lot of practice though. For me, I get a little voice telling me that I shouldn’t respond. Sometimes it’s just a faint, little whisper and I really want to ignore it when I’ve been triggered.

When you don’t know how to respond in a healthy way and your emotions are heightened, you will stay in the toxic cycle. You know the cycle.

The person said or did something that hurt you, then you respond back with something to hurt him or her. That just continues until one of you gives up and it rarely ends with a genuine apology.

Not only that, but neither of you know how to respond in a healthy way. The next time either of you are hurt by the other, you will find yourself right back in that same cycle.

Responding from Your True Soul

The final question can be tricky. Am I responding from my true soul? Often, we believe that our true soul is our personality. The problem with that is that what most people believe is their personality are the traits and behaviors they have that resulted from trauma and pain.

Before you can determine if you are responding from your true soul, you have to know what that looks and feels like. I don’t believe in “finding yourself.” Instead, I believe that you need to return to your true soul identity. That’s the pure soul you arrived with when you were conceived and entered the world.

If you struggle to know who you are at the true soul identity level, don’t let yourself go to a place of shame. From my experience, most people don’t know.

We’ve spent our lives moving farther and farther away from our true soul identities because of everything life has thrown at us. If you want to learn how to return to your true soul identity, click here for a little guidance.

Reacting versus Responding

Let’s dig into what reacting versus responding looks like when we get hurt by someone. When you react, it’s typically in the moment without much, if any, thought about what you’re truly doing or saying.

I’ve done a lot of reacting throughout my life and it was never beneficial for me and my reactions did not come from my true soul. If you are reacting versus responding, that is still a continuation of that toxic cycle I keep mentioning.

Responding on the other hand, is more conscious and requires you to think about what you are doing or saying. The thoughts usually go through your head before they are actually voiced. That is when you should turn the volume up on that little voice that is telling you that you shouldn’t respond in the way you are wanting that is not healthy.

The goal for reacting versus responding is to walk yourself through the 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Respond. If you are able to do that and teach yourself how to respond in a healthy way, your interactions with others will begin to shift towards a much healthier place.

No response is a Response

One of the biggest areas of growth I have had is to walk away without responding to somebody who has hurt me, is intending to hurt me, or is spewing anger. That is hard and takes a massive amount of strength.

We have this need to vindicate or defend ourselves. That need is what puts us in the place of reacting versus responding. We want to be able to prove that we are right, get the person to see our side, or give him or her back what was given to us.

You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again. No response is a response. Usually, it is the hardest response to have. When we get hurt, our brains and hurt hearts are firing with all of the things that we want to say and do because we got hurt.

If you do that, you may feel vindicated or proud for supposedly standing up for yourself in the moment. Also, that moment can last much beyond just a moment as well. However, you also know that your reaction was unhealthy if you decide to be honest with yourself.

Rarely, will you ever change somebody’s mind, get him or her to see how you were hurt, or to see your side of things. That means that whatever you say or do, more than likely, will be pointless. It will just leave you more frustrated and the hurt will remain.

So, save your time and energy by reminding yourself that no response is a response. Most of the time, it’s actually the healthiest response you can have.

As I said, learning how to respond in a healthy way is no easy feat. It will take time and conscious effort. You will fall back to your old ways because it’s what you’ve always done.

When that happens, have some compassion for yourself because learning how to do something in a healthy way is hard. Save this post or screen shot the 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Respond to have them handy when you need them. If you have any questions or thoughts, please comment below. I’d love to hear from you!


This site is only intended for people who are truly willing to look at themselves with an open mind and have the ability to truly be vulnerable with themselves and others. Please understand that this site is in NO WAY THERAPEUTIC ADVICE. However, this site can be very beneficial in learning the causes of your Not Good Enough Stuff. This site is not intended to provide or replace medical or psychiatric treatment. Mary Beth HIGHLY RECOMMENDS finding a licensed therapist to help you process the information from this site and all that you learn about yourself. Visit Psychology Today to find a licensed therapist in your area.

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Molly Welch

Your posts are both educational and enjoyable.