We have all experienced the feeling of being insulted or verbally attacked. Whether the playground jibes, a loved one lashing out. And often is can be easy to forgive and forget. However some insults, some exchanges affect us so deeply that weeks later we are still feeling the insult and the consequent pain. In these cases of verbal attack we often feel disempowered and are left speechless, ultimately leaving us emotionally vulnerable to the core.
It is easy in these situations to enter into a victim role. To play up the poor me. And it is perfectly natural when we feel attacked to feel defensive. But once the initial shock has worn off if you want to be able to move on and let it go, you need to turn your reaction into something positive. “Take that pain and turn it into wisdom.” and take the sting out of the words. In short turn it around by looking for the teachings.
Recently I experienced a verbal attack that has truly shocked me to my core. In the most unexpected of places. I place where I normally feel empowered. I was unjustifiably accused ( I won’t elaborate on the details,for politeness sake). I was left drained, shaken and feeling thoroughly disempowered. Weeks after I was still feeling the effects. The action replay. The words I should have said in my throat.And the ultimate sadness from being unjustly accused. It was horrible. However I know that everything happens for a reason. I wanted to recharge and step into my power once more. And that meant doing some digging. As I dug I discovered my role in the conflict. I unearthed insecurities that were unconsciously in play. I looked at his motivates and could see myself mirrored in those. By looking I found teachings in the situation.and even things I could work on to grow from it. I turned the deep pain into personal power. Did it resolve all my issues? No. As there will always be an element of us that will want an attacker to apologise and own their part. However it gave me a form of peace, a way to move forward and positive action within my own life.
And the best part is when I got down to it, it didn’t take me too long to sort out. So here is my guide of how to recover from an emotional, verbal attack. Next time I won’t be leaving it so long!
STEP 1 -The love letter technique
John Gray in his book ‘Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus’, gave us a technique called the love letter. This is a structured way of free writing that helps you process and understand your feelings and your desires within an argument situation. The first step to transforming pain to wisdom is too properly understand you are feeling. Why did it hurt? Why are you angry? How does it affect you and what response from the other party would resolve this for you? As far as I am aware this technique was originally created to resolve relationship conflicts. However I have found it is a great way to process any conflict.
Here is a guide the technique
STEP 2 – What was my responsibility?
It takes two to tango. In every conflict we have some part. However small, that we can take ownership of. Even when we feel unjustifiably attacked when you look back there will be in some part something that is your part or your responsibility in the situation. So in my case I discovered through the love letter technique that prior attack the other person’s presence and manner had provoked some of my insecurities. Although I was concious of these it could hvae been that the other person subconciously picked up on my vibe and reacted to that. I could have been more concious in my communications prior the attack, as the trigger for the attack was a misunderstandin through miscommunication. There is always something that is your stuff. Owning it allows us to start to look for the teaching in the incident.
STEP 3 – Why did they attack me?
Everyone knows the premise that a bully bullies because they are feeling insecure. It is the same when you are verbally attacked.
An unwarranted verbal attack can be seen as the other person projecting their fears and insecurities on to you. When I looked at my situation from the position of the other persons possible insecurities I saw clearly that to them I represent many thinks they want both professionally, and personally. The attack became more about the other person trying to make themselves feel more secure by weakening me. This part of the process really helped me detach myself emotionally from the attack. Ask yourself what about me makes them feel insecure?
Sometimes someone will attack you because of something you have done or have not done. In this situation the teaching is pretty apparant.In this case it is good to assess your actions and ask yourself why did I create this? And look for the lesson there.
STEP 4- What are the teachings ?
Through this questioning process you will have a better understanding of the whole situation. Now look for the teachings. What in this situation did you need to learn? Where is the opportunity for you to grow? Not them. You.
STEP 5 – Moving forwards
The last stage is too look forwards. Sometimes the conflict can be resolved through dialogue. Sometimes it can’t. What you can do is to choose how you move forward. How you will activate the teachings you have learnt to create personal growth. You cannot change their actions then now or in the future, However, you can change yours. Make some resolutions about how to move forwards. If miscommunication caused the attack then you could choose to work on your communication skills. If your insecurities have been highlighted you can work with them. If understanding the other person’s insecurity has given you a new sense of compassion or an understanding of where you need to set boundaries work with that.
I recommend writing this process out. It gets you out of your head, giving you the opportunity to take a step back. Gaining an objective perspective. Verbal attacks will always hurt, but they don’t have to scar. By treating them as a learning opportunity, a chance for your grow you transform your hurt in to growth, into wisdom that will serve you throughout your whole life.