While I do not have a degree in psychology, in the last 33 years I have raised 10 kids, which means I have a lot of “field experience.” Wouldn’t you say? (I mean along with experience as a cook, cleaning lady, chauffeur, educator, social recreation director, event planner, arbitrator, nurse, doctor, etc.)
Over the years various ones of my children have come to me at one time or another and expressed their hurt over what an acquaintance or friend has said to them.
The first thing I do (after I give them appropriate hugs, sympathy, and words of comfort) is point out that the first lesson that they can learn from this hurtful experience is to not ever treat others in the same way, as they know how much it hurts.
The second thing that I point out is that they need to forgive this person, whether or not this person deserves to be forgiven, because God commands us to forgive others, since He forgives us so much. They don’t have to feel forgiveness, they only have to choose to forgive.
When we have covered those things, I tell them that “hurting people hurt people.” People that feel bad about themselves, insecure, who have had people hurt them in some way, hurt others.
So when they are hurt because of someone who is hurting, they can 1) know that it is often not personal; it is the other person who has a problem, and 2) have compassion that this person has some hurts, so we can 3) pray for them, and 4) treat them in a kinder manner than they (my child) have been treated.
People who are healthy inside, people who know they are loved and are at peace with who they are, have no need to hurt others.
True, some people say hurtful things out of sheer ignorance or insensitivity – my children have sometimes been dumbfounded as they have witnessed such things as a thin teenager telling a heavier teenager that she, herself, (the thin one) is so fat. How is that supposed to make the not-quite-so-thin teenager feel? Or someone making a racial/ethnic/religious comment to someone of that race/ethnicity/religion.
I have found that my children have been somewhat helped by learning that hurting people hurt people and we can actually look on them with compassion. Yes, it still hurts. And I do give my children my sympathy.
But they (and we) don’t have to let those darts sink in. And we can be diligent to guard our own words and not be a person that hurts others, but rather a person that brings healing, speaking words that give life and encouragement.
Proverbs 12:18 “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”