If you were severely or chronically emotionally wounded in childhood or later life, you may fear “wounding” others if you say no, turn down advice, refuse to be their only support, or simply desire to focus on yourself rather than on them. Many disregulated eaters abuse food (and themselves) rather than hurt another person’s feelings. Hurting someone’s feelings is not a comfortable thing to do, but when appropriate, it is an essential life skill for quality mental health.
Even in healthy relationships, it sometimes happens that remarks will be said or actions taken that hurt. We’ve all been on the giving or receiving end of moments like these because we’re human. In unhealthy relationships, however, your heart may get stomped on regularly. In this case, it’s necessary to gently let someone know that they’re hurting you. If they do not get the gentle reminder, be more direct. If they don’t get that message, either they don’t care that they’re hurting you or are unable to control themselves. Whatever their reason, you will continue to get hurt.
Use your emotions and judgment to assess the situation when you feel wounded by others. Take time to understand if you’re being oversensitive or if the other person is in some way diminishing you. Interpersonal relationships are not based on science, but on the art of intimacy, so you will have to feel your way along in them. My motto is that if someone has to hurt emotionally, I don’t want it to be me. If I can honestly say that a person is wounding me for no good reason, I have no choice but to hurt their feelings in order that they stop hurting mine. Yes, it sounds cruel and mean, but is this behavior any worse than allowing someone to hurt you?
The only way to avoid wounding is to not interact with people. The general unspoken contract for healthy intimacy is that you won’t intentionally, repeatedly wound someone. This means that you’re allowed to take care of yourself and that in every close relationship, there will be wounding on both sides. Many narcissists have no idea they’re hurting you, and you have to practically whack them over the head with a two by four to get the point across that they’re taking up too much of your time, being offensive, or violating boundaries. Over time, you’ll see that others can tolerate being wounded (though they may never like it) and that you can tolerate hurting them as a way of self-care. You’ll also discover how speaking up diminishes your urge to abuse food. Nor do you have to punish yourself with food if you do hurt someone’s feelings. Focus on reminding yourself that you deserve to be surrounded by love and kindness.