There are two kinds of hurt: self-pitying hurt and sad hurt. Self-pitying hurt is the kind of hurt we feel on purpose, so that we’ll have a good excuse to wallow in self-pity. Whenever we are self-righteously indignant at someone else’s behavior, we are indulging in self-pitying hurt. We seek self-pitying hurt when we expect or demand something from another person which that person is not offering freely. Whenever we believe that other people (e.g. our parents, spouse, or children) owe us anything; whenever we try to bribe, wheedle, or coerce other people; to try to make them feel guilty if they don’t come across for us; to impose our own desires on them beyond what they are comfortable with; then what we are actually seeking from them is their rejection, which we can conveniently blame on them.

Whenever we make our happiness depend on something which someone else does or doesn’t do, we are just asking that person to hurt us. This kind of hurt is easily avoided by being respectful of other people’s space: their limits, their right to have feelings of their own, including the right to reject us, if they so desire, without our resenting, denying it, or taking it as a personal affront.

Where self-pitying hurt is the natural consequence of possessive love, sad hurt is the doorway to true love. Sad hurt is the hurt which other people make us feel in spite of our having reached out to them joyously and in good faith. Sad hurt is puzzling hurt (as opposed to self-righteous hurt). Where self-pitying hurt can easily be avoided by listening to and respecting other people’s feelings, sad hurt is unavoidable – it’s part and parcel of the human condition. Sad hurt is the hurt which other people lay on us purposely – the product of their self-hatred which they project onto us as scapegoats. Sad hurt is the hurt we feel when other people are just using us as an excuse to pity themselves.

This kind of hurt seems very unjust and unfair; and it is unjust and unfair. Although it is a meager consolation, this kind of “unmerited” hurt is indeed the result of karma that we ourselves set into motion in other lifetimes and realities. If we feel that it is unjust that we should have to suffer now for sins committed in other lifetimes, that’s too bad; but it’s life, and there’s no use complaining about it. Complaining is what turns it into self-pitying hurt.

When other people try purposely to hurt us, it hurts. There’s no use pretending that it doesn’t hurt, or getting angry at them in return. Those responses (apathy or anger) cover our feelings of sad hurt – keep us from feeling the hurt directly by substituting thought forms of self-pity for the direct perception of pain. These are our protections (closing up or striking back) when other people deliberately try to hurt us, and they are effective blocks against the feeling of sad hurt. However, they also block out the feeling of true love.

If we’re going to be open to other people’s love, we have to be open to their hurt as well. Vulnerability is not a door that can be opened and closed selectively, to let some feelings through and not others. To protect ourselves from feeling hurt is to prevent ourselves from feeling love.

When the crowd taunted and crucified Jesus, he felt deeply, deeply hurt. He felt exactly the same way we would feel if there was a crowd of people taunting us and pouring their self-hatred upon us, and we had done nothing to deserve it. Jesus was not such an exalted being that he no longer had a capacity to feel hurt. On the contrary, he was an exalted being precisely because he let himself feel the hurt directly, instead of blocking his pain with self-pity (apathy or anger).

No matter how enlightened we may become, we never get to a place where hurt no longer hurts. There’s no way that hurt ever does anything except feel BAD. But if someone hurts us and we let ourselves feel the hurt directly, then that’s that; that’s the way the cookie crumbles. We feel bad for a little while, and then the feeling passes and we go on to something else.

But if we are afraid to feel hurt directly; if we reject the feeling of hurt by substituting apathy or anger for it, by trying to dominate or control relationships, by rolling over and playing the victim right off the top, or by avoiding intimacy altogether; then we are in fact grabbing onto our hurt, hugging it to our bosoms, and making it the centerpiece of all our relationships. And all there can ever be is hurt, because we leave no room for love to get in anywhere – we’ve got every chink stuffed.

Apathy and anger aren’t really painkillers, they’re just pain deferrers. All they do is postpone the pain. The only way to really get through pain, to get over it and past it, is by feeling it directly. Of course, this is the last thing which people who are in pain want to hear: “Haven’t I suffered enough?” they ask. “And it’s not even my fault!” But the truth is that the amount of pain which people feel (or repress into apathy or anger) is the precise amount of pain which they must yet feel to disentangle themselves from it and put the pain behind them.

This is because pain is not something which is external (imposed from without), but rather arises from within ourselves. The external situation which causes pain is but a symbol for something going on inside us on an emotional level. To consider our pain as something detached from ourselves is to refuse responsibility for our pain. To blame someone else for our pain, to try to make someone else take responsibility for feeling our pain, is futile. Only by feeling our pain directly, looking within ourselves for the source of our pain, are we taking responsibility for it, and thereby putting ourselves in a position to move beyond it. We do this by finding a way to heal our own wounds, instead of expecting or demanding other people to heal them for us. Other people can’t heal us; they’re in too much pain themselves to have any extra love to spare. We have to be willing to take complete responsibility for our own healing.

Go back in your mind’s eye to every scene in your life when you were hurt by other people. You do this like a normal daydream or fantasy, but instead of trying to capture a feeling of glory, vindication, self-righteousness, etc. (as is done in normal daydreaming), you try to capture the feeling of hurt that you felt at that time. Watch the scene of that person who is you being rejected and needing love, and give love to that person. Talk to the you in the visualization, call to him or her: “There, there, cheer up! You may have been rejected, but you’re still a worthwhile person. You’ll go on living and breathing, and in time you’ll find true love. After all, I love you. I really do!”

Say this using your own words and sentiments, and mean what you say. Give yourself all the sympathy and compassion that you were denied at that time. Let yourself feel sad for that person who is you. And when you let yourself feel sad for yourself, you’ll also find yourself feeling sad for the people who hurt you.

Sad hurt implies forgiveness – the sadness is as much for those who hurt us as it is for ourselves. Sadness, not anger, is the true feeling we share with the people who hurt us. Anger separates us from them, whereas sadness unites us to them – we are one with them in sadness.

This visualization is not so different from what we do when we indulge ourselves in angry fantasies of the people who have hurt us – telling them off, or delighting when they feel remorse for what they’ve done to us. But instead of using the visualization to stoke our self-pity, we use it to heal ourselves by feeling good about who we are.

To be able to love others and to freely receive their love in return, we have to be ready to be rejected and hurt by them. We have to be willing to face this directly, instead of preparing ourselves in advance, bracing ourselves, taking out insurance in advance against hurt. We have to be able to forgive people for the bad things they do to us rather than get into a tizzy about it – forgive them because they don’t know what they’re doing.

Of course, this is a lot easier said than done, but the key to it is being willing to feel hurt: not angry and vindictive, not blithely pretending we’re not hurt, not bitterly wallowing in self-pity over past hurt, not setting up ground rules and strictures in relationships to guard against the possibility of future hurt; but just plain old feel hurt. If we can truly open ourselves up to hurt, then we’ll automatically open ourselves up to love.

(excerpted from Magical Living. Copyright © 2001 by Bob Makransky. All rights reserved.)

Author's Bio: 

Bob Makransky is a systems analyst, programmer, and professional astrologer. For the past 30 years he has lived on a farm in highland Guatemala where he is a Mayan priest and is head of the local blueberry growers association. His website is: To subscribe to Bob’s free monthly astro-magical e-zine for intelligent, thoughtful people seeking something deeper than the usual New Age fare, send an e-mail to: