When we’ve been hurt before, we put our guard up. By doing this we make ourselves harder to love, and we experience less love in our life. This is the complete opposite of what we really want. How do we break this vicious cycle? We have to love like it’s never going to hurt. Here’s how.
1. Let the hurt heal
If you got a painful blister from a new shoe, wouldn’t you wait for it to heal before wearing that shoe again? We would wear other shoes that didn’t stress that area, so that the wound can heal. A band-aid also prevents it from hurting too much.
In the same way, if you’ve been deeply hurt by a person or a situation, take a break from it if you can. Let go of the relationship if necessary. If you cannot leave, the emotional equivalent of a band-aid is self-talk. If the hurt comes from verbal abuse, tell yourself “What he says is not the truth and it does not describe me.”
Such self-talk will protect the wound enough for it to heal. And just as you would leave the band-aid on as long as the wound was raw, you need to keep up your affirming self-talk as long as the hurt remains. If you need help, get this book and read a page a day.
2. Know your worth
You are worth more than you realise. God does not make mistakes, and he made you. Exactly as you are. If you don’t believe in God then find something else to believe in. A good belief system reinforces your worth. Search till you find that core.
Talk to friends. Go through letters and cards people have sent you over the years. Pray. Take walks in the park. Exercise. Do anything that helps you feel better about yourself. Most importantly, find somebody who believes in you and spend time with that person. We all need borrowed belief sometimes.
Keep reminding yourself that you are a beautiful person and that you matter. Because you are, and you do.
3. Love more than ever
When I was learning in-line skating, I would often lose my balance. My instinct was to pull back and slow down to avoid falling. This resulted in many bruises on my backside as I would inevitably fall backward. Finally I learned to lean forward instead. This was counter-intuitive and took many tries before I realised that this indeed prevented me from falling.
Drivers will know that the same applies to skidding. Instead of turning the wheel away from the direction of skid, you need to turn it into the skid. It may feel like suicide, but it is the best way to let the tyres grip the road and right the car again.
You have to do the same in love. Your instinct is to pull back, slow down, turn away. Yet this will worsen the situation. You have to lean forward instead, and love even more.
So love like it’s never going to hurt
Will you be hurt again? Of course. You cannot swim without getting wet. It comes with the territory. Accept this as part of life, and your fear will slowly disappear. What’s left is the love.