Why Hurt People Lash out at Their Helpers
When we see people suffering with powerful sadness or grief, we can be quite strongly affected. When we experience this, it’s natural to want to help; to treat them gently, to be kind to them and offer them support. It can be really surprising to us when, rather than being comforted, sometimes hurt people lash out.
It's natural to want to help
It is a natural human thing to want to help people in distress. Society has seemingly evolved to keep the group together when one of the group is suffering; often it's entirely automatic. At other times, it's something that can take a bit of effort. This is especially true especially when the other person isn't very well known to us or is a complete stranger.
When in pain, hurt people lash out
Because we only – hopefully – experience such profound pain rarely, when we do our normal coping mechanisms break down and we often just don't know how to handle it. We can't think straight, we can't do what we can normally do – all we can think about is the pain we are in. Often, we can't even express the depth and level of our pain; all we can do is show it through uncontrolled outward distress.
Showing our pain
In such a state, sometimes the kind words of another person don't really touch us and make us feel less alone; they only demonstrate to us the gulf between our raw, awful feelings and the helper's normal life. When things are this bad, sometimes the only thing we can do to make another person really understand is to make them feel as bad as we do.
Helping you with your unbearable feelings
Psychotherapy can help you learn how to deal with your strong feelings so they don't overwhelm you and they don't overwhelm other people. Psychotherapists are trained to deal with the strong feelings of other people and to remain steady in the face of all you can throw at them. They are prepared to go into the strong feelings with you, and help you work through them.
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– Tim Hill
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