Emotional hurts at work are normal, but is there another way?

Emotional hurts are a part of all our lives. Parents will often be heard saying that they want to protect their children from the hurts of the world, and put them on a path that does not repeat their own so-called mistakes.

But the hurts of life find us all, whether it be a seemingly small situation like being dismissed or overlooked by a colleague or friend, or perhaps the desperate hurt of being rejected by a partner, or losing a loved one. Being hurt is a potential for us all every day – the mechanics of the world and the workplace guarantee that – and for many of us we are at the mercy of those potential hurts, simply hoping they do not occur, to us, on that day. But no matter how you look at it there will be times when a circumstance at work hurts.

Is this seemingly depressing situation worth even writing about if it is such a given? Well, before we look at that, let’s consider what hurts cause in the workplace. Consider a meeting of a few colleagues where for whatever reason one is harsh to another. The person being poorly treated could be hurt, or at least put out, miffed or maligned. Let’s imagine they are hurt, but as many do, that person covers their hurts (how many at work are willing to show their hurts?) and gets on with the day. The covered hurt is still a hurt, and as the day and potentially weeks, months and yes, even years go on, the hurt is there, covered with what could be many layers, but still there.

The hurt lives on in the life of this person and for all intents may never be seen again, but given it is unaddressed, it lives within like a silent guard, waiting for the next encounter of potential hurt to stand to attention and defend at all costs.

It is akin to the unaddressed hurts forming a kind of army, so that when a new one comes to the fore, the army is there ready to fight, without the person even really being aware the army exists.

Imagine that person a month later is at another meeting with the same group, and for some unknown reason becomes agitated or angry at the original so-called perpetrator, seemingly out of nowhere. But we now know it is not out of nowhere for the hurt has been waiting, and to protect itself from being prodded, poked or inflamed will defend to ensure it is left in its quiet comfort, stored away where no one can see it. That reaction against the other may then even create a hurt within that person, and so now we have two hurts being covered, both waiting for another event in the future where they may need to defend again, or even avoid the person altogether, for in many minds the best way to avoid a hurt is clearly to:

  1. never see the person
  2. never speak to the person
  3. speak badly of them to everyone possible so no matter what they do in the future you cannot be hurt again.

Multiply this situation by a thousand meetings, or a thousand emails, a thousand unhappy customers or stressed and disgruntled patients, and the world of hurts becomes a world of hurt for all of us.

But sadly it gets worse: what about how someone is when they arrive at work on any particular day? What if they have argued with their spouse that morning before work and arrive hurt from that situation? When they arrive at work is it them that is speaking, or is it their hurt?

But it gets worse again: what if the hurts a person has been living with are so overwhelming, they go home to a bottle of wine or a giant tub of ice cream to ‘reward and comfort themselves’ and so the next day arrive at work grumpy from a hangover caused not only by the alcohol, but also the food? One grumpy manager can inflict a whole lot of hurts.

Having pondered all of this for just a moment, is it any wonder our workplaces are often callous, disharmonious, certainly unloving, and at their worst downright horrible? So what is to be done, if anything?

First and foremost, just recognising that people do become hurt, in a myriad of ways, will support in understanding seemingly non-coherent behaviour. If someone is behaving out of character, this understanding, even if you may not know the root cause, can allow the person the space to return to their own steady state.

The reflection of a steady person to someone dealing with their hurts is invaluable.

The workplace is a veritable minefield of potential hurts, but this needn’t mean the hurt bombs go off. It just means that for every one person who recognises we work in that potential emotional minefield and steadily works through the abundant space around the bombs, the minefield becomes less and less relevant. The space around the bombs is created by our steadiness, which comes from our connection within, and from the way we live and care for ourselves.

Next, begin the path of working on your own hurts. There is a secret here that is actually not a secret at all, and can support us all in this personal path of resolving our hurts.

You are not your hurts.
Let me say that again…
You are not your hurts.

The hurt that occurs is certainly real when it occurs, and not to be diminished or ignored, but within each hurt lies the clues of understanding, and of root cause. Put the observation magnifying glass on a hurt, and the web of creation of that hurt can be undone when one starts with knowing a hurt is a reaction in the body, rather than a wound that can never be healed.

Hurts are born of many things including expectations, of pictures of how life should be, of behaviour that is not acceptable against one another, and of sensitivity that is often crushed by the working world we live in. Knowing that your hurts can be healed is a great first step in dealing with them.

Lastly you can use one of your greatest assets in the workplace, which is the power of observation. Working requires you to give it your all, no matter what your role. But giving it your all does not mean losing yourself and/ or your steadiness. Serge Benhayon offered the world in 2009 that it is imperative to “Observe and not absorb”[1]. Through observation there is an ability to see but not enjoin that which is around you.

As an example, at a store recently I heard as I entered what could only be described as a wailing from the back of the store. Someone was clearly extremely distressed and expressing it so. I entered the store, observed the situation through the sound, and without seeing what was happening, continued to look at the goods I had come to purchase. Another assistant began helping me, and after a few moments, I gently asked, “Is she okay”? The answer came back that a relative had just passed away, and that the store manager was on her way to support the young lady. We spoke for a few moments about the shock of someone passing, and how difficult it was to receive that information at work in a retail store, with shoppers continuing to stream in.

Through observation we all have a choice to remain steady in the face of that which is anything but steady; to not pretend it is not happening, and when the opportunity arises, to support. In this example, the support that was offered was for the other assistant in the store, who was clearly at odds in how to handle her own job while her colleague was in such distress. The steadiness in each of us innately is observed by many around us, regardless of whether they say it is so.

Steadiness and observation is something that is developed over time through developing the core within ourselves as a living expression of who we are. This is not anything fluffy, but a very purposeful way of living that grows day by day, allowing each of us to be a reflection to those around us that the sensitivity we have is actually our strength, and the chaotic world we live in at work need not be what goes on inside our bodies.

The working world we each live in offers us a daily opportunity to grow and develop as people within what is a microcosm of the world, right before our very eyes. So work is not just a place for work per se, but also a place for personal evolution on a daily basis.

When work hurts, it doesn't necessarily have to floor us, or our colleagues, but becomes simply a way to learn and then know ourselves more deeply.


  • [1]

    Serge Benhayon Esoteric & Exoteric Philosophy, ed 1, p 20

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EmotionsHurtWork stress

  • By Heather Pope, Corporate Executive

  • Photography: Dean Whitling, Brisbane based photographer and film maker of 13 years.

    Dean shoots photos and videos for corporate portraits, architecture, products, events, marketing material, advertising & website content. Dean's philosophy - create photos and videos that have magic about them.