How easily wounded are you by people’s hurtful words?

01 May 2024

Have you ever thought about how easily you are wounded by people’s hurtful words? If so, have you put that down to you being guilty as charged, by a Narcissist, of being “too sensitive”? If that sounds like you, I am hoping that this will post transform the way that you react to people’s hurtful words.

As the old proverb did not say: “Sticks and stones will break my bones and words can and do immeasurable, invisible damage.”

Almost all survivors of narcissistic abuse need to perform a total rethink about the power of words. We have been taught – mostly by people some way along the abusive spectrum – that their words are not a big deal.  They argue that we we should be able to brush them off.  (Even though this is yet another of those cases where there is one law for you and quite another for them.)

As I write this, I can’t help thinking about my little Shih Tzu. Bazyl K made an early, shrewd career move not to understand any English. if I want to communicate with him, the responsibility is all on me. Either he will deem my communication sufficiently pleasant and beneficial to respond to or else… he will work the Shih Tzu deaf ear and side eye.

If only those of us who have been through narcissistic abuse had been able to claim as much freedom for ourselves!

You should not have to manage abuse

Instead, you learn in a narcissistic family of origin – and then learn again, even more deeply, with a narcissistic partner –  that the responsibility lies with us to try to manage whatever message a Narcissist sends our way. No matter how hurtful it is.

You should not have to manage other people’s abuse. But, as you already know, Narcissists are pastmasters of intimidation.

That leaves you with quite the predicament: you have no right to respond appropriately to the message and, at the same time, you have no protection from the pain it inflicts on you.

Of course you are wounded by the hurtful words of people who were meant to love you.  That doesn’t make you “too sensitive”, that makes them “too hurtful” and abusive.

When people say hurtful things to you and refuse to take responsibility for the pain that they inflict on you that is a problem for you.

But it is not the problem that you perceive it to be.

The question to ask yourself

If you are going to ask yourself a question that question should be not “what is wrong with me?” but “what is wrong with them?”

What does the kind of linguistic brutality that they engage in tell you about them?

Let’s be clear here, you are very good at taking accountability for your own behavior. Nobody could fault you on that. And you have every reason to ask as much of other people. So, please, don’t imagine that you are somehow to blame for the way that they choose to express themselves.

Narcissists tend to make things appear a lot more complicated than they really are. They do that to disorient you and make you lose sight of the obvious.

Mostly, they do this so that you won’t notice how much unnecessary nastiness they are injecting into the relationship.

So, if you are easily wounded there are a few of things that you really need to keep at the front of your mind:

3 things to keep in mind

  1. You don’t do well with hurtful comments. As a caring, sensitive being you do not do well with hurtful comments. That is simply a fact of life. You don’t have a habit of making them to other people and you don’t like other people making them to you. That is a perfectly reasonable, honorable position to take.  Your feelings deserve to be protected – by you, first and foremost
  2. There is no need for hurtful words. There really is no place for hurtful comments in a constructive relationship.  Suppose someone would like to draw your attention to something that does not sit well with them. If they would – sincerely – like you to change it, then the most effective way of achieving that would be to couch their message in constructive language.
    The more likely you are to be triggered by harsh words, the less likely you are to be able to implement the change that they desire. But Narcissists are concerned with venting their spleen, not with improving the relationship, hence their purely negative focus.
  3. Hurtful words tell you very much more about the person who utters them than the person who is forced to listen to them. If they get a kick out of speaking to you that way and you don’t do well with hurtful comments, you have to acknowledge that you are in a relationship that is not working for you. Although it is working for them – albeit in a perverse way.

Take the learning

In light of all of this, you could continue to feel bad and blame yourself because you are easily wounded by a Narcissist’s hurtful words.

But equally, you could take the learning, accept that there are irreconcilable differences between the way that you and the Narcissist choose to live.

Do you have to see that incompatibility as your failure?

You can if you choose to.

But why would you?

You could just as easily show respect for their (deplorable) choices and your own wellbeing and switch your focus to creating and implementing a good exit plan from Narc World.

You won’t be routinely wounded once you around decent people. Instead, you will be happy and at peace.

What has a Narcissist ever done for you that you should be prepared to settle for being consistently wounded and diminished by them for the sole “pleasure” of huddling in a corner of their lives?

Narcissists are absolutely right that you are too sensitive ever to feel at peace anywhere around them. But that’s only because you can’t be comfortable with a massive irritant at the heart of your life.

That’s only natural, after all.

You are not an oyster and they are not the piece of grit that you have to transform into a pearl. Better to cut them lose so they can be someone else’s piece of grit.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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