fbpx

A Shocking Response You Can Give When Someone Lashes Out at You

(NOTE – if you are dealing with someone who has serious anger issues and incidents where it is more than just someone “venting”, please refer to the bottom of this article.) 

When someone is upset and in pain, it’s easy for those strong emotions to come flying out of their mouth as words.

Those words can hurt the people around them.

Whoever happens to be in the firing line is going to suffer the consequences. The consequences of their inability to process their upset/pain in a healthy way.

Most times people don't intend to lash out. It just happens.

I’m sure you can recall a time when you got into this state and took your frustrations out on someone else.

The next time someone lashes out at you, firing unwarranted hurtful words, looks or actions, take a moment to remember that it's from their own upset and pain they are doing this.

Remember what it feels like to be in that situation yourself. Have a little empathy. That self-awareness and understanding is what will stop the situation from escalating.

When Someone Lashes Out, What do They Most Need?

Love and understanding.

Who is the person right there in the firing line? Who is being hurt by their words, looks or actions? Who can now be the person to give them that love?

You.

What would stop you from expressing love and understanding to this person who is clearly in upset and pain?

You and your choices.

You can sink into the situation and become unconscious and also stuck in pain. You will therefore feed their pain, which further feeds your own pain (vicious cycle!). Or you can rise above it with conscious awareness and realize this is not about you.

“When you say something unkind, when you do something in retaliation, your anger increases. You make the other person suffer, and they try hard to say or do something back to make you suffer, and get relief from their suffering. That is how conflict escalates.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Why What Others Say & Do is NOT About You

When someone lashes out at you, what can you do that will make a difference?

There are two effective strategies you can use.

At a minimum use strategy #1, and if you're up for being a real game-changer, you can go further and also use strategy #2!

Strategy 1. Non-Reaction

Be passive.

Do not react.

Do not retaliate.

Do not fire back pain and hurt at them to counter the pain and hurt you feel. Break the  cycle. Be peaceful in the face of the pain (see these 13 practical steps for practising peaceful response in the face of any painful trigger).

Realize it is not about you. Realize that anyone in pain and upset needs love and understanding.

You may choose to say nothing and do nothing. Non-participation is often enough to break the cycle because by not giving a negative response, their negative energy has nothing to feed on.

Don't fan the flames of their raging fire! Non-reaction is your best choice.

Strategy 2. Love & Understanding

You may choose to go one step further than non-participation and being passive. You may also express love and understanding.

You may say any of the following things, or similar, depending on the situation:

  • I understand where you are coming from.
  • I understand you are upset.
  • I understand you are in pain.
  • I understand you are frustrated.
  • Is there anything I can do to help you?
  • I love you.
  • I hear you.
  • I appreciate how you are feeling.
  • Thank you for sharing how you feel.

Confession

I wrote this post because this morning I was upset. Very upset.

My computer and mouse were both misbehaving and the internet kept cutting out as I was trying to finish a piece of work.

For ten minutes I fell into unconscious reaction about it all, and the person in the firing line was my husband.

My pain and upset came out toward him. It was not about him at all. And how did he respond?

He modeled consciousness. He did not react.

He left the house. He returned an hour later and…

A Shocking Response

He came bearing gifts. A new mouse for my computer and five roses.

How could I stay in pain and upset in this moment. It was impossible.

This is the shocking response you can give when someone projects their pain onto you. Shock them with your love and understanding.

It is the only way that will break the cycle – be it a long running cycle of pain or a momentary lapse into upset.

I highly recommend you watch this short clip on Compassionate Listening from Thich Nhat Hanh, for how to respond when someone vents at you.

Shift your perspective and your experience of life will shift as a result. Give this gift to yourself and to everyone in your life.

Dealing with a Difficult Relationship?

Every relationship is unique and has its own set of challenges. If you are having difficulties, are stuck and don't know what to do, then join me for a private coaching session. We will pinpoint areas for change and make a practical action plan to help you move forward in a positive, powerful and conscious way.

Book your Transformation Life Coaching session with me now. Available globally, schedule a date & time that suits you during booking. Special discounted price for your first session.

If someone fires hurtful words at you, remember it's from their own pain they are doing this. Love & silence is a healing response.Click To Tweet

More Tips for Dealing with Difficult People & Relationship Issues

To share your thoughts, questions or experiences, please leave a comment below.

With love, Bernadette

Disclaimer: Dealing with Violence / Abuse?

If you have visited this article because you are being subjected to violence or abuse of any kind (physically, mentally or emotionally), please see below.
  • This article is intended for people who have experienced one-off or infrequent issues with another person, where another person has been venting and has blurted out upset.
  • There is a significant difference between this type of infrequent hurtful encounter where angry words are exchanged (in an otherwise relatively healthy relationship), versus a situation where someone is subjected to regular bouts of abusive language and behavior, or any type of violence (one-off or repeated).
  • If you are in a serious situation dealing with someone else's anger, lashing out, abuse or violence of any kind, please seek support. Talking to someone you trust is a good starting point – either a loved one or a professional. Help is available to you no matter where you live. Often there are free helplines and community services in place to support people in these situations.

An Email A Day To Brighten Your Way

Sign up now for everything you need to unleash your life! You’ll get my popular 400 Powerfully Positive Affirmations Audio download FREE to get started, plus regular inspiring emails, other resources and actionable tools to help you stay on track with mastering your mind, living consciously and soul-aligned.
Your privacy is our priority. See here for our Privacy Policy and Terms.

Comments

60 Responses

  1. My sister (2 1/2 yrs younger) has for all of our adult lives (we are early 50s) taken all her frustrations out on me. She did it when we where younger. She always blamed me for anything that went wrong with any of the men she dated. (She dated quite a few in younger years.) Also, back then any man I was interested in she would try to “take away” from me… even if I didn’t really want anything but friendship with him. (some of the men told me this back then) She ‘s been married for 23 years. Her husband is an officer. They have an income of around ~~ anywhere from $8000 to $11,000 per month depending on how much overtime he works. ($3000 of that is her disability pay as she never made it through boot camp in the army and gets full VA). Recently I lost my husband 5 months ago. (He and I lived the last 7 years off $1700 per month as he became disabled and I took care of him all that time.) I have been grieving and struggling each moment to not give in to all the pain, loss, etc. Within a month of him passing she (sister) told me I should get over it and and just go on with my life… That she doesn’t have anything more than me … I need to get over my grief and stop being down and make a new life for myself. (I have talked to her about it all (grief/loss/hurt) but I have not laid at her house, or talked everyday to her… etc.) That hurt me so badly. She has a LIVING husband, they have a brick home, new vehicles, savings accounts, he can make almost unlimited income working overtime, etc. Yet, she has ALWAYS has seemed jealous of me through the years. My husband and I had many difficulties in our relationship but stuck with each other. We have an old mobile home, no savings, no new vehicles, etc. For years she (sister) has told everyone HOW BAD her life is… how her husband never does anything around the house, how she has to do it all, etc. ( I told her to hire someone to mow her grass and do the outside work and she could just do the inside work, dusting, vaccuming, laundery, etc… Her reply to this was “I can’t do all that inside this house, there’s 3 people living her now. (~~ she recently got custody of a minor child in the family) Recently she’s been very upset her husband and taking it all out on me. She sent me like 30 screens of hateful ugly text, telling me basically how bad I am, how I don’t care, how I think I have the answer for everyone, how she takes up for me to everyone (I really don’t know who everyone is as I never see any of our family… the two older sisters, etc. and our parents are gone) In reality I have always defended her and took up for her all the way back to school but she doesn’t even KNOW this. In high school to keep a girl from fighting her, when she burned a mobile home and the investigator wanted me to go to court with him, and I refused as I told him I only had my opinion no proof, and if he didn’t have proof to leave her alone, etc. etc. etc… She’s done a lot of hurt and wrong to me through the years and yet, she can have the kindest heart and we can be close until she gets on her “fits”. I’m hurt and so tired of her doing me this way. I could not believe she told me she didn’t have anymore than me and I needed to just get over my husband dying. (this was nearly unforgivable) No I’m not perfect, but I’m not at all like she’s saying. She’s basically talked behind my my husband an my backs also to others before in years gone by. Another reason I’ve been “out of the sister group” in years gone by with she and two other sisters is because they have did not legal things for money before such as burning the trailer for insurance many years ago, etc.) They could talk among themselves if I wasn’t there, etc.
    I also never ran with different men a lot, never tried drugs, etc. I mean all my life I have tried to “fit in” with my 3 sisters and I just don’t care to “fit in” anymore. I’m struggling daily to get over all the pain of the last 6 months of losing my husband and I’m trying to rebuild a life for myself. (all that’s kept me going a lot of times are my pets and the Bible verse “whatsoever things are good, whatsoever things are lovely, think upon these things…”

    1. Thank you for sharing and my deepest sympathies to you with the transitioning of your husband. I hear your pain and grief, and acknowledge you. Grief is so immense and it takes much time to process and heal from the loss of a dear loved one. No one can put a timeframe on this at all. We must feel to heal, and grief has many stages we go through. I have shared a link below to a free online class I did a few years ago with a friend who is also a coach, where we both shared support for processing grief, as we have both been through that and wanted to help others. I hope in some way the class may be helpful to you at this difficult time.
      https://www.thedailypositive.com/free-online-class-dealing-with-grief-death/
      As for the way your sister has treated you, I hear how much pain that has caused you. You deserve to be treated well and sometimes we have to lay down new boundaries, to care for ourselves. It’s not necessarily easy putting in place new boundaries, shifting communication, stepping back etc after years of the same pattern, but trust your own intuition about what you need, what does and doesn’t work. If you were to set up a new path going forward, honoring how you feel, see what intuitively what comes to you.
      I send love and sympathy your way.
      Bernadette

  2. Hi, I would like to thank you for your article “Shocking Response you can give when someone Lashes Out at you”. I honestly wish it was me who was “lashed out” at, but it is me who does the lashing. At first, it seemed to come out when I was at home, between my adult son and I. I feel he takes advantage of me, and I do not hold him accountable. He has some disabilities that lead me to believe that he would not survive on his own. If something happens either at work or driving home, I tend to lash out at him. Then apologize, but the things that come out of my mouth are shocking to me and seem to get worse in each fight. The fury is a tangible entity.
    First, I’ve not been this way forever. I’m a kind person who works on herself to be the best version of “me” that I can be. But I am learning that since I became “sober”, I do not know how to control my response to anger very well. It feels like I missed the lessons others have had to learn to control their anger outbursts. But I’ve been sober for 11 years, the time to learn is right now.
    Twenty-one months ago, I blew up at long time friend. Our relationship had been strained. She “seemed annoyed about something I had done” but would not be specific and tell me why she was so distant. I had a lot of stressful things going on in my life. The biggest thing I was struggling with at that particular time was that I had to put both of my two dogs down within a four-month span. One dog was 13 and a doctor at the emergency clinic, talked me into putting her through surgery. By doing the surgery, she was unable to walk and still had to be put down after racking up a ton of medical bills for her.
    My other dog was my sister’s dog, whom I had adopted when my sister passed away. He was only 7 years old and that same darn doctor at the emergency clinic told me that my little boy had developed leukemia, which could not be humanly treated. To stop the vomiting, he had to be put down immediately. Well, my friend’s response to Max having to be put down was, well at least he is now with your sister. I went postal and told her to never talk to me again. I wanted to forget that this friendship ever existed. That I would never let her hurt me again ever again. After eight months I called her, texted her, emailed her and she would not respond.
    I stopped at her home on Sunday, June 9, 2019. I was determined to have us talk and see if we could mend fences. I missed her so much. Not a week went by during that 22 months time did I not think about her and regret how our friendship ended.
    When I got to her house, I saw it was For Sale. I rang the bell and didn’t hear her dog bark, I peaked in the window and all her things were gone.
    When I Googled her house listing, her obituary came up. My friend died on August 24, 2018 and no one notified me of her passing. I’ve since tracked down a friend of hers who told me that she had suddenly became septic and died suddenly. Why didn’t I go to her house initially?
    Life is just too precious. We wasted time that could have been spent enjoying each other’s company. Rest in peace my friend.

    1. Hi Kathy
      Thank you for sharing your journey and experiences, and my deepest sympathies at the loss of your friend and also the passing of your beloved dogs. Life can be so challenging and I hear how much pain you’ve experienced with these situations, and acknowledge and respect your continued desire to heal and grow through it all. I hope the resources on offer here will be in some small way a support to you, and feel free to reach out anytime. Sending love, Bernadette

  3. Hi Kathy,
    My son has been married for about 5 years now and he has had a very difficult marriage with his wife hard to live with he said. Wife is pregnant with a second child on the way. When we see them for get togethers they get into it and argue. Daughter in law has treated us very disrespectful and a few months ago really lashed out at us. I have set up boundaries and distancing. We may not be able to see our grandchildren in the future because she has deep seated anger. She was adopted in an ophangage at the age of 3 1/2 so we know that she might have attachment disorder and narcassism. I have done a lot of research on this topic. I am trying not to take the destructive and hurtful behavior personal but it is hard. There has been a lot of drama and emotional instability in their relationship. My son is very stable and if it had not been for him I am sure everything would fall through the cracks. She was abused in the orphanage we found out on the day that they got married which was a shock to me. I am realizing now the pain that she is going through. I strive to have peace, harmony and simplication in my life and had to set up boundaries with them as it was getting out of hand. I have also sought councelling in order to learn how to deal with this. I am not used to being around this type of person and is an abnormal situation. Life is too short for fighting and discord going on. Any further suggestions in dealing with this problem? She is very controlling and insecure also of my son. It is hard for me to take harrassment and aggression when we have been so good to her and we are undeserving of this type of behavior displayed. She has no control over her behavior and what she says around people.

    1. Hi, thanks for your message, this is Bernadette here. I hear you that this is an extremely difficult situation. There is an immense amount you and your family are being put through due to pain spilling over from this person who is clearly in deep pain and suffering from her own background/past and her present level of consciousness and free will choices. The best we can do in these times is to keep to those firm, healthy, clear boundaries, retain calm but direct and authentic communication about what is and isn’t ok (from a place of compassion and understanding), and to retain the knowing at all times that the person you are dealing with is lost in their own pain. It’s important to both acknowledge that but also not let that be a reason or justification for behavior that isn’t okay, and the only helpful response to that is to lay boundaries just like you are. While it is so difficult to see her impact on your son, and that impact on you to watch this and to know it may affect access to your grandchildren, we also know in these times that we can only control what we can control, and we have to let go of the rest. So focus entirely on your wellbeing, on boundaries, calm clear communication, holding the possibility for your son and grandchildren that they will have peace, that she will find healing, and that somehow in all this pain there are potential life lessons being learned (for all involved). Challenges are such a big part of our lives, and from all of them we can find powerful growth and healing, if we look for it. I take a very spiritual approach to situations like this, as well as the practical in taking care of boundaries and communication. Personally, I would spend time meditating/praying for her healing, that she have peace and happiness in her life and that miracles occur in this situation for all.
      I send love and peace to you,
      Bernadette

  4. Thank you Bernadette. Your comment has been extremely helpful to me. I am striving through prayer and God that everything will calm down and work out. She blames myself and husband for everything. I have had counselling on this to realize what she is doing. I am so glad that I found The Daily Positive.

  5. Hello
    I had a friend for a short time. We never met in person but through email and phone calls our friendship became very deep and intimate. We shared very personal things about ourselves. She suffers greatly from rheumatoid arthritis and has had several surgeries. I learned a lot about this awful disease and I read about how it can cause depression and mood swings in many people. And she had told me that her attitude and mood was often determined by her physical pain at any given time. This made me feel a bit edgy but I care for and love my friend. And I agonized over her pain and worried about her. She was prone to compression fractures and it was always something. She had a cancer scare that we got through together. It made our friendship that much closer. But she could be Jeckl and Hyde/hot then cold from one moment to the next and it could feel like walking on egg shells. She talked about us meeting in person for months, then, almost overnight, she changed and became upset if I even hinted a meeting. It was too much pressure she said, and a reminder of all she could not do. So I dropped that subject. We emailed each other everyday to check in. It was mutual. It was sweet and we would exchange loving and uplifting words and enjoyed the interaction. Her health weighed on me. She was always in pain and in the hospital for infections due to the immunosuppressive meds RA patients take. It is an awful disease. I tried to be careful and a loving friend. She gave me her husband’s cell phone and said I could call him anytime. So at a particularly bad time, after she’d had surgery and wasn’t doing well, she emailed me and said she’d be off email for a while and didn’t want me to worry. A couple of days later I texted her husband and only said that I was concerned about her. That’s it. Within 2 hours she emailed me and said some incredibly hurtful things. I was pushy, demanding, needy, like a stalker she said, my interaction was abnormal, I was too attached, and she had to stay in contact with me or I would freak out (which never happened). She said she never should have continued the friendship as long as she did. On and on it went. It broke my heart. And she cut me off. That was 6 months ago and I haven’t heard from her. I still miss her and still sometimes cry thinking about her pain and wishing I could have been the friend she wanted and needed. I have since sent her a Bday card and another card recently. Just told her that I still care deeply and I’m still here for her. I just remember what she said -that she might seem bipolar to me because of her sudden mood changes and I’m wondering if this is one of those instances or if she really thinks so badly of me. So I feel somewhat stuck and without closure. I hate giving up on people who meant a lot but I am getting to that point. I don’t want to be the “stalker” she accused me of being but I want her to know that I hold no grudge and I’m here. Have I said enough to her and it’s time to let her go, or do I keep at it every few months? I’m leaning towards acceptance and letting her go. Sorry to go on so long

  6. Hi
    I should have mentioned that my immediate response to the deluge of hurtful remarks was your strategy#2. This was followed by an email about how I don’t respect her or her boundaries. And I apologized and said I never would intentionally hurt her. We had a wonderfully supportive friendship while it lasted. I was caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s so she would comfort me. And I comforted her as best I could. It was intense. But maybe her pain was just too much and my friendship felt like a weight and a burden. And maybe our contact was too frequent. She didn’t suggest it was and I didn’t see any warning signs. So it really came as a shock, ending it the way she did.

    1. Thanks for sharing about your experience with this friend. A tough situation, and no doubt confusing given you valued the friendship and were so thoughtful about trying to be the type of friend she needed, and considered in what you did and said. All we can ever do is be our authentic self, and to know that sometimes that won’t be the person others want or need, and that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you or with them, it just means the 2 of you don’t gel together for whatever reason. You have much love and kindness to offer a friend, and while this person was an important part of your life for that period of time, they have chosen to cut themselves off… so rather than thinking about how to be different / to be the person they wanted… I encourage you to know that you are 100% more than enough just as you are, and that the natural loving, caring friend you were and are now is the exact person to continue being, and you will attract into your life new people who resonate with that energy. Relationships can be season, reason or lifetime. Perhaps this person was a seasonal or reason relationship, and as you move forward just think about what the relationship taught you, what it showed you does and doesn’t work for you, have gratitude for the good, and look forward with an open mind and heart for new people who are right now ready to enter your life and connect with you in friendship.

      1. Thank you Bernadette. Your reply is very much appreciated. I really loved the way we checked in with each other everyday. We shared big and little things. There is no one else like that in my life. For a while, I did try to plan an in-person meeting. In hindsight, it probably just felt like pressure to her. She is sensitive. I guess it’s normal to look back and think of what you could have said or done differently. Maybe things would be different. Maybe she felt she could not be the friend I needed. We made mistakes; I just felt like we had a connection and there wasn’t anything we couldn’t have discussed and resolved. But you’re right, she chose to walk away and that is her right. But, OMG, I miss her so very much. And it’s very painful. Thank you again for your kind comments

  7. Hi Bernadette,
    I recently received an email from an ex that lashes out at me and it bothers me a lot. I know all the things he laid against me are false but it hurts me deeply. It makes me wants to cry just emailing you what he said to me. Except, he’s told me the opposite of what he wrote in the email about me when I was with him. He said I was beautiful inside and out. So, how could someone who claims to love me very much say awful things? The relationship ended because I felt it was a roller coaster ride for me. What broke the straw was he accused me of not caring for him and not calling him to check on him after his colonoscopy. I did called him at work and he did not answer, I assumed he was upset at me. That weekend, I had my best friend visiting so he was very short with me. I assumed he was upset with me because he didn’t answered my text. The following Tuesday, we had made plans to have lunch but he stood me up and went to lunch by himself without telling me. I sat in the office waiting for him to text me when he was done with his meeting. I texted him “Are we still on for lunch?” He responded “I am at _____, you are welcome to join me.” I responded “that’s rude.” He responded “it is also rude not to call or check if I am ok.” I felt he retaliated because I didn’t check in on him or call him while I was spending my weekend with my best friend. I honestly don’t need this kind of relationship, it is draining me mentally. I finally skyped him at work “please stop.” That’s when he stopped skyping me at work. Now, he can only email to my personal account because I refused to answer his calls at work. I responded to his email he sent in December on February that I could not be in a relationship with him because I don’t trust him. I also emailed him the picture he sent me, it showed he was having dinner with someone. So, he responded to me last Wednesday saying what a bad character I am. If I am so awful, shouldn’t he be happy that we are not together anymore? I shouldn’t have responded to his email but instead I did respond with a short one but it could hurt him back as well. I emailed “You are absolutely right, I am a heartless person. I abused and used people. You and everyone should thank God for removing me in their life. Everyone dodged a bullet….pray for my next victim.” He said he wondered who’s my victim these days. He’s trying to fish to see if I am dating anyone. Honestly, because of him, I don’t trust guys and I haven’t gone out to meet people since our breakup from August. I am not interested, I am hurt and I feel it would be hard for me to give my heart out again. I spend most of my time with my family and then go spend it at my ex-husband’s house with the boys. I lost hope and faith.

    1. Hey, I hear the pain you’re going through and please know that through all adversity, pain, difficulty, confusion and breakdown, there is ALWAYS HOPE and space for healing, and through our healing journeys we rise up more our true selves than ever before, and we can choose to make the coming days brighter than they have ever been. There are trustworthy people, it is possible to trust, it possible to open one’s heart again. These are all choices we make… choosing to believe in a better today and a better tomorrow, using the pain of the past to heal and become stronger and more true to ourselves, and to know that we can create a future that aligns with our deepest values and desires. Faith and hope are always available, even in those times when it feels you’ve lost them. I send much love your way at this time, may peace be upon your mind and heart. B

  8. My fiance will take, running out of time in the morning, to, telling me she hates me, and things not associated to the frustration.
    I have taken step one, I say, I know exactly your frustration, silently stepping away, to allow her space. That usually just begins, just like you to not care and walk away.
    Keep in mind, I fell victim early on, and usually took the react with stupid comments, and now my own frustration for her frustration, that’s when I started to let the meltdown happen, say something kind, and step away. But, that didn’t work. Sourly because it was taken as not caring. Even though I’ve said prior, I’m just going to allow your space when those moods approach.
    I’ve resorted to positive comments, not saying anything and just hugging her, or holding her, to usually just be pushed away…silence.
    But, here is the question. She will often later, still angry, say, Sorry you cant understand what it’s like to have depression or be bipolar. I completely understand having meltdowns for very minimal things. And, not my problem. It’s the resorting to the attitude that, it makes it almost a free pass card, to get away. With saying some of the most off the wall, hateful, and truly hurtful things, that have absolutely nothing to do with, the “frustration” at that moment.

    I’m in no way saying I’ll ever understand the complete package of certain mental issues, bipolar, depression etc. ..I know I’ve experienced plenty of my own issues in life, but, I’m not saying every single person can help, deal, or understand their own episodes
    I’m just asking why some, resort to acting as if it’s just ok, .afterwards and still angry, say.. you think I can help this?
    Thankyou for help or thoughts
    Scott

    1. Hi Scott, I hear you and it can be challenging and frustrating. It may be that perhaps doing sessions together for personal growth or counselling would help, where you can have someone mediate to allow you both to better understand each other’s viewpoints, and come to common ground. People have all sorts of drivers as to why they behave how they do, and why they may or may not accept responsibility or see things more clearly or see your perspective. Each person is unique and we all bring our history and ‘stuff’, beliefs, and pains, hopes and dreams, to each relationship, as well as our level of consciousness of course. It sounds like you’ve taken multiple approaches to ease the situations and to find a new path forward and so you’re being proactive. If it feels like nothing is working, then as mentioned perhaps seeing a relationship expert for couples counselling would help, to work out together with that expert a way to better understand each other and find a better way of handling upset/difficult situations, better processing of feelings etc so you can both move forward together in the type of love and relationship you both want and deserve. Wishing you the best. B

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *