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?


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.


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.

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

[clickToTweet tweet=”If someone fires hurtful words at you, remember it’s from their own pain they do this. ” quote=”If someone fires hurtful words at you, remember it’s from their own pain they are doing this. Love & silence is a healing response.”]

Lashing Out at Someone You Love?

It’s brave to acknowledge if you have noticed your own tendency to lash out at others, including perhaps lashing out at someone you love dearly. It can feel so confronting to face our own inner challenges, and to own those and take accountability. It can be confusing to know where to start with breaking that cycle too.

If you notice that you lash out at loved ones, or people generally, consider seeing a therapist who specializes in anger management and relationship counselling. Having professional help to guide you through learning how to stop lashing out at loved ones can make the world of difference.

Below are related articles to support you with understanding anger and learning how to process it in healthier ways:

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 personal growth 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, or you think you might be and are unsure, 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.

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85 Responses

  1. How do you stay compassionate and loving when 5 people lash out at you in a week, tell you that you are worthless and stupid, on top if that I hace emotionally abusive father and am in physical pain 24/7. I listen to everybidy and reply with compassion, but if the roles were reversed, I would get thrown cursewords at my face. I am strong, but I am also a person and can only take so much.
    I’ce had suicidal thoughts in the past, have two psychoneurological disorders, chronic back pain, vegetative dystonia and some other things. I can listen to others, but I don’t have anybody to talk to myself and I take all this lashing out personally, because I am being called useless and a twat because apparently ” you never listen”. There is a difference between being a friend and letting people use you as a doormat.

    1. Hi Eva, in the face of ongoing abuse and negativity, it is so important to take care of yourself, and being conscious and compassionate doesn’t mean being a doormat or taking abuse from others. It means you do what it necessary to find peace for yourself and to not perpetuate the cycle by doing to others what is done to you. It is so important to have healthy boundaries, to stand up for yourself, to remove yourself where possible from inappropriate treatment by others. Being conscious and choosing peace for yourself sometimes means being loving and compassionate toward others, and in other scenarios it means saying and doing nothing, and walking away, and in other scenarios it means laying out very clearly to another person what is not okay and what you will not accept. It is about reading the situation and working out the best possible path forward. Always remember – you are NOT what others tell you. Their hurtful words are a reflection of their inner state being projected outward. Always continually tell yourself the truth of who you are – you are enough, you are good, you are loveable, you are worthy, you are deserving, you are valuable. You will find on my website and on my Youtube channel other videos useful for situations like this, including the video “What to do when someone’s words hurt you”. Also use the affirmation audios to feed yourself powerful loving messages to help heal and strengthen yourself. I hope this is helpful for you on your journey. Best wishes, Bernadette

  2. Dear Bernadette,

    Your 13 steps are terrific! At some point, I have learned them all, but never seen them so beautifully expressed. And your reference to Thich Nhat Hahn is so right-on. Small bits of anger can escalate into large, global conflicts and one great preventative strategy is for us humans is to practice non-violent communication, with one person at a time.

    I am truly humbled by some amazing communicators in my life. The biggest challenge I find is practicing compassionate communication all of the time. For some people in my life, I have learned how to do it, for others, not so well. It is so important to remember that practice makes perfect AND, as you point out, regular abuse is not ok. Distancing yourself from repeatedly abusive people is an act of compassion and self-care.

    I was shocked that my partner of 7 years started with regular verbal abuse about a year ago, but have resisted the idea of leaving. Situations that are closer to you can sneak up on you and ambush you. My compassionate communications skills were nowhere to be found and I have been just reeling until I recently heard the support in so many people’s kind words. Never a straight recommendation, but so many people saying in so many different ways that they are there for me.

    1. Hey Rebecca, so lovely to connect with you, thank you for your message and sharing your own insights and experience. You are right on point… that sometimes the relationships closest to us can start to change and it sneaks up and builds up over time. And yes… sometimes we are great at doing “peaceful response” in some situations with certain people, but in other relationships it is much more challenging (comes closer to home, or hits our raw nerves differently). I’m glad you have so many people around you giving you support and loving kindness. I send you much love. Bx

  3. I have a friend who is depressed all the time, and over the past week I have told him he can come to me for help with whatever is the matter. He told me he was having some problems with his health and he wasn’t eating, so I told him he needed to change his diet, because it really makes such a difference. He was having depression, anger outbursts, and loneliness. After telling him all of this and suggesting it to him, he lashed out at me and called me some unruly words, although I was just trying to help him with all I could. I didn’t shout back at him or get angry, I stayed calm and took everything he had to say to me. He told me he never wanted to speak to me again and left, but a while later he came back and was even worse. Screaming and shouting at me he told me to get out of his life and that he was depressed and no one understood him and that everyone was trying to change who he was. He was telling me it wasn’t that simple as to changing his diet and getting off of the drugs the doctors were giving him, they were ruining him, by using him as their guinea pig. I told him he has so many friends who care for him and are trying to help him, but he is shutting them out and not listening to what they have to say. He left me after that and didn’t want anything to do with me. I’m afraid I have just lost another friend do to depression. I did everything right, and I don’t know what to do now. I am just thinking of letting him go, but that’s not what friends do.

    1. Thank you for your message. I can hear how tough that situation is for you, and how much you dearly care about you friend. Continue to love him, continue to be available if he reaches out, hold him in your visualizations each day – see him as healthy, happy, smiling and at peace. By creating that vision and remembering who he is beyond this challenge, even when he can’t remember it, you truly help him. I acknowledge you for all the ways you have tried to help him, and remember sometimes in these situations there is no “right” thing to do or answer to give, or way to help. The only thing we know for sure is to continue to love him no matter what, even if pain and grief and anger is coming back. Love has power in itself beyond what we say and do. Sometimes your words and actions won’t reach him or make a difference in the tangible sense, in terms of what you see happening. But your LOVE will always break through, even if you can’t see how it is helping at all. Hold the energy, hold the vision, hold the love, meditate for him, create the vision of him as happy… so these things on his behalf. Ask the Universe to send into his life anything that would help him on his journey. Ask the Universe to guide you as to other ways you might be able to help. I send love and best wishes to you, and to him. Peace and blessings, B

    2. Dear Shadow Flame,
      I don’t usually participate in online chats, but when I saw your message, I felt I had to say something.
      I have suffered from depression and great emotional challenges like social anxiety all my life starting from childhood. Although I work hard on my emotional health, getting through each day continues to bring great suffering. One of the hardest parts of it all is what happens when I reach out to friends. I do commend you for being so caring about your friend, but I have to disagree with your statement “I did everything right.” From first-hand experience, I would say that your response, while made with good intentions, could be quite hurtful to someone who is in a difficult place. When someone is depressed or anxious, there are ways to respond that are healing, and ways to respond that exacerbate the depression or anxiety. One of the biggest guidelines for being supportive to depressed or anxious people is to make sure not to offer solutions, negate the person’s feelings however intense they may be, try to fix them, or try to move them out of that state. The thing I crave most when feeling down (and almost never get) is someone to LISTEN and not to give me a timetable for when my difficult feelings need to be over. Someone to share the pain with. Someone to really listen and accept the feelings that are raging through me without trying to “fix” me. Someone to be okay with whatever I may need to share about my depression. Someone to believe me when I say I’m in pain. Someone to help me NAME what’s going on inside of me rather than name solutions. When someone listens well and a person is given a chance and the time to name feelings accurately, emotions that are stuck tend to start moving and there is a sense of relief. Anything else that comes before sincere acceptance, really good listening, and a sign from the depressed person that they are now ready to move on to hearing advice, is likely to backfire. Acceptance is key. I am saying that from personal experience and from the pain that comes from the well-meant solutions and judgments offered all the time, but a lack of people (even therapists) who know what true listening is. If you want to be a caring friend, I would recommend that you research how to be a good listener. There is a lot of material out there about what to say and not say to depressed and anxious people. Even then, like Bernadette said, your friend may not feel that you said the “right” thing, but giving advice when it’s not requested, is in my opinion, most often the wrong thing. Good luck and thanks for listening…

      1. The post above is so true, when someone is depressed you are putting the cart before the horse by suggesting a change in diet. Im sure that would help but its like your ignoring the most painful parts of your friend which is the depression, being a good friend and listening is what pulls people through depression as a big part of depression is that no one cares enough to listen. There is also depression from medication, either way the person needs someone to talk to and even a counselor well versed in depression to help them sort things out. I once had a dear old friend that told me to “snap out of it” when i was struggling with depression, it put me deeper in depression to hear such a disconnected uncaring remark from someone who was supose to be my friend, i was angry to, i hung up on her because if i didnt i would have blown up at her. Its a tough place to be in, you need a lot of “real” possitive affirmation, the truth about the good things you are. When your depressed you need to talk to someone and so many counselors and therapist put $ before helping people, that was my experience, I was struggling to pay my bills, had a car on its last legs, couldnt get a job that would pay the bills because of my age and when i reached out to a counseling service they thought they were being great because they cut the price down for me, couldn’t afford insurance either, i still could not pay for the counseling i needed so badly and i felt guilty that they were giving me a financial break, i was depressed enough, i didnt need to add to it!! And yes, there are free hotlines to call but if they ask you if your suisidle and you feel at the end of your rope and say yes, instead of a caring voice to talk you through it you get a knock on your door from the “authorities”. Its a messed up world for sure. Bottom line is, anyone in situational deoression needs to be able to tell someone where
        their at, they need to not feel so alone. Its hard to reach out, there is still such a stigma related to depression but a caring, empathetic friend can facilitate that process.

        1. Feather, thank you so much for sharing this here in our community. I am 100% sure others need to hear exactly what you’ve said, both people who have loved ones going through depression, or people who might be in that same situation you experienced. Many thanks. Bernadette

      2. I do not agree with this article at all. By not reacting you are allowing someone to treat you like trash over and over. There is nothing wrong with standing up for yourself or telling someone off for treating you poorly.
        Not reacting and offering love and support is being a door mat.

  4. My partner tends to say hurtful things whenever he is tired/had a bad day.
    I had an awful and stressful time with organising our upcoming weddings due to difficulties and politics among my bridesmaids and he says that I am never happy when I come home and he’s tired of hearing the negativity from me and he would rather I just bottled it and didn’t tell him.

    Then last night he complained that we do not have enough intimacy because I am always tired or exhausted (I work 2 jobs and commute 3 hours a day and he has one job and walks to work) and that I need to make time for him or he will seek intimacy elsewhere.

    This is the first time he has ever talked about cheating and it really really hurts me. I am supposed to be marrying this man in 8 months time. I tried to suggest ways of making it better and tried showering him with love and kissing his face but he stared blankly into his phone and was unresponsive towards me. He then rolled over to sleep and left me crying beside him.

    I don’t know what to do when I get home this evening- how to be around him. Do I give him space and ignore him with your #1 way? Do I give him more love with option #2(which didn’t work yesterday)?

    I feel very insecure now about his talking of infidelity. I have been cheated on by previous partners and I find it so very harmful to my self-esteem and self-worth. He has never cheated on his previous girlfriends but for him to plant that seed is very hard for me to deal with. I would love to have more intimacy with him to solve this issue, but often I feel that whatever I do give will never be enough.

    1. Hi Charlotte, thank you for your message. It sounds like this is definitely more than your partner lashing out from having a bad day now and then (though you’ve noted that he does do that – saying hurtful things when tired or not feeling good). Going beyond that, it sounds like he is blurting out things regarding your relationship that need attention. Things he’s concerned about, frustrated with, confused about, and perhaps doesn’t know how to “fix”. While the way he’s communicating that is not very conscious and not helpful, the bigger picture is that something is might out of balance for the two of you. So finding a way forward would start with communication about how to get on “the same page” regarding what you both want and need in your relationship, how to have quality time together, how to reconnect on a deeper level – in terms of both intimacy but also just emotional connection. Focusing on what brought the two of you together in the first place, what you love about each other, what your shared values are, what type of life you both want, what your vision for your future together is, what you want/need from each other, and how to bring the situation back to balance on that foundation. Having that type of conversation could be a starting point, then looking at logistical ways you can have more energy, balance, time together with the reality of work/commuting etc, so you can nourish the relationship. And a conversation about his suggestion he would go elsewhere for intimacy – that’s something to address to get to the root of whether this is a hurtful off-the-cuff comment out of frustration (but without substance) or whether he intentional about that. I hope these ideas help. You are welcome to reach out for a coaching session with me if you wish. You can find more information at this link… https://www.thedailypositive.com/life-coach/ Warmest wishes, Bernadette

  5. Hi Bernadette,

    Last night my wife hit me hard with her elbow. I had shouted boo at her to try to get rid of her hiccups. In the past she has ‘playfully’ hit me when i’ve been cheeky. I have told her to stop but last night really hurt me both physically and mentally. I have tried to talk to her to let her know there is no excuse. (I am a physically disabled man having lost an arm and had a stroke so i need assistance to do things and i rely on her.) but she says it was an adrenaline response and not her fault. I am sceptical. I believe the playful punches she has given me to date have given her permission to resort to violence whenever she feel justified. What do I do? i am scared for the future but love her deeply

    1. Hi Les, thanks for your message.
      It is great that you have communicated your concern to her. It sounds like you raised it at the time it happened, which is really good. And perhaps now, having 24-48 hours passed, it would be useful to raise it again with her when you are both calmer and have some distance from the situation. In the first instance, it may be that she hasn’t fully understood how concerned you are about wanting to prevent this type of thing in future. Raising it again with her, calmly and clearly, will give you another opportunity to let her know your concerns. If possible, come from a space of genuine love and concern about the dynamic in the relationship, and wanting the best for the 2 of you moving forward, conveying that you love her deeply and that this type of hitting (jokingly, reactively or otherwise) is not something you want in your relationship for yourself or for her. I wish you well with your situation. You will find lots of resources on my website for communication and relationships, particularly this one for having difficult conversations, which may be useful… https://www.thedailypositive.com/how-to-have-a-difficult-conversation/ Best wishes, Bernadette

  6. So what do you do when you are passive But the anger is still aimed at you to the point your character is being assassinated?
    The things you are accused if during their outburst are unthinkable?
    You can’t help react then.
    I have tried and tried to be passive but it gets to the point ykuncan no longer be passive.
    The anger, the name calling, all aimed at you because they are having a bad day or you didn’t quite react to something the way they thought you should.
    Your reacting results in one small comment and you are then victimised for making that one comment when their 100 comments were a lot worse. When your one comment results in them assaulting you.

    1. While we may not be “negatively reacting”, and choose to process something happening more peacefully, it doesn’t mean we want to do nothing or say nothing, or be passive. Sometimes the situations calls for taking our calm approach to assert strong boundaries, to be very clear with someone how we feel, to change directions/decisions about where/who/what we will allow in our space or in our life. Definitely when you have repeated abusive behavior you want to stand for yourself and what you are willing to allow in your life, and that may involve communication with the hope to change things for the better (if we try to create positive change, the optimal is to communicate from a clear and calm state) OR it may involve deciding to walk away (if you intuitively know that trying to improve the relationship is not possible given repeated attempts in the past that didn’t work). I send my best wishes to you for what you are facing and a way forward, and if you need more help please reach out to me via my contact page or coaching page for other ways I can support you. Bernadette

    2. That what you’ve experienced is emotional abuse and I strongly suggest for you to leave the relationship. People take too much crap from people , when they know you’ll walk they don’t do it. It’s just they know you’ll take it.

  7. Sometimes people take their anger out on someone who seems the LEAST likely to defend hinself. You have to let them know that you will not tolerate it. Taking things out on someone else is not mature.

    1. Indeed, it’s so important to have healthy boundaries and to be honest in your self-expression about what those boundaries are – with calm, clarity and confidence. Thanks for sharing.

  8. So my best friend has been going through some really rough times lately. He lost many valued friend through petty fights. He had ro move out of his mom’s house to his grandparents because he was taking abuse at his mothers house. His girlfriend broke up with him. Plus the fact that he’s not doing too good in school. I have known him for years and over time, well, I fell in love with him. But I know he doesn’t feel the same way. And he knows how I feel. But through all of this, I have tried to stick with him and help him and it seems like all he does is blame me for his things. When he’s not doing that, he’ll talk to me about other girls that he likes or wants to be with. And in doing that, he will say to me that I’m just not good enough, otnot as pretty as she is, and then in the next second he’s talking about how I don’t know what he’s going through and then he won’t talk tome for a week. Meanwhile, at home I have two parents who have cancer, a grandpa who is in the hospital with heart issues, and a life that just feels like it’s falling apart. I have triedto kind and compassionate to him but when it’s everyday, everytime I talk to him, what can I do?

    1. Hey thanks for reaching out. It’s really important that you have healthy boundaries and respect your own beautiful self. You have a lot going on in your life (and I send my love and peace your way, for yourself and your family members). With your friend, you can be completely loving and compassionate and supportive, but that doesn’t mean you have to stand in the firing line when he’s being hurtful or unkind or not thinking about your feelings. Sometimes, we have to quietly decide within ourselves that we don’t need to take that type of treatment, and create a little more space or boundaries. The old saying “love them from a distance!”. Someone saying “you’re not good enough” is never okay. You ARE good enough, that is not a question. The facts are simply he doesn’t feel the intimate love toward you that he wants in a relationship, and he’s not conveying it well. You can still be a great friend, but when you hear negative messages, speak up. For example, “I understand what you’re saying, but actually I AM good enough, and I’m awesome, and I know you don’t feel romantically toward me the way you do toward others and that’s totally fine. But as a friend, I want to receive kindness and support from my friends, and I want to give that in return. It’s hurtful to receive negative comments and blame, and I want us to move forward in our friendship more positively.” If you find it hard to say these types of things, writing him a letter might be another way to do it. But always when communicating with someone who has hurt us, stick to the facts, stick to what you want for the future for the relationship (ie avoid blaming or hurtful comments, as often it’s easy to sink into that attack mode when we feel we’ve been treated poorly). I wish you the best with everything and remember – you deserve to be treated well, you can surround yourself with the people you choose and positive, supportive energy. And when a good friend is behaving badly, you’re allowed to speak up and to create a little space, you can still be supportive to them and to yourself at the same time. Love, Bernadette

  9. B, you’re amazing! Thank you for sharing how to respond when someone lashes out. You’re the first stop for me this morning during a search on the internet concerning what I can do to improve my relationship with my daughter. Last night, she lashed out at me…again. She called me. From the first hello, it was obvious that she’s unhappy. I asked how she is and she said, “fine.” I asked about her husband, her dog, her new job. She hates her new job. I was trying to find a talking point, because her answers were one or two words. Her tone sounded angry. I asked, “Is there something that I’ve done to cause you to be angry with me?” She said “No.” We said a few more things. I asked if there’s anything about her job that she likes and she said, “I don’t want to talk about the silver lining.” I said that I wasn’t pointing out a silver lining, I was sincerely interested. She said that she needed to go…dial tone. She hung up. Your article brought some light to what may be going on with her (and me). Thank you. My daughter’s under tremendous strain, is newly married, and her dog has a serious illness. She’s training for a new job and has found that she “hates” what she thought she’d enjoy, etc. She’s 23. She graduated from university last June. She’s truly an amazing young woman. I’m concerned about her. Until about six months ago when her beloved grandpa passed away, she’d reach out to me, text me, call, receive my calls, and we enjoyed being together. But since then, she’s been distant, responds to my calls and texts on occasion. Replies with one word, maybe three. Is obviously hurting. Is obviously grieving, though she says that she’s okay and she says that she’s really not grieving, because Grandpa was 90. She prides herself in her independence, I give advise when she asks. Otherwise, I do my best to keep it to myself. What I’m hearing her say is that she wants to be able to talk and know that I care, but she doesn’t want me to respond with encouragement. I’ve tried being silent and affirming that I’m listening, When I’m silent, she thinks I don’t care. I have a card for her that I was going to mail to her to let her know that I’m here for her. After last night, I was unsure of sending it to her, unsure of how she’d respond. I want to do the right thing. I want my daughter back. But then I read your article. Your husband’s gifts to you inspire me to go for it. Your insight encourages me to not take her reactions personally. When she’s feeling better emotionally, I’m going to ask how I can be a better support for her when she’s having a tough time. I won’t ask that question now. But later when the tension is gone. The card is going in the mail today…thank you very much. You’re a blessing. Love, Pamela

    1. 100% yes to all of that Pamela! Sending the card is a beautiful thing to do, something your daughter can receive and digest in her own time. The love behind it will not go unnoticed, even if she is in such pain right now that she is unable to express gratitude. We share the love not to get recognized for it, but to ensure the person feels supported. Just know that even if she can’t say right now that she needs you or appreciates you, in her heart she does. The strain she is projecting toward you, is most definitely not about you as you’ve pointed out. It’s the tough time she is having, spilling over, and the most important thing she needs right now is to have someone be there as a steady listening, loving space. It’s so natural to take things personally when someone we care about is troubled, strained and short with us, but truly what that situation calls for is non-reaction, digging deep within to hold the love, to hold the light for her, to be there in non-judgement, and to remember SHE HAS EVERYTHING IN HER THAT SHE NEEDS TO GET THROUGH THIS. This challenge, this series of situations building up, it can be the making of her… making her stronger and wiser as a result, calling her to rise up. As a parent you naturally want to ease that pain for her, but at the same time you know you can’t. She has to walk her own path. And you can be there beside her as a steady, reliable source of love. Thank you so much for being in our community and I send love to you and your daughter. Bx

  10. I’ve had a stressful couple of weeks (family health issues/identity theft and many little irritations in a short period of time.)
    Most of the time I try to show the outside world my good side but I’m also human..and was feeling not quite happy and perky. I went to work (I ‘ve cleaned for a friend-8 years) Something that has annoyed me about job came up and I tried to nip it in the bud by being direct…but somehow the tone of the other person(my friend’s “friend” who lives there sounded irritated at me and I just got upset). My friend and employer really yelled at me and wouldn’t let me explain the situation. I was so shook up I burst into tears. I apologized to the other person(even though that person was the reason for my annoyance as I wanted to make peace and just get on with the day and my work.) I have never done that on the job(I’ve been there 8 years)
    The work situation is ok for the most part but I felt demeaned that my friend/employer would not allow me to explain myself. Later he tried to be nicer but it pretty much ruined my day.I also know this friend has some esteem issues himself. I’m usually a pretty easy person to deal with…This really made me feel I had little value. Should I just do my job and not be as friendly for a while?

    1. Hey Renee
      We’re all human, and it’s totally okay to off days or off moments when you don’t feel good, and if your emotions get the better of you, be kind to yourself. It happens to everyone from time to time. And it’s great you see that the other person has their own “stuff” too, so they are doing the best they can at that moment, and maybe they didn’t deal with it well. But that is rarely going to be about you… what others say and do is just a reflection of their own challenges/issues/thoughts/feelings. So the only focus here is managing yourself, and let go of the rest. Forgive yourself, rinse it off and start again. And just ask yourself… who do I want to be in the world? What are my values? And then live true to that each day. Don’t let a difficult situation cause you to shut down or shut off your natural beautiful self. Do your job the way your values and integrity would have you show up. Be the person you most want to be. Do that fully. Sending best wishes, Bernadette

  11. I was finally getting happy after my husband passed away. My daughter had me bring my puppy of 5 years to her house in the morning to be with her puppy of 2 years
    This way she could check on me when I picked him up at the end of the day. A good friend at work helped with air BNB on my home. I still live in my space and air BNB the rest of the house. This has given me back freedom and money. So I do have to keep digging out of my husbands account. It keeps me busy with little projects to do around the house. My daughter started a new hair salon with her friends and I was over there helping scraping scrubbing painting cleaning throwing trash away in dumpster and taking trash chairs to good will. I was busy it felt so good and I was tired and sleeping. Then I get a text message from my daughter that my new son in law does not want me to bring puppy over to house anymore It is too much for him to handle she says She said she felt horrible but does not want him to be mad at her.
    I couldn’t believe it so I lashed out said mean things
    She said having the two dogs there and her bird of 11 months was too much
    My dog is good but when all together her dog is bad and bird is noisy. I said it was you who told me to do this so you could check on me daily since dad is dead.. I said I was at salon helping my body still hurts from all the work I did. Why didn’t you tell me when I was there not in a text at 3:00 in the morning
    I was hurt I felt son in law does not want me around. I lashed out and now I have lost even more
    I lost everyone
    I lost their love and lost the time we spent together. I have suffered the consequences
    You are right the one that lashes out suffers
    I’m suffering and so is my puppy he has no one to play with either. What should I do

    1. Hey Joanne, I hear you and send much love to you.
      We all go through situations at times where we lose our cool and lash out, from deep feelings of hurt, things inside of us being triggered by other people or situations, and we can end up hurting others when our emotions spill over. But there is always a way forward. Your blessed puppy will find other dog friends to play with (you can take him to lots of places in public where there will be dogs he can hang out with), but the most important thing here is you and your relationships with your family. It’s so important to clean things up, by reaching out with an open heart, to apologize for anything you feel warrants apology, to ask for forgiveness, to forgive them too and to extend a hand of peace by acknowledging their own viewpoints and their own rights to say what they need and how they feel (in these situations it’s essential to be able to acknowledge how you feel but also fully acknowledge their standpoint too, even if you don’t agree with it). I’ve put 2 links below that I hope will help you. There is always a way forward…
      Please also know, that just because we seek to forgive others, forgive ourselves or “clean things up” if we have been mean/unkind and lashed out, doesn’t at all mean that the other parties didn’t have a part to play and that they too didn’t cause issues or say hurtful things or not manage the situation well. BUT – we can’t control others, and we can’t make choices for them, we can only focus 100% on who we choose to be in the situation, to choose to be our most conscious, loving selves now and to do our best to be the bigger/better person in the situation to create healing for all involved (ourselves and others). That often means extending the olive branch, acknowledging the other person’s point of view and how they felt, and saying we understand (even if we don’t agree we try to see it from their perspective even if it wasn’t communicated well), and then we surrender as to whether they in turn reciprocate the same response of love, healing and forgiveness.
      Try not to focus on who did what, or who is wrong, and who is right and what could have been done better. Focus instead on “it is what it is” and both sides are hurting, and only address, “What can I do now that will help to heal this situation”. From that stand point you are going to have the most empowered path forward. With much love, Bernadette

  12. If the lashing out episodes are chronic and undeserved, then no, do not reward the perpetrator with love, understanding, and affection. That’s unjust and a recipe for codependency. It’s like giving a treat to a dog for biting you. Instead, be with a more mature person or with no one.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective, and yes most definitely… agreed that this type of suggested response is NOT for situations of violence or chronic situations. “Venting” now and then is different to aggressive lashing out or regular lashing out for that matter. We have done our best to put this article and tip in context, with a note at the very top of the article and a detailed note at the bottom too to be sure anyone reading this post takes it in the context it is intended. Thank you for pointing this out too, as it’s important that readers do understand whether it’s applicable to their unique situation. With warmest wishes!

    2. JS, I fully agree with you.. It is often not clear at all, why someone suddenly beheaves ugly and accuses you of all kinds of things. Even though you can say: “It does’t say anything about you” but “everything about the other person”, doesn’t mean that you should take it for granted. On the other hand, there is an sort appeal to your loving compassionate response: To forgive the other and even yourself .. If I have read the stories above, then some of these instructions really don’t apply! I’m sorry! For instance: Someone who threatens you, to look for another for intimacy, just before a wedding? … huh? That is pure emotional abuse and violant manipulation of trust. I would say: Believe this so cald future partner on his word, and think again very well before you get married with this crazy dude. Some things others say you never forget! Even though you have a nice wedding day .. My advice would be: Cut it off immediately. By threatening with betrayal and infidelity, the tone has already been set! He is not ready for a wedding, that simple! He makes this known in a passive aggressive way to her.. RUN I would say to her. Love is kind, love is blind…

  13. There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moment?s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.

  14. What should you do when you live with someone who constantly lashes out? Though it is because they are disabled (have been for 10+ years), it is on an every day to every other day basis. I am feeling really drained, and though I try to act with compassion, the hurtful words can get to a point of being too much.

    1. Hi HJ, thanks so much for reaching out. Such a tough situation to be in, to love and care for someone with disability, and also to suffer some of the challenges they face as it spills over to you. While there is no way to control or change who or how they are, the only thing that you can do is to focus on your own self-care and wellbeing. Often when hurt, overwhelmed, stimulated regularly by negativity, we can become so emotionally stressed that it’s harder to cope with an already difficult situation. 1 key is to identify what you own level of personal “balance” is and to know what you need to do to maintain it. When we can find and nurture our own physical, mental and emotional balance/wellbeing, we have so much more capability and fuel in our tank to deal with that negativity and the triggers. It doesn’t make the situation okay, but it helps us to be more able to deal with it. Often things like breathing exercises, meditation, physical exercises, personal down-time/interests, finding small spaces of time for solitude to recalibrate… can all help. This might require organizing consciously in order to get out of the environment, and have someone cover you to get relief if you are a caregiver – in order to take care of your wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time spent on these things, just small snippets of time on a regular basis is often enough to help fill you up with what you need to be strong, resilient and feel more able to cope. With love, Bernadette

  15. Hey Just want to say Passive communication actually feeds there angry by knowing when they are angry they have an ability to lash out at you

  16. I have a question that you may be able to help me with is why someone can act so calm and the second you want to bring up something that you been wanting to say because it seems like the perfect time they get mad and lash out a you. I feel like being passive which me to me not saying anything and just doing everything they want you to do and not doing anything for yourself.

    1. Hi Steven, yes I know what you mean. Well it’s easy to be calm when everyone is playing your game. So this person who is normally calm but if you raise a topic they don’t want to deal with… well they’re calm when they’re not triggered. That’s how so many people often live… calm when it’s easy and things are going fine, and upset/frustrated when triggered by life situations, changes or other people. It may help to instead write them a letter that they will read in their own time, when you’re not there, giving them space to be alone with their own thoughts and feelings, while they digest and process what you have to say. Then you can regroup with them later after they’ve read it and reflected, to hopefully have a calmer conversation. The letter allows you space to express what you need to say, and space for them to be with their own feelings instead of firing those at you. I hope that is in some way helpful. Warmest wishes, B

  17. Unless it’s your partner or a close friend or family member no one else is worth it if they are so toxic to try to manipulate sympathy from you via anger. Screw that! Don’t be doormat walk away.

  18. I can’t take it anymore. Years of being a recepticle of a siblings hatred for everyone that she is too cowardly to attack. You never know when she will lash out if you have to engage in normal interaction about family matters. Today I asked a simple question about something ordinary and she wouldn’t give me a straight answer. And when I was forced to ask again she swore in my face and got really ugly. You never know if she’ll be in a rage and not a day goes by without her yelling curses loud enough to make sure I can’t escape being aware of her rage. And no, I’m not buying her roses. When she behaves like a piece of @#^$ , I’m going to treat her like the person she is and not the fragile flower that everone thinks angry people must be on the inside. I’m so tired of taking abuse, I want to smash something like her big narcissistic face.

    1. Hi E, I totally hear you and yes in situations like this when someone is repeatedly lashing out and pouring their rage onto you (i.e it’s not simply a one off instance of someone having a bad day), an appropriate response is to be assertive, direct, to have clear boundaries and to not allow mistreatment like that. It may mean communication about what is acceptable, what is not, to put both emotional boundaries in place and also if possible physical boundaries (reducing exposure, removing opportunities for these types of interactions). As harsh it may sound, sometimes we have to step away from people, even those we love, until they are in a space to realize that directing their pain at us is not acceptable. This may also require boundaries like not answering text messages or phone calls, not visiting etc if those are ways/means that end up being rage-filled situations where abuse is happening. I have lots of resources about how to deal with difficult family members, how to have difficult conversations, how to handle conflict etc if it interests you. I’m happy to provide links to those if you wish, but equally if the approach doesn’t resonate with you, I respect that too and wish you the best. Bernadette 🙂

  19. Your husband’s response worked because you are a loving person who feels sorry for lashing out at him. I have responded compassionately to difficult people who lashed out at me at work and they then bullied me more. So how do we respond to those who lash out at us repeatedly and from whom we can’t escape? That’s a different situation. Thanks.

    1. Hi Kay
      Indeed, the response doesn’t work with everyone, I appreciate that, and certainly it is not intended to be considered or appropriate for situations of violence, abuse or bullying.
      My start point is always compassion. If that doesn’t work, I take a few different approaches. 1) Boundaries. 2) Calm, clear, direct/assertive communication. 3) I invoke miracles (leaning on my spiritual/faith practices to call upon unseen helping hands to create shifts in energy and shifts in perception in myself and others, for miracle shifts in the situation). I have put a few links below to resources that might be useful around difficult conversations, miracles in relationships/situations, and managing conflict…
      I hope these are useful in some way.

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