hurt keeps us from experiencing relationships

Are you stuck in a hurt locker? Here’s how you can break free

I like watching war films. It’s exciting to watch soldiers in action, taking hard decisions on autopilot, sometimes in situations that are mind-numbingly gory. The Hurt Locker was a 2008 American war thriller film that shows soldiers’ varying psychological reactions to the stress of combat. Hurt Locker is slang for “severe injury”.

Humans have one thing going a lot for them by virtue of being human. WE GET HURT. And most of it is where it is invisible. Our capacity for feelings and our interactions with other imperfect beings just like we are is the reason for most of our hurts. 

The funny thing is, getting hurt makes us a special version of animals!

I know that’s probably sounding absurd but let me explain.

I am a snail when I am defensive and a rattlesnake when I am offensive depending on my reaction. People become bulls, bats, cats, dogs, etc. when they get hurt, particularly when they are pushed to a ‘severe injury’ scenario. Some push and destroy while others scratch and injure, yet others bark and bark in the hope of being heard. (Want to know which animal you relate to? Ask your closest friend/spouse but first promise not to bite their head off!)

Most of us tend to become snails to deal with the aftermath. When we were kids it was so easy to forgive our best buddy. We might have remembered the offense to blackmail something out of our friend but the issue usually lost its sting pretty soon. And then we grew up. It kept becoming harder and harder to let go of the hurts. Eventually, we learned to retreat into our shells to avoid any further damage.

hurts make us retreat into shells made to protect us but they actually alienate us
And then comes the shell…

You know this shell is a fancy place! Curated lies about the hurtful situation decorate every nook. The murals are all the traits we don’t like about this person.  There is no window of truth. It’s even soundproof, so the only sound we hear is that of our wounded pride, self-justifying our response on repeat.

We erect a wall around our heart against the person, relationship, or situation responsible for our emotional hurt. Measures were taken to lock out all probability of repeated hurts. We set up a shield inside the shell. Little by little, we worked hard to become immune to that familiar pain so that we can share space on earth with this person without going berserk.

We didn’t become like this in a day, right? 

It happened to me. My trust broke again and again. I faced rejections and hurts repeatedly from the same person. It still happens and I am sure it happens to you too.

It is never the outcome of one incident.

Over time, undealt hurts inch us closer to a point of no return. We no longer put ourselves in a vulnerable situation for anyone to hurt us and walk away.

Does this shell work? Yes, it does.

Good news? Sadly, no.

Why is your hurt locker not helping you?

Just like a locker keeps intruders out from stealing precious gems, it also restricts the gems from being put to any good use. When we close off our hearts to people in the hopes of avoiding hurt, we are actually locking ourselves in a false sense of safety. We lose out on creating real connections and feel real joy. Even when we could have let our heart brim and overflow with joy, it flows constructively because it is too clogged.

You can break free of hurts to live a full life

Here’s how to break free 

I want you to know that it’s possible to break free of past hurts. In fact, its impertinent that you do, because only then can you really live a full life.

  • Break the fear of hurt

Don’t you fondly remember the childhood fun days? Haven’t you also gained some physical scars because of those? Then why fear hurts now? Being adults makes bouncing back a daunting task because now we have complicated reasonings, misplaced pride, and egos to handle. Rather, embracing a childlike approach to hurt will make handling hurts much easier.

  • Vulnerability is not weakness

I resist making myself vulnerable. It’s almost a knee jerk reaction, but whenever I became vulnerable I found freedom. When we shut people out, we also shut ourselves in. There is no exchange taking place, neither good nor bad. No exchange means no growth. Does this mean we become vulnerable to everyone? No, but choose wisely those whom you trust, those who matter, those we share life with because they deserve our best.

  • Exposing leads to healing

A shell is a dark place. If you hide your hurt under a place that’s not aired, it’s not going to heal. Stay that way too long and it will get infected making it worse and running it deeper. That sort of defies the point of the shell in the first place, isn’t it? Expose your hurt, talk it out. Bring your hurt into Light. If it’s possible to resolve, ignoring shouldn’t be an option.

  • Don’t wait for apologies

If nothing works, let go without apologies or expectations. Give yourself permission to feel the hurt instead of staying in denial. Don’t let yourself rot in negativity. Forgiveness is about you, not the one who hurt you. Become the one who gives second chances and you will find the freedom you deserve.

Dear reader,

its time to bid adieu to our hurt lockers. Opening ourselves to relationships, new and old will spark lasting joy.

I hope these tips reminded you of the past hurts you need to break free from.

Having said all this, am I saying its cakewalk to forget your past and live as if you are invincible? No, I am not.

No one can give you a way out of hurts but these tips will help you walk through them. It’s hard and messy but it’s much better than being stuck in a hurt locker. Don’t you think?

Would love to hear your thoughts. Comment!


How to break free from past hurts?
hurt lockers give a false sense of safety while locking us in

Hello, I am Sheryl. I am turning into a master juggler with two toddlers, my writing and creativity explorations tossed among other things as I try to make sense of life's many puzzles. On my blog, 'Sherbeth', join me in exploring all of life's flavours; sweet, bitter and everything in between.

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2 Comments
  • Nikhil
    September 24, 2020

    Great read Sheryl!

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