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Little children start out with a clean slate. They are happy, alive and free. They may be a little wild at times, but under it all, they are pure love. The same is true for all of us. We start out this way, but unfortunately, we are born into a world that suppresses this state.

In the process of growing up, we get hurt, and we get hurt a lot. As little children, the only way we can explain these painful losses of love is to blame ourselves: “Clearly I’m the problem.” We then decide that we are worthless, not good enough, not worth loving, a failure, or some other form of feeling “not okay.”

It’s never the truth that we are this way. It’s just a suppressed emotion. But to a little child, in a moment of hurt, it becomes our truth. This is the only explanation that makes any since at the time. We then go through life fighting the very belief that we created. “No one can ever love me if I’m worthless. Worthless is a horrible way to be.”

It’s the automatic avoidance of this hurt that sabotages our lives. Any circumstance that triggers this hurt is perceived subconsciously as a major threat. To avoid this threat, we fight, resist, hang on and withdraw.

This avoidance makes us defensive and creates a state of fear, upset and tunnel vision. It destroys our ability to find solutions and it forces us to act destructively. It destroys love and creates opposition and resistance against us.

Every area of life that isn’t working and every self-sabotaging behavior can be traced directly to the automatic, subconscious avoidance of this suppressed emotion. Ultimately, all destructive behavior comes from this hurt. Finding and healing this hurt is one of the most important things you can ever do.

As parents, we can’t prevent our children from getting this hurt, but there are things we can do to minimize the damage. Here are a few:

Let your children feel their hurt.

When we get upset, there are all sorts of chemical reactions that happen inside us. These reactions produce a very negative energy. When this negative energy is kept inside, it turns into suppressed emotion and sabotages our lives.

Fortunately, we were created with the natural ability to release this hurt. The best way to see how this works is to look at little children. When they get hurt, they cry and cry. Then, after they finish crying, the hurt is all gone. They are able to release their hurt quickly because they do something that we don’t notice. They feel their hurt willingly. This allows the hurt to come and go.

Unfortunately, we were born into a world that teaches us to suppress this hurt. We hear things like, “Big boys and girls don’t cry,” and “If you want something to cry about, I’ll give you something to cry about.” This destroys the natural healing process. Instead of releasing our negative emotion, the hurt turns into pain and it stays.

As parents, we can teach our children that it is okay to cry and that it is important to release negative emotion. Instead of teaching them to suppress their hurt, we can teach them to release it.

Teach them that it’s okay to be human

When we get this hurt, we lose our ability to be human. We then spend the rest of our lives trying to become a certain way, but no matter what we do, it’s never enough. You will never become worthy enough to get rid of the suppressed emotion of worthless, but you can create all sorts of suffering in the attempt.

The key to being effective in life is to allow yourself to be human. As you do this you take the pressure off. You then become creative, resourceful and very effective. So let your children know that it is okay to be human. It’s okay to make mistakes. This gives them the freedom and the love they need to become happy, productive adults.

To learn more about how to find and heal this hurt, read the book Get Your Power Back by Bill Ferguson and visit

Bill Ferguson has been featured on Oprah and is the author of How to Heal a Painful Relationship and Get Your Power Back. You can learn more about his work at


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  • PatsyAnn Says:

    Oh I loved this article!
    Letting children know it is safe to FEEL – wow, yes what happier healthier adults we would all be if our parents, family and our friends…didn’t tire of us FEELING so much.

    Then we would give our kids the chance to learn…discernment in what they feel, why they feel, what is important ABOUT what they feel…
    It is a Magic gateway.
    great read!

  • boltgirl Says:

    Helping hurt children is a role I have been given in the past few years. It is so new to me and I am so thankful for your many “clicks” of wisdom on Empowering Parents website. My hurt daughter arrived at the age of 13 into our home. It took her 8 months to cry after falling while rollerblading. I had to learn to show through my empathy how she should feel when in physical or emotional pain. She will still verbally deny that she is hurt. “I’m OK” is very common for her to say. She came in the house not long ago after falling off her bike. Her knee was scraped and her hands, and I was so glad to see tears running down her beautifl cheeks!
    I look forward to learning more on this website about parental empathy – especially an article/series that will help me learn to use it when I really dont feel any of it!

  • Seattle Family Mediator Says:

    During family mediations I often see this present in children who are affected by divorce. They need extra help processing the situation and it can be difficult because mom and dad are experiencing a lot of difficult emotions and change during that time as well.
    I also frequently see teens during parent/teen mediations who are struggling with self-worth. Often times that is the root of their behavior and it is overlooked by well-meaning parents.