Hilber Psychological Services
Therapy for Children, Teens, & Adults in San Diego
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Hilber Psychological Services

San Diego Therapists | Child Therapist | Couples Counseling | ADHD | Anxiety | Parenting | Behaviors | Relationships | Marriage and Family Therapists | Psychologists | Professional Clinical Counselors

Verbal Darts

Do you ever blurt out something hurtful to someone in anger?  This is what I call a verbal dart.  These darts are said to make others feel as bad as we do, although we cannot make them feel how we feel.  Instead, we trigger other feelings of hurt, anger, and an unhealthy argument. Some people are really good at finding what hurts others, and some may not be able to hit the target quite right. Generally speaking, those that are competent at hitting targets with their verbal darts have bigger and more prominent targets themselves.  These people may be triggered by thoughts, feelings, or actions that push their buttons.  Once their own button is pushed, verbal darts can be thrown for various reasons, including wanting the other person to feel how they do (bad), wanting to hurt them because they were hurt (revenge-like), or for some other goal.  Darts are typically not thrown when there are no reasons to throw them.

Buttons are generally installed by the family culture via the value system, behaviors, emotions, and interactions within each family.  Although no one can be the same person and have the same buttons, this means that family members may know what buttons to press and where to throw the darts because they have similar views and values.

Verbal darts, which are meant to hurt in some way, tend to be thrown for the wrong reasons.  One cannot make another feel exactly how they're feeling.  That's why we have empathy - so we can try to understand how it is like to be them and feel that way.  We can understand what it's like to feel sad, mad, frustrated, etc, but we cannot feel it exactly the same way another person does.  Each person has their own knowledge, perceptions, experiences, and culture of our family, which is unique only to that person.  Unfortunately, due to this verbal darts are just painful and this pain cannot be shared exactly how it's felt.

I have a challenge for you.  Ideally, no one would throw verbal darts.  But we live in the real world and individuals get to have their feelings whether they are hurt, angry, frustrated, irritated, and so on.  When we are hurt we want others to understand how we feel.

Your challenge is to minimize the amount of verbal darts you throw.  One way to do this is to talk to a professional to decrease the need for someone to understand your anger/hurt/etc. Or even to decrease or minimize your buttons. And if you happen to throw a verbal dart at a point of frustration, it's a great idea to apologize for it. Apologies can go very far when they're sincere and help you to change your decisions or behavior in the future.

For help with minimizing your darts, contact us or visit Hilber Psychological Services for more information.