Dr. Venus Nicolino Says To Do This if You’ve Hurt Someone


Life can get messy, and many times that messiness emerges from the wreckage of a relationship gone wrong. While the end of a romance or close friendship can hurt both people, it’s usually one person who does most of the hurting. Sometimes, intentionally or not, that person is you. If you find yourself in this position, Dr. Venus Nicolino says it’s a clear signal you need to assess yourself and make changes.

It’s also a time to understand that you cannot make a person forgive you, but you can make the effort to forgive yourself and do better going forward, says Dr. Nicolino, the bestselling author and businesswoman who has dedicated her professional career to helping others improve their lives.

Dr. Nicolino, sometimes referred to as simply Dr. V, is known for her irreverent, funny personality and no-nonsense guidance. She works hard to counter the overwhelming amount of bad advice available on the internet and at the bookstore. She takes this issue on directly in her bestselling book, Bad Advice: How to Survive and Thrive in an Age of Bulls–t.

When it comes to the issue of hurting others, Dr. V says it involves acknowledgment of what you did, acceptance of how the other person reacts, and focusing on improvement in the future.

Dr. Venus Nicolino Talks About The Consequences of Hurting Others

If you’ve hurt someone, you might find yourself focusing primarily on getting that person’s forgiveness. But Dr. Nicolino says healing can only start once you face the consequences of your actions and accept the lack of control you have over how the other person reacts.

“Would you prefer a loved one forgive or forget the hurt you caused? Tough choice, right? Well, guess what? Once we hurt somebody, we don’t get that choice,” Dr. Nicolino said in a video on her popular TikTok channel. “And worse, we might not get either one. Our actions did the damage, and we can’t take back what we did — or erase the pain.”

This is the case whether you’ve hurt a romantic partner, friend, or family member. While apologizing for your actions is certainly appropriate, you have no control over whether the other person accepts your apology or offers forgiveness.

“It’s one hell of a learning lesson, an in-your-face lesson about how you can affect others for a lifetime. That kind of hurt takes major repair. Hard work that may not pay off in the end — not with those past relationships, anyway,” said Dr. Venus Nicolino, who holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

Rather than wallow in self-pity or drown yourself in guilt, Dr. Nicolino suggests that people who hurt others should do the hard work of unearthing the reasons why they did what they did, even if the past relationship is not salvageable.

“You should still put in the work to change and forgive yourself, because that choice is still available to you, to us all,” she said. “Sometimes all we can do is erase our karmic debt and hope it helps rebuild old bridges. And if not, surprise yourself with beautiful new bridges you can start building today.”

Why Do People Hurt Others Emotionally?

Dr. Venus Nicolino says that people often may have little understanding of why they did something to hurt another person. This is true whether it involves harsh words or emotionally hurtful actions. 

Why do people do it? There are many possible reasons. That can include low empathy, in which a person has an inability to see things from another’s perspective, and self-dislike, in which people simply don’t like themselves and project that dislike on others.

Some also suffer from low self-esteem and place little value on what they do, not realizing that their words or actions could hurt other people’s feelings. They may also seek power in the relationship by putting the other person down to make themselves feel superior, sometimes even doing this publicly.

In these cases, the person causing the hurt has underlying reasons for what they do. Identifying those issues and dealing with them can help in future relationships, even if it’s too late to repair the past relationship.

Dr. Venus Nicolino

The Emotional Minefield of the Holidays

These issues surrounding what to do if you’ve hurt someone, and doing the work to change yourself for the better, have a particular resonance as the holidays approach. That’s because while the holidays ostensibly focus on thoughtful gifts and ornaments, in reality they often involve hurtful rifts and arguments.

Rarely in life will you find a more fertile ground for potentially hurting someone’s feelings, or getting hurt yourself. The chances multiply like snowflakes. Dr. Venus Nicolino says part of the reason the holidays are tough is because of how they are set up in the first place.

“You are being pushed to feel something that perhaps you don’t feel,” Dr. Nicolino said in an interview. So, ‘’Tis the season to be jolly,’ but do I feel jolly? No, no, I don’t feel jolly. That gap between what the season is pushing us to feel and what you actually feel gets much wider.”

This is why the holiday blues are a real thing. Brought on by everything from high expectations for the holidays to financial pressures and lack of sleep, the holiday blues can trigger anxiety and depression. That, in turn, can lead to lashing out and arguments. 

Dr. Venus Nicolino said people should keep in mind that they must show themselves the same attention during the holidays that they show others. 

During the holiday season, Dr. Nicolino said that people should “take advantage of instilling your sense of self-care and your sense of boundaries. You’re allowed to say ‘no’ to that family gathering, you’re allowed to say ‘no’ to people’s energy you don’t like, you’re allowed to say ‘no.’”

But if you do end up causing the hurt during the holidays — or any other time — Dr. Venus Nicolino said you should focus on why you did what you did and make positive changes. That way, you reduce the risk that you’ll repeat your hurtful actions.