What I am tired of hearing is that we should "rub some dirt in it." Yes, we are not supposed to coddle the ego of another person, but we are also supposed to be considerate of their feelings. The ego and the heart should never be confused. The ego of a person is their own sense of importance in relation to other people, and the heart is the ultimate motivator for how a person keeps their inner drive to pursue their interests and goals.
Using words of affirmation, people tend to confuse the ego and the heart to be the same part of the personality of a person. We tell people that we cherish them because that is words of affirmation. However, flattery can be confused to be genuine words of affirmation—words like "you are the most important person in this group, you're cuter/smarter/funnier than anyone else" are fluffs to the ego that do not actually help people. Inflating a person's ego is mostly not synonymous with words of affirmation. While the metaphorical heart holds the dearest parts of life for a person, the ego is like a trophy case with a window display for every "trophy" of that person. People may want a trophy, but they need a heart. We need the part of our personality that upholds our values and sense of what is important to us. People seek to protect the love they have for their families, friends, and other parts that reinforce their sense of self. The ego, however, can be misconstrued as a more important part of the personality even though it is not.
Hurting someone's feelings can actually cause physical damage. This is because social rejection is usually stressful for the people that must undergo it. According to Psychology Today, all emotions have a motor component.
However, the most important reason why feelings are important is the same reason why we equate our feelings to our heart in the middle of our chest.
The truth is that both emotional pain and physical pain are identified to be synonymous by the brain. This is due to the neural circuits within the brain being wired to treat both emotional and physical pain as the same entity. Emotional and physical pain are both interpreted within the anterior cingulate cortex. Guess what else the anterior cingulate cortex coincidentally controls? Heart rate and blood pressure. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE. The anterior cingulate cortex also happens to play a part in decision-making, evaluation processes, emotional regulation, preparation tasks, AND error detection.
The implications for the same exact area in the brain to regulate both our heart and our feelings is vital: the physical health of our heart is correlated with the emotional health regulated by our anterior cingulate cortex. Another implication includes that our decision-making is heavily intertwined with the physical health of our heart as well as our emotions.
This is why there is a syndrome called Broken Heart syndrome. When a person undergoes enough stress from painful emotions, such as a surprising break-up or the death of a loved one, that person can develop Broken Heart syndrome. This is when one area of the heart has difficulty functioning, so the rest of the areas try to compensate and keep the heart pumping. Emotions have been proven to influence the heartbeat and heart pressure, so to hurt someone's feelings can be considered to also hurt someone's physical heart.
However, notice how the ego has nothing to do with the anterior cingulate cortex. A person's ego has nothing to do with the physical regulation of someone's heart. You can hurt someone's ego without hurting their heart.
This is why people call most of their emotional attachments and meaningful experiences to be a "part of their heart." Each of these attachments and experiences did have an influence on their physical heart. This is because both the heart and emotions include regulation with the anterior cingulate cortex.