You’ve undoubtedly heard the expression “time heals all wounds.” While the saying is often used as a form of comfort or condolence for tragedy, unfortunately it isn’t true. As a certified life coach, I frequently talk with people who are still carrying hurts. Some from a few months ago, and others from thirty or forty years ago. In these cases, it almost seems as if time makes these wounds worse. The truth is, time only extends the pain if the issue is not dealt with. Many people experience emotional trauma during their childhood due to a variety of factors such as neglect, abuse, abandonment, or loss of parent. Emotional pain during adulthood may occur due to the end of a relationship, divorce, loss of a loved one, being a victim of crime, substance abuse, retrenchment or loss of employment.
Emotional pain is often described as self inflicted. It has been said that emotional pain lasts only 12 minutes from the time it starts to the time that it ends. This is not necessarily a psychological fact, but what is true is that emotional pain in general can be looked at as self-affliction to begin with. Emotional pain is any pain stemming from “emotion.” We experience emotions as a result of how we perceive events in our lives. So technically if we were able to change our automatic cognitive interpretation of our circumstances, we would be able to control any and all of our feelings.That is because it is the personal interpretation of the events that causes the pain, not the event itself. Some who suffer from emotional pain may find themselves unable to stop dwelling on past hurts and disappointments, and may struggle to let go of the painful memories. They may find themselves in a cycle of guilt and punishment – reliving the event over and over again in their minds.
You cannot control most of the major influences on your life, but you do have absolute control over the meaning you attach to it ~what they mean to you. If you control the meaning of events in your life by creating as much value as you can, you will have a sense of purpose and personal power. If you control it by devaluing yourself or others, you create a chronic sense of powerlessness, characterized by roller-coaster rides of adrenalin-driven resentment that crash into depressed moods.
Rather than focus on the possible causes of pain and vulnerability, try to sort out what each hurtful incident means to you and what you can do to heal and improve. But do this important assessment with self-compassion, not self-criticism.
View how our past experiences determine the “fee scale”. Realize that you assign the cost for each one. You determine when and how you have PAID the price in full for each one. What happens when payment was never rendered? How will you know?
Writing is an amazing tool for expressing hidden concepts that will process hurt and emotion from the emotional realm of the brain to the literary- clarity realm of expression on paper. The emotional and physical benefits of writing including enhanced immune function, improved cardio-vascular function, fewer doctor visits, improved lung function for asthma suffers, decreased arthritis pain and symptoms, better sleep and decreased pain for cancer patients, improved liver function for heavy drinkers, higher white cell levels in AIDS patients, increased happiness, sense of well-being, and satisfaction with life, decreased worry, anxiety and depression, more self-confidence, smoother relationships and better problem solving. Often writing can help provide a purpose in difficult experiences. The process allows you to reach out and share those experiences with others. In the Journal of Clinical Psychology, James Pennebaker, Ph.D., and Janet Seagal, Ph.D., of the University of Texas at Austin, reports that people who write about personal details are healthier than those who don’t. Write about the following:
- Challenges are there to teach us a lesson. Whatever we experience in life will allow us to learn a valuable lesson to change ourselves and the world. What lesson did I learn through my challenge?
- We experience what we put out. When we express anger towards someone else, we feel the pain. Next time you express an emotion, take notice in how it makes you feel on the inside. Write about what expressions you have had toward others. How did it make you feel?
- There are miracles happening all around us, yet, we fail to see them. Even the happiest of events, can be forgotten when we’re consumed with problems. List some of the miracles you have experienced today?
- Our problems are rooted in our perception of an external circumstance. They don’t actually exist, its what we have convinced ourselves of and believe to be true. Challenge some of those belief systems. What things have you convinced yourself, that are not absolute fact?
- We suffer, unnecessarily, in advance of an anticipated outcome or event. We suffer in advance of a possible scenario that may or may not take place in the future. Write out the worst case scenario and best possible outcome of your challenge ahead of time. Often seeing it written allows you see its not always as bad as you think.
- There is nothing we can’t handle, even death. It doesn’t matter how much suffering we endure ahead of time, when the anticipated event happens, it happens, and we move on. The actual event is rarely as bad as we had anticipated. We are stronger than we think. List all of the events you have made it through. Remind yourself and say “I AM STILL HERE”.
Every single day, we are faced with opportunities to choose pain over joy, Live a life free of hurting others, free of shame, guilt, fear, free from hollow resolves and one failure after another. It’s priceless.