Monday, 11 February 2013

Comfort when we are Hurting

I want to talk today about the days when we are feeling hurt, less than ourselves, lonely, grieving, and we have been knocked off our usual stance of balance.

This can happen for so many reasons, the list would be endless. Because of my past I feel this pain intensely and find it hard to keep going about my day. Whenever this lesson comes up for me I know it is another opportunity to grow and peel another layer from the onion covering the initial pain that these events reinforce. Once when I was young each event would just confirm to me that my thinking of being unlovable, not enough, not worthy of receiving and another layer would tightly be placed around my onion of initial pain. Over the years this keeps growing and the layers keep increasing, they were a protection from the pain when I was young, however now as an adult they are holding me back and no longer serve me as protection. The pain if we do not remove the layers of onion just intensifies and we are hurt deeply with a feeling of fatality.

Humans self esteems are fragile and we are able to wound each other with words and actions, we are capable of bullying each other, verbally abusing each other and assaulting those around us. Our actions can harm others at varying levels depending on the life experiences those people have had and any or no healing that they have done. We can also hurt ourselves by neglecting our health, abusing food and drugs, behaving recklessly.

We can suffer in these instances however it is never really about the problem at hand it is usually about learned beliefs and ideals we have been taught as a child. This can be from teachers, priests, parents, siblings anyone we held in regard. These people were passing onto us what they believed from their life experiences however these may not be right for us. We could have an argument with a spouse over something small like a mess around the house, but if we really look at the problem honestly it is more likely from their point of view about perhaps something their mother taught them about their self worth and pride in having a clean and tidy room, not really about what ever is laying around at the moment. Or course some of these beliefs will still be correct today however many are not. 

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So we can see from this that both the person being the aggressor and the person receiving the action are both coming from a place that has been created many years previously. The more time, energy and emotion you have put in, the greater the pain. The more you believed in that person’s integrity, honesty or commitment, the more you are likely to feel that you will never trust or open yourself up again.

For me I just freeze and am unable to function calmly and with the actions that I would wish to use when I am placed in an upsetting or confrontational position. This is because for me the few words spoken say in this case could be about an untidy house take me straight back to the fear and perceived harm of harsh words being spoken to me as a child from a domestically violent father. So my reaction has nothing to do with the words about a messy house and will seem over the top to the other person.

This reaction is the only thing we are able to work on, we can never change the other person that would have to come from a place within themselves to wish to change, however we can change ourselves. Over the years this is something I have worked on at great length and will continue to do so removing those layers of the onion as I go. This work can be done at any time and there is no need to have to wait for a time of pain to look at this, however the opportunity is definitely there at this time.

There is not a human on this earth who has not hurt, who is not damaged, or is not in pain. We don’t hurt in the same way, of course. And some people have suffered traumas that are hard to fathom.

At times, the pain of life can seem too much to bear, a husband leaves, a child dies, rape, assault, incest, drug abuse, disasters…all of these things hurt us to our core. And at times, all we can do is sit, cry, and try to survive. 

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Once some time passes and we feel we can look at the situation more calmly we can choose to take some actions. It is through them that growth happens, that light comes in. Pain will always be a part of life. But what we do with it, and how we reach out to each other, is what makes the difference. Are we focusing on the cracks, or can we see the light that allows us to grow?

Reaching out to people we know will support and nurture us begins the healing process. Others help us make sense of our suffering, support us, and remind us that, broken as we are, we are still loved. Let your walls crack open, and the light come in. Allow yourself to be heard, understood, comforted.

For me, contentment has little to do with what I have, it’s rather who I have around me that makes it meaningful. But I had to learn that before I could love others and enjoy their part in my life, I had to learn to love myself. I spent too much time trying to replace the love I should have had from my mother and father. Yet the painful void left by years of abandonment and abuse were never going to be eased by anyone or anything. The search for wholeness was never going to be successful because I was missing that which could only be found within me.

I overcame those things that had caused me to fall apart, and with it came the restoration of my inner-self. As I pursued with eagerness and intent, I learnt to refute those negative beliefs I had internalised since childhood. It started out with feel the fear and do it anyway. Everyone has their own uniqueness and therefore their own idea of what makes them whole.

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“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”  Mark Twain.

Anyone who has experienced an abusive relationship will know what it is like to be living in fear. Whether it’s physically, verbally or mental abuse, you learn to anticipate and react in a certain way. And when your worst fears are realised, you are made to believe it was your fault and you become uneasy of ‘the next time’. I grew into adulthood believing everyone had the potential to harm me in some way or another. Whether real or imagined, fear controlled my life.

I worked hard to develop the courage to accept, trust and love myself. As I did I was able to find the strength to confront and challenge fear. I would remind myself “To feel the fear and do it anyway.”
It doesn't mean that I don’t get scared. In fact I'm still a cautious person who finds it hard to take risks. And everyday situations like meeting new people still make me nervous. But I am no longer captive to fear and its negative consequences. Today I don’t fight the fear. I welcome it in the form of excitement and anticipation. I rise above it and use it as motivation. I go through it and come out the other side stronger.

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. ~ Nelson Mandela
Now that I live a life without fear and am living in gratitude for all that I have been given and the life I now lead. I am needing still to work on my reaction to negative situations. These throw me back to where I was prior to doing all my work and there I am standing in the headlights unable to move once again. So I thought I would share here some of my findings and work I am looking at to help change this situation.

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The damage of a life changing event or situation can create a victim mentality that unless challenged will keep you trapped in the past. The longer you remain attached to the pain the harder it is to break free. Your emotional state, whatever it is – anger, bitterness, jealousy, grief becomes your normality. Eventually it can become your refuge, because familiarity is safe.

The transition to survivor and living your life as the person you were meant to be is possible. Courage to take responsibility for your life again. Courage to take the risk of letting go. Courage to explore your inner-self.

Most of all you need courage to face the fear. The fear that if you mess with the wound that somehow it will be made worse and it will never heal. Or that your worst fears about yourself will be confirmed and you will never be whole again. You may believe that you haven’t the strength or the bravery to overcome a situation that has overwhelmed you for so long. You do.

It is only through experiencing your vulnerability that you can be emotionally restored. As long as I have a heart I can heal. And as long as I can heal I have a heart. Forgiveness is the key to freedom. It will release you to live the life as the person you were meant to be. Not the person held captive by the actions and words of someone else. It is a journey taken over many years requiring patience, determination and courage. Forgiving isn't a transient emotion, it’s a decision that continues over time. When another person’s actions have already stolen enough from you and you refuse to let them take any more. Even if there is no recognition of wrong-doing or apology, by forgiving you take control of a situation over which you had none.

Photo: A Healing Heart.
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“Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King.

Remember that forgiveness is not to be confused with being a doormat or allowing the offender to ‘get away with it’. Neither does it mean you should not express your grief and upset. It means that you are willing to move beyond your rawness and vulnerability. And you are willing to let go of the negativity and animosity that hold you emotionally hostage.

However, an everyday challenge can pose itself and suddenly any sense of tranquillity is a million miles away. It’s easy to become stressed, but with the right approach your inner calm can return. The recognition that it is a choice. Serenity isn't passivity. It’s not inertia. Rather, it’s a series of decisions and actions that deal positively with a negative situation. You chose to look at things differently. Accepting the fact that you can do nothing to change the situation. The other person isn't going to take responsibility so you have a choice to make. Feel bitter and hurt, or make a decision to overcome your disappointment and offence. You can accept the things you can not change and find the courage to change the things you can change. It requires a combination of determination, perseverance and prayer but it is worth it. It frees you of resentment and allowed you to move on.

It is necessary to clear up some of the misconceptions about forgiveness. Things forgiveness does not mean:
It does not mean approving of what someone else did.
It does not mean pretending that bad never took place.
It does not mean making excuses for other people’s bad behaviour.
It does not mean overlooking abuse.
It does not mean denying that others tried to hurt you.
It does not mean letting others walk all over you.
It does not mean forgetting the wrong that was done.
It does not mean pretending that you were never hurt.
It does not mean there must be a total reconciliation as if nothing ever happened.
It does not mean that you must tell the person that you have forgiven them.

“Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Confront Your Anger: Our initial reaction when someone hurts or betrays us is often anger. Maybe we feel violated or disrespected. We want to perhaps lash back and make the other person hurt. Refrain from doing that. Anger expressed when we are hurt can be distorted and damaging to our relationships. Take some time to handle your anger in another way. Talk with a trusted friend, counselor or life coach. Express your feelings in a journal or write a letter to the person who hurt you (but don't give it to them).

Seek Truth and Understanding: How can you better understand the person who hurt you? What truth do you need to know about the other person? Sometimes people hurt us because they are hurting too. Other times people hurt us unintentionally. Ask for the truth and be willing to hear, accept and embrace it. Share your truth and help the other person understand you.

Search for the Lesson: Experiencing pain and suffering is not easy. However, there is usually a lesson to be learned from our pain. What aren't or weren't you paying attention to? What does this experience teach you about yourself and the other person? What changes need to be made as a result of your pain? While the human drama includes pain, we have a choice in how to view it.

Give Grace: We are all human, and we all make mistakes. Some mistakes are worse than others, and some mistakes hurt more than others. Most of us are doing the best we can in any given situation. People make choices based on their past, their belief systems, and the past and collective thought of humanity. Unfortunately, people sometimes make choices that hurt us. We need grace when we make choices that hurt our loved ones, and our loved ones need grace as well.

Accept the Love Deposits: When we are hurt, it is sometimes difficult to accept the apologies and attempts to make amends from our loved ones. Maybe your guard has been thrown up and you're unsure if you can trust again. One way to heal a wounded heart is to allow yourself to truly feel the sincere love deposits that are made to your emotional bank account. Maybe the love will come from the person who hurt you, but maybe it will not. Seek out and embrace the love that is being given to you.

Grieve the Sadness: With hurt comes sadness. Maybe you feel sad about what happened. Perhaps you feel sad about what you didn't receive. Sometimes the sadness is an indication that you need to grieve the loss of a dream. Allow yourself to feel the sadness - let the tears flow. Crying is a very cathartic ritual.

Set Appropriate Boundaries: When our loved ones hurt us continually, we may need to set boundaries for healing to take place. A child may need to go to his room when his anger is destructive. You may need to end a conversation with someone who is hurting you. It's even possible that you need to end a relationship that is repeatedly hurting your self-esteem. Healing cannot take place if we don't take care of ourselves. And people will not begin treating us with respect until we respect ourselves.

Forgive: Lastly, we need to forgive so that we can move on with life. Forgiving does not mean that we condone our loved ones behavior. It does not mean that we allow others to keep hurting us. To forgive means to give up all resentment and the desire to punish the other person. In our heart, it means we've cancelled the debt we feel others owe us.

Sometimes the only way to know love is to experience what love is not. Whatever the question, challenge or decision, love is always the answer. God is perfect love, and His desire is for us to model His character. Healing from hurts moves us closer to love. 

Copyright © 2005 Lori Radun, CEC
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Identifying Emotional Wounds

The first thing we need to do is identify the problem, and realize the need for inner healing. Below is a common list of common symptoms to look for in somebody who has an emotional wound:

Inner rawness: there's often a sense of inner rawness and hurt that doesn't seem to go away.

Irritability: it's easy to become irritable with others, even if they aren't doing anything wrong!

Little or no tolerance: there is a low tolerance issue with others, where you expect and demand from them.

Feelings always rising up: feelings of anger, hate, resentment, etc. seem to "rise up" within you at the slightest offense from others.

Overly sensitive about an event in your past: If there are events in your past which cause you to become very sensitive or angry, or even cause you to lash out, then it is likely revealing a deep emotional wound tied in with that event or memory.

Hard to forgive: it becomes very difficult, if not impossible to love and therefore forgive others. It can also be hard to forgive and love yourself.

Hard to feel loved: it is hard to clearly see and realize the love of others in your life. You may be surrounded by people who love you, but it can be difficult to fully feel and receive that love. There seems to be a wall up that blocks the flow of love into your life.

Lashing out: when there's an inner wound that has festered, it becomes easy to lash out or have sudden outbursts of anger, hate, resentment, etc. You may find it easy to lash out at people who love you, and have done you no harm.

Self-hate: many times when a person is hurt from past abuse, they will begin to think that perhaps what happened to them, was deserved because of something they did or the way that they were. This is not true. Abuse is never acceptable, even if a child was being out of order. Parental love disciplines and corrects, but never abuses.

Easily frustrated: because an inner turmoil that an inner wound causes, it is easy to become easily frustrated with everyday chores and responsibilities.

Escapism: as a result of inner turmoil, it is easy to desire to escape or suppress reality. This can be in the form of overeating, drinking, smoking, spending binges, etc.

Cutting: a person who is a cutter usually has an alter inside the person who is holding much pain, and needs to release the pain or it honestly feels that it deserves the pain.

Retaliation urges: because of built-up hate and anger as a result of unforgiveness, somebody who has a festering inner wound will find it easy to retaliate or snap back at those who offend them or step on their toes.

Irresponsible behavior: inner pain has a way of consuming a person's mind, and eventually this can take on a careless approach to life. It is hard to feel good about yourself if you have an inner wound, and if you don't feel good about yourself, it will begin to show in your lifestyle.

Irrational expectations of others: somebody who has been wounded may set high expectations for those around them. They feel that others ought to hold up to unrealistic standards, and are very intolerable to any mistakes made.

Perfectionism: a person who has an emotional wound may also be performance driven. Perhaps they felt like no matter what they did, they could never please a parent or authority figure, and later on in life, that rejection wound causes the person to be a performer to the point where they are never satisfied and burned out by their efforts.

Feelings of hopelessness: this is also a common result of unresolved inner wounds you become an easy target for feelings of hopelessness.

Drivenness: when you suffer from an emotional wound, it can create a sense of void in your life's meaning, thus driving you to find meaning and purpose and happiness. This could be in the form of college degrees, careers, financial success, etc. You find yourself chasing what you think will bring true happiness and purpose to your life.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD: it is my belief that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) often involves emotional wounds that were never fully healed. This is especially true with people who have bondages to self-hate, self-resentment, self-unforgiveness, etc.
Photo: Thank you to Jessica Sunasee for sharing this post.
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Keys to inner healing

If you're going to receive healing for an emotional wound, you need to first be honest with yourself and what has happened. Let's get started by answering some basic questions:

Who is it that you hate or blame? Be honest with yourself; there's somebody in your past that you, or an alter within you, is holding something against. Be specific, and go back as far as you can. If you can figure out when this wound began, and who is responsible, it is the first step to receiving healing for the wound.

What did they do to you? Make a list of everything that was done to you, which you still hold against them in your heart. What might be a list of things which you still hold onto in your heart? What things can't you seem to easily forget? I'm not referring to a list of people whom you haven't forgiven, but rather a list of people/events where you just cannot seem to release it from your heart.

Don't try to cover up their mistake and say that it was alright. If they did you wrong, then there's no getting around that. Being honest about what was done to you is very important. What things have you done, that you deeply regret? Make a list of things that you still, to this day, regret doing. If you have any feelings of self-hate, self-unforgiveness, etc., then you need to be honest and figure out why you hate yourself.

Is there anything in your past that you feel excessively embarrassed or ashamed of? This is a common cause for self-hate. If there are things which you still haven't forgiven yourself of, then now is a good time to make a list of those things, so that you can effectively forgive and release the hate held secretly within your heart against yourself.

It is vital that we get right down to the roots, and lay out the specific reasons why there are wounds that have not yet healed. Spiritual infections, like natural infections, will fester and grow worse when in the dark; it is important to bring the issues to the light, so they can no longer fester. If you cannot be honest with yourself, and bring these things out into the light, then you're only hindering the healing of those wounds and bringing about healing in your mind and emotions.

Photo: "Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you." Lao Tsu
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The first thing that you want to settle, is any feelings of guilt and shame. When dealing with a physical wound, what is the first thing you do? Cleanse it from germs so that it can properly heal. When dealing with spiritual or emotional wounds, carrying around baggage (guilt, shame, fear, etc.) makes the healing process much more difficult. Carrying around a burden of shame is a sure way to hinder the inner healing process because it mentally separates us from the healing. If we want to freely receive healing for our damaged emotions, then we need to settle it in our minds that we can not be forgiven.

One of the biggest keys to receive healing for damaged emotions, is that our freewill allows us to be healed and restored to wholeness even more than you do! What you want is to open up those wounds so that they can be healed. As long as you hold them in darkness, they will never fully heal. If you had a physical wound, and it turned into an infection, and you merely put a band aid over the wound, would that solve the problem? Of course not! You need to take that mask off, expose it to the light, and apply the healing and germ-killing light into that wound so that it can heal.

Developing a thankful attitude is another big key to receiving healing for our emotional wounds. Thankfulness leads to trust - if you are thankful for what is given you, then you will find it easy to trust those areas of your life. Thankfulness is also a big key to overcoming rejection issues. An unthankful heart is prone to unforgiving, unloving, resentful, and all sorts of hateful feelings against others. It is a poison to our emotional health and ability to receive the healing to our wounds and hurts. 

Begin to be thankful for the little things which were created for you to enjoy. Little things such as the birds singing in the trees or your pet cat or dog - they were made for us to enjoy! It is hard, if not impossible to be thankful and unforgiving at the same time. When we are thankful then we will naturally forgive those who wrong us - that love is contagious and will flow through us. We cannot honestly look at what has been done for us, and not overflow with thankfulness in our heart! Becoming thankful is a huge key to breakthrough if you struggle with unforgiveness. Unforgiveness and unthankfulness are closely related.

Photo: Today and always...

<3 Sylvia, Daily Dose
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When we trust a tremendous amount of peace and healing can then take place. Fear will keep a person holding onto what must be released. This is another reason why we must come to know the true good and loving nature of a pure heart. Another key to receive inner healing, especially from a background or root of rejection, is coming to a place where you know that the universe/creator loves you dearly and has your best interest in mind.

Another key to inner healing is not to meditate or continue to think about what was done to you. Once you forgive, don't continue to think about how badly you were wronged. You will cause emotional wounds to fester when you choose to continue thinking about what was done to you. Don't get me wrong, we are to face what was done to us, head on, honestly, and don't deny what was done to us, but once we give all the pain and hurt away, then we need to leave it there. If you have two dogs, and you feed one but leave the other to starve, then which one will be around? The one that you feed of course! We need to make a solid choice not to dwell/feed upon what was done to us, as it will re-enforce the reason as to why we are hurt or angry. This is a very important key to receiving healing from emotional wounds.

As absurd as this sounds, you need to revisit the pain! By going back to the place where the pain was formed, and revisiting that wound in your soul, it will allow you to truly and fully forgive, thus pulling the pain up at it's root. The job can be half-done if you simply say, "I forgive them" without thinking of what you are really forgiving them of. When you can revisit that pain, and forgive out of the love in your heart, then your healing will come naturally! You shouldn't have to keep forgiving the same person for the same offence that took place 10 years ago; we need to reach the point of pain, and forgive at the scene of the accident. I'm not saying that we must revisit the same physical place, but rather the memories and place in your mind where the abuse or pain took place.

Remember, it is not what was done to us that keeps us in bondage, it is our reaction to what was done to us which causes all the spiritual bondage and torment!

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