Emotional pain: Is yours hijacking you?
It just wouldn’t let up! I couldn’t find any escape. It was the only thing I seemed to think about. I thought I was doing everything I could to try not to think about it. And yet, there I was, completely consumed! Hijacked by my pain. I would try to convince myself that I was okay. That I was over it. But as soon as I opened my mouth, out spewed a whole lot of garbage I immediately wished I could take back. If I was to be completely honest, I probably didn’t need to open my mouth for the negativity to be present. It was just there. It was oozing out of me.
After months, even years of emotional hurt and pain, and existing in a toxic environment, I couldn’t pretend anymore. I couldn’t hide that I was wounded and hurting really bad! I didn’t want to be around those people who somehow always found a way of justifying their words and actions. They’d say one thing to my face and another to everyone else. My trust had been eroded and my skepticism radar was on high alert most of the time! As a result I was seriously STUCK! I couldn’t move forward. Pain consumed me on the inside!
A Common Experience
I know that I’m not alone in the experience described. That’s a fact. Many, if not most of us, at some stage experience deep emotional wounding that seems impossible at the time to escape from. This wounding for some takes place very early in life and they may not have any recollection of a time they didn’t feel that kind of emotional pain. For others it happens later in life. There’s a distinct recollection of a moment when ‘something’ changed. A moment we felt differently than ever before.
So there’s deep emotional trauma and there’s emotional pain that carries real (or perceived) hurt, and the result is offence, bitterness, anger, isolation, and potentially a whole range of other emotional side-effects.
This time I’m referring to the latter. When stuff happens our heart is hurt. And there is grief. There is pain. In some cases a vow is made that we’ll never allow someone to treat us like that ever again! In that instance a wall is constructed around our heart. To protect our heart from being hurt like that once more. In that moment there’s a severing. Maybe it’s in a friendship or a relationship. Perhaps it’s a whole community. Regardless, people are shut out to protect your heart from allowing that kind of pain to be inflicted again.
The Effects of Emotional Pain
Again, for the purpose of this piece I’m talking about emotional pain (as opposed to deep emotional trauma). If this is where we choose to stay, this is likely to become a pattern that is repeated in our life over and over again.
What do I mean by that? If we continue building walls around our heart each time we have emotional pain inflicted upon us, then we will wind up feeling very isolated, alone and potentially very broken.
Straight up I am going to say that I’m NOT advocating you let anyone walk all over you, or treat you consistently badly! No Way!!! That’s emotional abuse, and it is always necessary to seek help and take action on that kind of behaviour. Always!
I AM talking about how we take care of our own hearts without building great fortresses to keep others out. What often happens is when we have a wall to keep out someone toxic in our life, we’re potentially keeping out those who really care about us, and others in the future who may add incredible value to our lives. Often this is due to the fact that healthy boundaries are not well understood, and therefore not implemented.
Like attracts Like
At the same time we will often attract people into our world who have a similar hurt. The common thread may be the person who is seen as the perpetrator. It may be an organization or community. It may be a similar type of person. We’ve all heard the saying “like attracts like” right? It’s as true of negative attractions as it is those that are positive.
Positive connections around pain that produce effective change are also possible in some instances. For example, those gathering to raise awareness of domestic violence and greater advocacy for those affected. So many examples could be listed right here!
I’ve also discovered through my own experience and in doing life with people that when we focus on the emotional pain inside of us, repeatedly talk about it to others, or go over and over it in our mind, it actually causes the wound/s to sink even deeper.
Again, a little clarification here. I’m definitely an advocate of the power of validation. It’s one of our basic emotional human needs! The absence of it is a major cause of our emotional wounding in the first place! Having our pain validated for the purpose of helping us acknowledge what has happened to inflict the emotional pain we’re experiencing is a vital part of the healing process. However, being validated is not about giving us permission to stay in that place of pain. The pain is there. That’s a given. It may have been inflicted upon us. Not always our fault. Or we may have contributed to it. Regardless, engaging in the process of healing from that emotional pain is a CHOICE. A choice and responsibility that only we, the person carrying the pain, can make.
Emotional Pain: Is yours hijacking you? Here’s how to stop it.
I’ve learned that this is a process. The pain we experience can very often be a key factor to unlocking our purpose. It has undoubtedly been the driving force behind me discovering my purpose and running with it, after years of navigating deep emotional pain I’d carried since childhood. As I’ve heard story after story, it’s clear that this is the case for countless others.
Following are a few key actions I’ve discovered are essential to stopping your pain from hijacking your purpose. Having the potential to then launch you into living out your purpose as you choose.
How to Achieve your Purpose and Grow Self-Awareness
It would be remiss of me to not begin with the importance of SELF-AWARENESS in this process. It goes hand in hand with ALL the points I’m about to make. It’s kind of like the umbrella over all of them. To implement any of these next three points, SELF-AWARENESS is a MUST! If not already present, at the very least there needs to be a willingness to engage in growing one’s self-awareness.
1. Commit to Growing your Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Do you believe that your intellectual and emotional intelligence is fixed? If your answer is ‘Yes’, then this is probably where you will ‘jump ship’. However, if you believe that both can be influenced, grow and change, then this is where you can tune in and learn more. Check out this link to discover 10 ways to enhance your emotional intelligence: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-mind-your-body/201201/10-ways-enhance-your-emotional-intelligence
I strongly believe our emotions exist to be expressed and engaged with. Not conquered or gotten rid of. It’s when we learn HOW to engage with and express them in a healthy manner that our EQ grows. Contrary to some mis-interpretations of this concept, it is not about our heart ruling our mind, but the healthy intersection of both. (When I speak of ‘managing emotions’ please do not misinterpret that as stuffing the so-called negative emotions down. That is NOT a healthy practice at all in the long term).
For some of us, it’s likely that this will mean having to un-learn and re-learn a number of understandings or ‘normals’ that we’ve grown accustomed to through our lives. For others, you may be on your way but need a few reminders, and even some solid accountability to help you move past the ‘blocks’ that keep coming up (which we’ll discuss that next).
2. Discover your BLOCKS
Many people remain unaware of their ‘blocks’ because they’ve grown so used to living with them. It’s become their ‘normal’. So, the starting point here is this. Stop or slow down and take notice of what is going on in your thoughts. Particularly when you notice your mood spiral downwards or you’re not coping with certain people or situations. What is the story you’re telling yourself? This is a vital step in this process. Without this you will find yourself going around that same familiar, yet undesirable ‘mountain’ again and again and again!
In order to move forward to, to see any real and lasting change take place we need to know what’s stopping us from going there. The beliefs, people, historical events and fears. Once this is identified there’s usually a need to go on and develop more helpful, life-giving beliefs that will support you in your journey to prevent that ‘past pain’ from hijacking your purpose and your future.
Levels of Self-Awareness
We all have levels of awareness around our own thinking and behavior. Unless we’ve spent a lot of time working through the factors I’ve already discussed, it’s almost certain that there’ll be areas of our functioning we’re completely unaware of.
Some of those areas others will also be unaware of. But it’s almost certain there’ll be different areas of your functioning you’re ‘blissfully unaware’ of, while others will be greatly aware of them. Sound a little scary? It can be if we’re unwilling to engage in the process. But this journey is about closing that gap. Growing such a level of ‘self-awareness’ that we’re open to hearing about and addressing those things about ourselves that we’d rather deny even exist. Let’s never be so naïve as to think there’s nothing for us to keep working on.
This is where I make a segue into my next point…
3. Seek out and surround yourself with key people who will help you grow
One of the most valuable resources I’ve discovered through my life journey is people. One of the most limiting resources I’ve discovered in this journey is this. People. It really depends on who we choose to do that journey with as to whether we grow or not!
In recent years I’ve made very intentional choices about the people who I spend a lot of time with, and who I allow to speak into my life. Let me say that this hasn’t been without some heartache along the way. Honestly, it feels like it’s been a bit of trial and error in many ways. I’d consider myself a fairly trusting person and perhaps an over-sharer in my past, which has meant that I’ve had to grow my ‘discernment’ muscle along the way. Who I can and cannot entrust with the deep things of my heart.
In so many ways I see this as a life-long journey. Let’s be realistic. For many of us we don’t have dozens of people like this in our world. It’s more likely that a small handful of these people can be found in our lifetime. Ones who are genuinely there to offer an exchange that is both nurturing and challenging at the same time. With the purpose to see you grow! That takes wisdom, objectivity, empathy and an ability to see from another’s perspective. Truthfully, not everyone possesses these qualities in abundance.
Professionals can be your Key People too
I couldn’t go any further without also suggesting that one (or maybe more) of those supports may be professional people who become your ‘go-to’ to work through some of these important factors in the process. Especially when it comes to uncovering those areas of ‘unawareness’ spoken about in my previous point. Having a trusted counsellor/therapist who you can go to when you need to process something at a deeper level is so invaluable. See here for some brief stories from individual’s gaining freedom from their emotional pain https://www.novocounselling.com.au/testimonials/
Pain to Purpose
So what can we conclude here? Pain in life is inevitable. It’s part of the journey. We may not always be responsible for how it comes upon us, but sometimes we may play a part. How we move forward is OUR RESPONSIBILITY. Growing our self-awareness and emotional intelligence is OUR RESPONSIBILITY. Choosing who we work it through with is OUR RESPONSIBILITY.
Pain serves a purpose. Without it you are in danger. What you cannot feel, you cannot take care of”Rebecca Solnit
As we allow ourselves to identify and acknowledge our pain, feel our pain and move through our pain, the negative impact that pain once had on our lives to fuel destruction, may just be turned around to bring greater meaning and purpose to your life (and the lives of many others) than ever before.
Emotional Pain: Is yours hijacking you? If your answer is YES, what are you going to do for yourself today to stop it?
With you on the journey!