The Pain Trap

Emotional wounds can consume us when we withhold the nurturing they require. Just like physical wounds, emotional wounds need our attention. Without proper care we can experience a kind of emotional infection. Like an infection, the trauma we’ve experienced spreads into other areas of our lives.

Research shows that people who’ve processed the trauma they’ve experienced are better parents, have healthier relationships and attach more readily to their children than people who’ve experienced similar amounts of trauma and have left it unprocessed.

Unprocessed trauma often results in strained relationships with others and difficulty attending to our own needs.

Processing our pain is part of the core work of being human. “Processing” means acknowledging our experiences. What we felt, what we needed at the time and what those experiences mean for us now.

Choosing to honor your experiences, process them, own them and let them go, heals the wound.

You cannot appropriately honor the pain of another without honoring your own pain.

If you choose to gloss over your pain, ignore it, push it down, diminish it, or disregard it, you will find your pain surfacing when you witness someone else’s.  You may find yourself overwhelmed by emotion. In order to defend yourself from the emotional pain, you may shut out the other person and their pain, or you may attempt to rescue them as you wish someone had rescued you.

Coming to terms with your pain requires the ability to tolerate the emotions that come up for you when you think about the past. When you allow yourself to work through painful experiences, you often re-experience intense emotion including sadness, anger, frustration and even rage. The fear of getting lost in these emotions can be overwhelming.

Many people find it helpful to work with a therapist as they begin processing painful experiences. A good therapist will provide a safe place for you to begin working through these intense emotions. He or she will help you structure the process so you can work through your past without being overwhelmed by it.

While working through past trauma can feel scary and overwhelming, the payoff is indescribable. Healing your wounds is like releasing yourself from a set of invisible chains.

Learn more about choosing the right therapist for you here.

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