Today the speaker at my university spoke to the women on campus about how we fear expressing inner pain. Normally, women sessions focus on modesty, so hearing another topic was so refreshing. Plus this issue is one that I struggle with ever day.
Pain is a huge part of everyone’s life. Being human means that you will experience physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional hurt. Some of these troubles are easier to talk about than others. For example, people generally can open up about a broken leg or bruised elbow. However, having vivid flashbacks after abuse or feeling worthless after a break-up are hard to be honest about usually.
Why is it that these inner pains – often more anguishing than physical ones – seem wrong to discuss? This morning, we discussed a few of the reasons. We do not feel like our story and woes are worth sharing. Perhaps others have more traumatic pasts. Who are we to lament our problems? Also, many people learn from a young age that you need to have everything together and appear perfect. Thus no one would care or accept us if we spoke about our pain. Another lie that keeps us from opening up is that no one will understand.
All of these fears stop us from receiving the help that we so desperately need. For years, I lied about the pain inside because I thought people would hate me if they knew. Finally, some of the memories that ate away ate my heart and spirit are being brought into the open to heal.
This is no easy task, however. Anxiety still overcomes me at times, making me scramble to try to pick up the exposed truths to stuff them back inside where no one can see them. Other days, I disclose personal information to those who use it against me. It is a delicate task trying to be honest about your pain in a safe and healthy way. Here are a few tips that have helped me in therapy and with friends and family.
- Talk with someone you trust. Be sure that you are ready for this and pick the right person. This can be one of the most helpful things to do if you rely on that person and are able to discuss the pain.
- See a therapist. This is like talking to someone you trust but a bit more intense. There is no shame in doing this.
- Help those in a similar situation and let them help you. Find people who have been through similar situations and carry pain like yours. When you help them find hope, they will also inspire you.
- Cry. Have a box of tissues handy and just allow yourself to weep as long as you need. If having someone else present would be helpful, than ask a family or friend to sit with you.
- Read uplifting quotes. This can be done by reading a book or inspiration online. For extra help, post little reminders around your house and say these to yourself often.
- Find a creative way to express it. Draw some art, sing a song, write a poem. This allows you to open up about the pain without having to say exactly what happened. Often I do not know what is hurting or am too frightened to admit it. Being creative allows me to explore the pain without facing it head on right away.
- Make a timeline. Trace your pain back to its roots. Where did it begin? Who has added to it? What are other key points? This process can be very enlightening but also triggering. If you do not feel safe, do it with a close support person.
- Remake hurtful memories. If you feel strong enough, try to soften the pain by making a new memory in the place or with the thing that injured you. For example, I fear wearing jeans because of painful remarks in the past. When I do wear them now, it is in an attempt to have better memories replace the old ones.
- Confront and forgive. If someone hurt you deeply, be honest with them. However, also allow yourself to forgive them. That does not mean what they did was right. Releasing your anger or hatred for them will take time. In the end, you will feel a sense of freedom from the burden of bitterness.
- Do not rush the process. It takes time to heal. Try to be patient with yourself and the process. There is hope for healing, but it will not happen overnight.
Do you have other tips for dealing with inner pain? How have you struggled with this in the past, and why do you think it is so difficult? What success have you had in healing your hurt?