Surrender yourself to your pain, yes that’s right, get familiar with it, know it on first term basis. For once you look it straight in the eyes and see it for what it is, you my friend are set free. I run a private psychology practice in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey and this is what part of my work as a counselling psychologist entails. I not only guide people to piece together the puzzle that is their life, but I also try to help them develop the courage to face their demons and pain.
I have worked with so many people, heard so many life stories, so many hopes, aspirations, dreams and insecurities. What have I taken away? I know that we all have our own burden, our own truth, our own story. Rich or poor, black or white, from what ever corner of this Earth, it doesn’t matter, one of the fundamental things that unites us on this crazy life journey is pain and suffering. None of us walk away unscarred, some just take better care of our wounds and accept the wisdom granted from the trials and tribulations!
Love, gratitude, compassion are powerful emotions. You’ve probably heard, such emotions have healing properties. They can rejuvenate, invigorate, and restore us. Yet for some, these emotions are hard to come by, hard to conjure up, hard to feel. This inability to express love outwardly or inwardly creates an internal world of chaos and self-annihilation. For these emotions are sources of energy that can not only maintain life but can help life thrive. There is research that suggests even plants grow faster and greener when they are shown love. There is research that suggests trees can communicate and share nutrients and water through complex underground networks. So love, in all of its forms, is not limited to humans alone and can help life flourish.
If love is not present in earlier life, or somehow love has been ‘stolen’ from us by thieves in the night, it can lead to feelings of deprivation and disillusionment with life. In a climate of a perceived loveless existence, one can begin to feel ‘hungry’ for what should have been, and gradually build up a reservoir of toxic emotions such as shame, rage, jealousy, greed and vengeance. These emotions are very secretive, we tend to hide them where no one can see them. In order to function in the world a mask is created. A mask that covers up this darker side. A mask that presents us as socially acceptable. Maintaining this dual existence can become troublesome and lead to self-loathing. “If only people knew me”, or “no one can love the real me” rattle around in the mind. Furthermore, the internal world is then fuelled with the aforementioned emotions. These emotions lead to the secretion of stress hormones which in the long-term can lead to a diminished immune system, disease and psychosomatic illnesses. These toxic emotions can sometimes lead to people pleasing, passive aggression, and Machiavellian traits also.
“When they get out of balance, and our inner selves become involved in intense conflict, then people can begin to experience mental-health problems.”
I often say our emotions are one of the ways our internal world communicates its needs to us. So I work with my clients to identify what they are feeling, however difficult that might be, the level of intensity of that feeling and what the emotion is trying to signal to them. Often this information can be found by delving into the body and the source of the pain, which is all too often buried deep beneath layers of defence mechanisms which are there to protect you and stop you from feeling the pain or discomfort. However, using these avoidance strategies may have served a function at one point, but then become ingrained and problematic over time.
“the compassionate mind is the mind that transforms.” “it’s still something of a shock to recognise just how ‘multiple’ we are.”
– Paul Gilbert
Thus trauma often breeds trauma, and lack of love can fill a person with some form of anger/hatred (self-directed or outward) and/or pain. This hatred is often signalling something that is missing in our lives now or in the past, something we are hungry for, something lost, or taken! If we fail to listen tentatively, the hatred (and other emotions) will eventually destroy us or those around us. The only way to restore balance and get to a place of compassion is to journey through the pain, hear its words, work on healing it and finally, embrace the wisdom that it is offering. On the other side awaits your compassionate self, the side to you that has been silenced or diminished.