By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen, McClatchy-Tribune News Service –
Are you still stinging from emotional pain somebody inflicted upon you a long time ago?
Maybe a teacher slammed your ego in high school. Or, did your best friend start bad rumors about you?
We can all recall such incidents. If we add a few of life’s major wounds to the picture, such as divorce or getting fired, we can really feel hurt.
If these wounds are deep enough, such pain will cause us to act out unhealthy behaviors. Our relationships can suffer a lot.
You may be hiding behind walls of silence or secrecy. Or, you may unfairly act out anger on other people.
Another unhealthy behavior is acting overly nice, which can make you feel like a doormat.
You want to free yourself, however, because you don’t want to live all bent out of shape. You want to feel normal, behave normally, and have decently normal relationships.
Ideally, you want to live life as if the pain had never happened.
“When I had a lot of bad things happen to me, I started helping some dysfunctional friends,” says a fourth-grade teacher we’ll call Mary.
“I had subconsciously decided that if I could sacrifice for others, and make a martyr of myself, I could ward off evil spirits!” she laughs.
Most of us, if we’ve been hurt, tend to take an extreme path. We either over-give like Mary, or we pull back and hide so far from people that we never feel close to anyone.
Having bad things happen to you requires some careful emotional work. You want to clean out old wounds to ensure you can heal.
Try these tactics to deal with old pain:
—Forgive foolish people. If you were shoved off the high diving board by a bully in grammar school, realize that the bully was just an immature child. Don’t assume all bullies meant you any harm along the road of life.
—Realize a mismatch can happen. For example, if you’re a well-educated cosmopolitan woman and your marriage to a laid-back country boy didn’t work, reflect on what’s real. Call it a mismatch and stop hating and hurting.
—Forgive your parents’ mistakes. For example, if your parents forced you to go to band camp or wouldn’t let you date until you were 21, let it go. Parents do make mistakes, so do your best to let them off the hook.
“I’ve tried to work through my old wounds,” says a real estate broker we’ll call Diana. “But, my big life mistake was marrying an abusive husband. This man sold drugs, beat me, and ended up in prison for three years. But, I managed to move on reasonably well.”
We asked Diana what she did to heal and get her life on track.
“I decided that I would heal while moving forward,” she told us. “I started studying for my real estate exam, and I worked out in the gym every single day. I began trying to heal the day my ex went to prison.”
Diana says she used positive language to heal, too.
“In my thinking, I started wishing my ex all of the luck in the world,” says Diana. “But, I told myself, ‘I wish myself much more luck than he’ll ever have.’ This way, I could honestly tell him and our kids I was hoping things would turn around for him.
“If you don’t spend an ounce of your own energy hating or hurting,” she declares, “you’ll have plenty of power to heal and thrive.”