“Hurt people, hurt people.” That was the explanation given to me when I was bullied in school. It was about someone else reacting to the pain they already had inside. Perhaps this didn’t cover all angles (those who get a kick out of it, or say it helps to toughen you up), but it was enough to help me realize it was never about me. As I matured (after many, many tears), I learned to accept that their treatment was no indication of my worth. I wouldn’t be sharing my story the way I am today if I were still afraid. I realized I could not hold on to pain and expect to make progress.
When hurting doesn’t serve you anymore
I have thrown many a pity party. When I am reeling in the wake of bad news, I am eerily effective–I am also in shock. I know that once it wears off, the pain will set in. I try to be honest with myself about the temptation to go into shock mode, and remind myself that the recovery is always painful. Its not worth it. I am doing a better job of confessing my true feelings (numbness, confusion, etc.) and asking for the help that I need (space, the ability to vent, a helpful distraction to soothe the pain).
Sometimes your pain needs a good salve
I can’t move on with anything positive in my life if I am burdened with negativity. In the time that I was seeking a diagnosis, I cracked so many jokes. I was supposed to be awake for my biopsy, but I was making the health care team laugh so hard that I think they had to put me out to focus on their job. Once, when I was in the ER, one of my friends brought in a feather boa. It worked–I was distracted from my pain (as much as I could be). We looked like we were having a party!
I’m sure at times my loved ones questioned if I was taking things seriously. I was. But when things were at their worst, I changed medication dosages nearly every day, gained 1-2 pounds per week (isn’t that the safe rate for losing weight?), and had to work up to taking 20 minute walks in a four block radius of my house (wild for a former marathoner). I was willing to find just about anything worth laughing about.
Let your loved ones in
The beautiful part of this is, my family, friends, and health care team have been along for this struggle. They know who I am at my best and at my worst, and provide comfort or celebrate accordingly. I learned that it can be awkward for people to be around me when I’m down, because they are used to me being so positive and energetic. I’ve learned not to apologize for that, but to understand that it may take other people time to adjust. They were often just as confused as I was.
This wasn’t who I was. This was my pain and frustration being released.
I would tell them the things they could do that made me feel better, such as coming over to watch a movie, or sending me text messages (when I had brain fog, it was hard to follow the details in a long conversation). I learned that when I got emotionally overwhelmed, I would cry easily and it was hard to make decisions. It took time to develop the language to communicate this to others. This wasn’t who I was, this was my pain and frustration being released. Your emotions are natural, but they are not who you are. Focus on your truth.
Don’t hold on to pain caused by minor distractions…learn how to deal with it
Everyday, things happen that get us off of our mojo. This morning, I woke up to a whirring sound caused by a truck (there is a 6-month construction project going on outside, and they get the party started early). I found myself already working hard to hold on to positivity and my hopes for the day as someone repeatedly blared their car horn. It felt like an invitation to sink to a lower vibration. All day, I could groan and complain about how tired I am, and how inconsiderate the rest of the world is. Except for this–I create for a living. I can’t develop powerful programs that preach transformation and live by a different credo.
Instead, I am honest about when I am distracted and not at my best. I learn to deal with the things that bug me, and change what I can. I seek out help when I get stuck. I make sure that I have multiple layers of accountability so that being stagnant is not an option. When I am worn out and confused, I confront and explore these feelings. I don’t ignore them.
It is difficult to change your life when you are still holding onto stories that convince you that you are not capable of making progress. Determining that past pains will no longer hold you back isn’t the same as forgetting or ignoring them. It means that you are determined to finally put yourself first, find the support that you need, put your best energy into the world, and live by a different credo. Change your story, and change your life.
Where do you start?
There is a stigma in many communities that we should figure things out on our own without asking for help. It isn’t useful. I am a strong proponent of finding the help that you need, whether it is a therapist, a coach, a support group, or reaching out to your friends.
–A therapist is trained to deal with issues that are psychological in nature. In the past, I have worked with a therapist to deal with being overwhelmed, as well as coping with loss. I believe that a good therapist can help you promote and protect your mental health. You can find information on mental health resources here.
–Support groups allow you to connect with peers who have similar experiences or interests. Additionally, there are groups with a 12-step program model for a wide range of addictive, compulsive, or other types of behavioral problems, including Alcoholics, Narcotics, Codependency, Emotional issues, Debt, Pain Pills, Gaming, and Workaholics. You can learn more here.
–A coach can provide you with instrumental support and hold you accountable as you learn, grow, and overcome challenges. This relationship works best when the individual is self-motivated, and there is a good fit between the coach and client. Coaching can help you achieve clarity on your goals, as well as identify resources and develop the structure and accountability you need to be successful. The agenda is driven by your interests, and can address professional issues such as career advancement and effective leadership, or personal issues such as establishing balance or living a life of purpose. Contact me to learn more about my services.
How have you learned to let go of pain in your life, so that you can make progress?
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