Sometimes people come to me looking for help with letting go of past hurt so they can move forward in their lives with inner peace. Oftentimes, they have tried using various coping skills such as deep breathing, meditation, and journaling in an attempt to move past painful emotions to no avail. Emotional peace alludes them as they continue to be haunted by past experiences.
To understand why 'letting go and moving on' does not always work, let’s first consider a physical injury. Imagine I fall on ice and land on my wrist (ouch!). It hurts quite a bit but I’m not sure if it’s broken. I don’t want to go to the hospital because it’s nerve wracking and time consuming, especially in times of COVID. Plus, it’s a hassle to make an appointment, get a referral, get x-rays, etc. I am hopeful it will just heal on its own, so I decide not to seek treatment. However, as time moves on, I continue to experience pain when I put any pressure on my wrist. This starts to get in the way of some of my daily activities and the pain becomes hard to avoid. After several weeks without experiencing relief, I decide to see my doctor who refers me to a radiologist to get an x-ray. The x-ray shows that my wrist is broken and needs a cast to heal properly. Without immobilizing it, the bone will not heal and will continue to hurt. In addition, if I fall on it again the break would be much worse. I'm left with a decision - Do I complete the course of treatment so my wrist can fully heal, or do I continue my attempts to avoid the pain and hope it will go away?
Similarly, if we have suffered an emotional hurt that has not gone away of its own, it might require treatment for healing to take place. For example, if we have been hurt in an intimate relationship and have attempted to 'let go and move on' from that hurt, this emotional pain may continue to appear in our future intimate relationships. We can choose to avoid intimate relationships to avoid the pain. Perhaps we don’t let anyone get close to us because of the painful emotions that surface from the past. But that leaves us alone when we actually want to be in closer relationship. Like the broken wrist, we can avoid taking care of it and not engage in certain activities anymore, but then we suffer. However, just engaging in activities while there is pain can do further damage.
We know we have a physical injury when we experience pain and discomfort. But how do we recognize an emotional injury? Emotional injuries might feel like anxiety (racing thoughts, difficulty breathing, body tension) or depression (hopelessness, loneliness, lack of motivation). When emotional pain surfaces, that is the part of you asking for help to heal. Sometimes pain will clear up on its own; our body has an amazing ability to heal itself. There are other times that no matter how hard we try, the pain persists. This is a sign that trying to 'let go and move on' is not working. Instead, a closer look at the injury is needed to understand what has happened, how it continues to impact you, and what can be done for healing to take place. Once healed, this past place of injury can be a place of renewed strength. Instead of emotional turmoil, we experience confidence and inner peace.
If you think you might have an emotional injury that could benefit from treatment, reach out for a free consultation.