I am feeling hurt, my eyes are wet, my heart is bleeding, I feel this heaviness in my chest and a darkness that blinds my head”, we’ve all felt this soring pain at some point or the other, be it a breakup, a friendship that is not reciprocated, or a trust that get’s manipulated, a heart break is in-evitable, but the Good news is…you can overcome it.
Ever since I remember I have been struggling to deal with hurt, be it my family, friends, love, death or dreams. My way of dealing with hurt was to completely block the person who caused me pain. This would have worked perfectly if those people could be completely eliminated, but as we all know that’s not always possible. I read somewhere that the thing you run away from the most, follows you the most. And also that life keeps repeating the same lessons till you learn from them. It is further stated in the Hindu Scriptures of Realms of life that the purpose of each realm in enlightenment, and that if you don’t get that enlightenment, you will be born again in that same realm. In my context it literally meant that if I did not learn to deal with my hurt, in this life, I would be born again with the same circumstances, till I learnt my lesson. And that did not sound like a great idea, so I had to get moving. Next steps, research! Sharing what I have learnt.
As humans high-perceived control makes us feel less vulnerable hence puts us in our comfort zone. A simple example would be that we feel discomfort not devastation when we have a broken arm vs devastation when we have a broken heart, WHY?, There could be two probable answers for this, one: we understand the healing process of a broken arm better, two: recovery of a broken arm has a more certain outcome than a broken heart. So I guess its safe to say that knowledge and certainty of an outcome warrants a less emotional outbreak. So if we were to apply the same principles to emotional “Hurt”, will it work? In most cases it would as knowledge is a tool that brings about wisdom, and wisdom is all we need to live a fulfilling life.
There are two key things that shaped my wisdom on “Hurt”. The first thing was that “It is ok to feel hurt”.All emotions are Valid. Tell me if this sounds familiar “get over it”, “ get your shit together”, “don’t be such a baby”, “be mature”, etc…. When we undermine our own emotions we loose the ability to learn from them. So when you hear yourself or anyone else telling you these things,.,.,. JUST STOP! Don’t Judge or Suppress. Endurance is not the ability to suppress emotions, it is the ability to control what we do when they come to us. Berne Brown, the famous research professor at the University of Houston famously declares that you can not selectively suppress emotions, when you suppress grief, shame, fear, disappointment, you numb joy, you numb gratitude, you numb happiness and then you are miserable.
The second thing that I learnt, which is pretty interesting is that, there are different Kinds of Hurt.It is very important to understand this difference as your recovery process and time will vary according to the emotion you feel right after being hurt. Hurt causes different kinds of pain, both in intensity and consequence. As the famous American Poet Emily Dickinson puts it:
“I measure every Grief I Meet, With narrow probing eyes, I wonder if it weighs like mine, Or has an easier size.”
While there may be a varied range of emotions and blues, for the purpose of this article I will stick to common forms of hurt, leaving aside abuse, as that is a specialized area all together.
What is social exclusion, simply put it is being excluded form social events like birthdays, outings, office get together or any such activity where in you’ve been singled out and not been invited to be a part of the group. Social exclusion is a complex concept and leads to hurt arising out of shame. Shame, although not entirely a negative emotion is still a social emotion, one we feel when we look bad in front of others. Also we tend to self-incriminate after having been excluded, either believing that we somehow deserved it or that we are blowing things out of proportion and shouldn’t feel that way. There can be great power in leaving, but to be kicked out can feel disastrous.
Heartbreak by a lover:
You love someone, all is going well, and then all of a sudden he/she decides to abandon you. What do you feel? HURT! Hurt due to Rejection and Loss. The feeling of Loss is so strong that you can actually feel physical anguish. You go through highs, lows, feelings of helplessness, self-doubt, agony, because the one thing that you love, has chosen to walk away. There is a key difference in pain caused due to break up’s and other feelings of loss. In a “Break-up” the abandonment is out of choice and absolute, i.e. it is more like a full stop rather than a comma. Women tend to take a larger blow after a break-up because women are socially conditioned to believe that maintaining a relationship was their responsibility.
Break-up feels slightly different from other kinds of loss, and there is good reason why. Scientific research has proved that coming through heartbreak is like coming off drugs. Many Studies have shown that the anguish experienced during a split activates the same part of the brain that is stimulated during addiction withdrawal. Researchers have established similarities in bran scans of people going through romantic rejection and cocaine craving. This analogy of comparing a heartbreak to addiction may help you reason out your heartbreak better. As with any other addictions, the withdrawal symptoms are worst initially and then the symptoms reduce. Oh I wish I knew this whilst I was growing up!
Betrayal is when someone you trust lies to you, cheats on you, abuses you, or hurts you by putting their own self-interest first. Betrayal HURTS! It’s a devastating sense of loss that leads to grief. Some say it’s the worst kind of loss anyone can experience as in order to feel betrayed you would have trusted the person in the first place. For instance, a spouse is betrayed when their partner has an affair, a child feels betrayed when abused, a friend feels betrayed when something stated in confidence is repeated. Betrayal is an action of choice and the person who was betrayed believes that the choice was wrong and preventable.
Death leads to bereavement. There is a difference between grief and bereavement. Grief is the psychological-emotional experience following a loss of any kind (relationship, status, job, house, game, income, etc), whereas bereavement is a specific type of grief related to someone dying. The difference can be explained by a simple example, when bereaving, we want to keep the person alive in our memories, in time we choose fond memories to treasure. However, when grieving we try to forget about, or get over the memories related to that person or instance by creating new memories.
What do I know about death, well I lost my father, Uncle, Grand mom, aunt all in a span of 2 years, and all to Cancer. It was a time in our house when we didn’t know who to care for first. So yes, I can talk a whole lot about death, but that would require a whole book. But this is an article, so in brief my input would be that, death is devastating, emotionally, socially and sometimes financially. Getting over death is never as simple, it takes time, courage, wisdom and a whole lot of support. You never really get over Death, you learn to deal with in time.
Understand Your Recovery:
“Don’t cry when the sun is gone, because the tears won’t let you see the stars”…Violet Parra
It is very important to understand that the recovery process of each kind of hurt is different, varies in intensity and time. Some may require just re-programmed positive thinking while some may require further steps. For example dealing with a Break-up may require avoiding triggers and moving on, betrayal may require a re-connect. Social Exclusion may require standing up and Death may require learning to live again. One cannot erase emotional memory, healing happens by living a more intentional life, with re-arranged priorities and better outlook. So here’s how one can begin their journey towards healing.
In order to acknowledge our pain, we first have to accept. Do not hold onto emotions after traumatizing events by questioning as why did they have to happen to me and refusing to accept that they have happened. You will trap your emotions by refusing to accept. Things happen in our lives that aren’t fair. It sucks and it hurts and there are never enough reasons. We can either fight against what we can’t control, or we can accept, and outsmart our pain towards a better quality of life.
Feel Your Emotions Without Judgment:
When you have been hurt, you may feel a varied range of emotions like anger, grief, humiliation, disappointment fear etc. Let your emotions flow without judgment of wrong or right. This is the tricky part as most of us have been conditioned for just the opposite, “don’t feel”, “don’t cry”, “you cant feel this way” etc. Accept that something has happened, let your body feel what it wants to feel. There is no right or wrong feeling, all feelings should be greeted with equal attention. Don’t be afraid to burst out sobbing, or yell into a pillow if you feel angry and frustrated. These feelings will pass if you express them.
Emotions demand expression, suppressed emotions lead to many disorders, which as we all know is not a good place to be in. Many a times people experience excessive crying during their first meditation practice, I am a first hand witness to this. Cried unstoppably, I could not understand this at all, I was expecting this great sense of calm, not tears. As it so happens, mediation releases all your bottled-up emotions, sometimes through tears. In time all the negative emotions will move through you leaving you with empty space, which you can then consciously fill up with positive emotions like warmth, joy, acceptance, and compassion.
Focus On Self:
Get stronger emotionally and physically. Try to build a stronger spiritual structure, I am not talking about religion I am talking about a sounder emotional strength. Remember your sense of worthiness does not come from external acceptance. It comes from knowing that “I am good enough”. People behave a certain way because of their own wants and needs. It is not a reflection of your self worth. They may blame you for their action to reduce their accountability, but that has got nothing to do with you. So don’t ponder in negative thoughts, think positive thoughts that will improve your self confidence. Read up on good books, connect with people and groups that can match your journey. Know that there is always a place for you to shine and smile, tell yourself this enough times, out loud if required.
Exercise!, I cant say this enough. The endorphins that are released during physical exercise are notoriously helpful in elevating your mood. Exercise is the least used anti-depressant. Go to the gym, do yoga, cycling, running, walking, anything that is physically challenging. This is the one thing that you can do for yourself wherein you’ll be forced to create a deliberate energy shift from you mind to your body. This will not only make you physically stronger but it will also give a better sense of self worth.
Foster Fulfilling friendships: It is imperative that as we grow older, and even when all is going well, we make a sincere attempt in developing a few quality relationships that you feel comfortable falling back on. This way, even when the sun is not shining bright, you will never be left without anyone to turn to.
Talk It Out: Two way communication with the person who caused you pain can sometimes be very healing. Ensure that you focus on your own feelings by saying “I felt “ instead of “you made me feel”. Hear the other person out to get a better understanding of what happened, why it happened, and why it hurt. Sometimes things may surface differently. Share your fears and listen to their fears in return. Everyone is fighting their own battle, sometimes talking it out helps put things in perspective.
Don’t Act In A Hurry: Wait before you make any big decisions, There is no positive revenge. Revenge in the heat of the moment is something that you will come to regret later. Time spent calculating a deliberate revenge is time spent at the expense of your own emotional healing.
Take help: A good friend or a therapist can help you clear your head and decide what steps to take. If your feelings are too intense to manage alone or if you find yourself coping in unhealthy ways, you should speak to a counselor who will be in a better position to help you deal with your emotions.
Forgiveness is mandatory in all forms of healing process, leaving aside Death, of course. Forgiveness leads to a greater sense of personal peace. It does not mean that you are overlooking the act itself, what it means that is you are choosing to move on from feelings of resentment to feelings of resolution. Even a small incident might need to be remembered occasionally before it stops hurting. Forgiveness isn’t something you do for the person who wronged you, it’s something you do for “YOU”.
Forgiveness is a process and not always easy, at times, it hurts more than the wound itself. Bigger pains arising out of heartbreak or betrayals can define your life for a while and it makes sense that they have to be forgiven multiple times. You can forgive without rebuilding your relationships. In fact in cases of abuse, it is advisable and sometimes not even safe to resume contact. If you are unable or unwilling to resume contact, stating your forgiveness to yourself or writing it down on a piece of paper can help you move on from the pain. We never heal until we forgive.
Move On and Rebuild You Life:
Rebuilding is a big step of your healing journey. Loving someone again, trusting someone again or perhaps trusting the same person again, being vulnerable again, all this can be very daunting. But life must go on, unfortunate incidents can not define you. Open your mind and look for a lesson, sometimes, the lesson isn’t apparent immediately, but if you keep an open mind, the lesson will revel itself. In the words of Robert Gary Lee, “Wisdom is nothing but healed pain”. Move on in your life with your new wisdom and keep your heart open to new and meaningful beginnings.
“Pain teaches you more than pleasure. Failure teaches you more than success. Poverty teaches you more than prosperity. Adversity teaches you more than comfort.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo