“When we push down hurt or pretend that struggle doesn’t exist, the hurt and struggle own us.” Brene Browne
We don’t suppress happy feelings usually. They are easy, we just have them. You tell me a joke, I laugh. I see a double rainbow and gasp at it’s beauty.
But what of those feelings that hurt, like sadness, fear, shame, even anger? For most of us, these are the tricky ones. Feelings, as they say, are meant to be felt, but this is easier said than done in many cases.
You see, emotional wounds are like physical wounds. If a child skins his or her knee their parent will clean it, bandage it and keep a close eye on it as it heals. In other words, the wound is attended to. If not, it is at risk of getting infected and causing greater problems. However if well cared for, it will heal beautifully, perhaps leave a little scar, but often there will be no trace that the wound was there at all.
It’s the same for emotional wounds. We have all experienced them at some point in our life, but because emotional wounds are not visible often our caregivers do not attend to the wound appropriately. Attending to an emotional wound is actually easy. It’s being attentive, showing compassion, checking in regularly to see if the person is okay, offering comfort, holding them as they cry if needed.
But that is not what often happens. I hear story after story in my counselling room of horrible experiences that normal everyday people go through, either now or as children. I always ask them, “How did you get through that? Who helped you? Was there anyone there that you could talk to at that time?” And invariably the answer is no.
“So where did the hurt go?”
“Oh.. I dunno. I just buried it. I locked it away. I pushed it down.”
And there you have it. In the absence of having someone to nurture them through their time of need, most people have no other choice but to suppress hurt. It’s extremely common.
The problem is, it doesn’t go away. It sits deep inside and it leaks out in other ways: depression, anxiety or unhealthy coping mechanisms – like control, anger, excessive behaviour – anything to distract us from the hurt.
As Brene Brown’s quote indicates, the hurt, when suppressed, ends up owning us and the results in our lives can be disastrous. If people aren’t careful the very strategy they use to cope with emotional pain can end up driving away the people they love the most.
The good news is that it is never too late to deal with suppressed hurt, even if the wound is deep and has been festering for years.
It may take time, it will probably take getting proper care, and it will definitely take courage, but it is possible. I see it all the time.
Be encouraged. Hurt doesn’t have to own you. If you get the proper care, you will be left with the scar, the memory, but not the festering wound.
Contact Norwest Counselling now to book an initial assessment session.