I talk to people every day that feel stuck in their pain. I get it. I was
there for most of my life, letting the Past run rampant over me like a bulldozer on full throttle.
It seemed like my ‘greatest hits’ of a lifetime of betrayal, injustice, rejection, embarrassment or any other painful experience would replay itself and I couldn't find an exit door.
Every time I thought about an unresolved situation that upset me, even if it was from 5, 10 or 30 years ago, the familiar wave of emotion would wash over me like a sneaker wave on the Oregon coast.
Until one day, someone said something remarkable (and life changing) to me.
“Release the story.”
It took me a while to 'get it', because let’s be honest, it sounded WAY too simple to be a real answer.
But, after doing some serious soul searching, I realized something that literally took my breath away. The person repeatedly pushing the pain button of my Greatest Hits of Torment was…well….me.
The truth was, every time I made the choice to ‘tell the story’ of some icky past experience, I gave myself a perfect Groundhog’s Day replay gift of something that could never be changed.
Perhaps, subconsciously, I was hoping for a source of vindication to fall from the sky or, at the very least, a hint of understanding as to why a person would intentionally want to hurt me, especially those that I had truly loved and tried to please.
It can be ok to occasionally remember pain from those experiences. Pain is usually behind some of the most meaningful lessons we have in life.
But, apparently, I had failed to read the Human Life Operation instructions that said we’re only meant to carry forward the wisdom earned from the lesson, not continually re-experience the emotional shrapnel from it.
No one wise has ever said ‘learning is more meaningful if you keep opening the wound and pouring salt on it’. That would only work to your benefit if you’re Hannibal Lector. Chianti anyone?
What I ultimately realized is that, to get the life I really wanted (which was joy, freedom and peace) I had to surrender the past and re-train my brain to release the storytelling habit behind the experience. That included releasing every gory triggering detail I had unwittingly massaged for decades or I would never be able to heal and move on.
Mel Robbins, popular life coach and author of ‘The 5 Second Rule’ has a great mantra. “Your only one decision away from changing your life”.
Repeatedly, and purposefully, re-living pain that is past its expiration date is a decision to stay stuck in the past, instead of welcoming a brighter and happier future.
So, has continually re-living old pain worked for you so far? If not, then choose to step off that painful merry-go-round and try these three things as your first steps toward emotional freedom.
1) Work on your daily awareness to stay in the present instead of allowing the past to overwhelm and dictate the quality of where you are today.
2) STOP repeating the stories (either to yourself or others) that triggers painful emotions and memories. Instead, focus on ways to release them and forgive anything that isn’t serving you and your best life in the here and now.
If you find you can’t do this on your own, invest in some good self-help books on the subject or invest in coaching support to learn the tools to do so.
3) Allow yourself a serious dose of patience and forgiveness as you work through the process of changing your thought habits. Lasting change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes commitment, and sometimes dogged tenacity, to get to a better life experience.
After all, storytelling is just another habit we’ve spent years perfecting because we didn't know better.
But, habits can be changed. One conscious step, and choice, at a time.
By the way, did you know that when you think about painful past experiences and feel the corresponding emotions, your body doesn’t understand the difference between an old experience and a new one?
Research has proven that every time you re-live an experience with an emotion like fear, sadness or grief, your whole body creates a cellular response as if it’s experiencing it in ‘real time’.
That leads to stress reactions, like adrenal and cortisol responses that negatively affect our health. Over time, that adds up to illness, disease and the inability to live our lives at our best potential.
I can tell you this. It’s incredibly satisfying to watch the painful aspects of a past truly fade into the distance in the rearview mirror of your life.
Looking ahead and creating a future that you love...hey! That's WAY more fun and if I can do it, YOU can do it!
Go forth and conquer my friend! You deserve it!
If you think you might benefit from life coaching sessions, or just need a little push to get through a life transition challenge, I encourage you to take advantage of one of my free 20-minute coaching consults (offered by phone) to see if I can help.
To schedule, go to https://www.turningpointscoaching.com/book-online