Saturday, November 21, 2009

Healing the Inevitable Ills – Dealing with the Hurts of Life

At the very thought of the school reunion Bob was dressing for made his hands perspire and his forehead furrow tensely. A man senior in years, he’d lived in the shadow of this sort of ordeal for decades. Meeting nemeses of bygone eras, those who took great delight in making him pee his pants in bullied fear, wasn’t something that he could really even bear to contemplate. Yet, he goes there for his sister and brother and to present as a family—little do they know of his quaking fear.

In another part of the world there’s James, a respected older real estate agent. His former life has involved twenty years of work in an ambulance service. Death is such a part of James he can no longer escape it. He couldn’t tell what it is about his experiences of road, industry and home traumas that continue to spook him because they simply don’t (at a conscious level)—yet he’s bizarrely and deeply scarred in ways he can’t reconcile.

For a third person, the unreconciled difficulty is something that we all tend to carry with us when it hits us. The death of a loved one that hankers on for the rest of their life—they miss them so. It’s almost like they never existed, but for the actual memory they did. This only makes the biting, entrapping pain more acute.

Every one of us carries ills—hurts, traumas, phobias, even disappointments, bitterness and resentments. These happen to us. They are done to us. Some perhaps are more prone than others. Some are in the firing line for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)—the environment sets up the hurts of life. For others, there is the genetic predisposition. And, there are permeations of the two in any mixture we care to name.

Whether it’s bullying, PTSD, coping effectively with loss, or even managing to forgive someone or ourselves there is an appropriate way out of the mess.

I posit that this has more to do with our own self-acceptance and self-forgiveness than anything else. I mean, why on earth would a child blame themselves for their parents’ divorce? This logic-defying fact is a sharp clue to our very human dilemma.

We see ourselves in the hurt—we see blame in the hurt. We subconsciously resolve to attribute blame where it will stick i.e. firmly in our very own laps.

Deep down, at a level below the conscious mind, Bob blames himself for being “a wimp.” The fact is he was bullied. He was treated unfairly. He simply responded as most people would. He protected himself. James, likewise, protected his logical mind from the emotional carnage so he could do his work effectively; only later did he feel guilty for not being more humane in his feelings toward the poor dead people he dealt with. But, he actually did the right thing. The mother who lost her infant baby and never had time to grieve; she’d rather blame herself to protect the lost baby she cannot possibly protect. That “logic” makes sense to her at the deeper level.

We blame ourselves for far too much in this very human life of ours. Knowledge of this overly-emotional default to our behaviour is crucial.

Dealing with the matters of healing and self-acceptance is another matter, but challenging our ignorance (or denial) is the crucial starting point.

The logical mind comes to our rescue every time—why do we not use it more, training it for the conscious work of daily, in-the-moment, cognisant battle? Re-training our minds is critical.

Facts we must meditate on, in consciously re-training our conscious (and therefore impacting eventually on our sub-conscious) minds:

ü We did the best we could, with the available knowledge we had, at the time.

ü Even if we had the choice and took the easier path, everyone struggles for courage, patience and wisdom. Everyone makes morally-bad choices.

ü Our parents did the best they could with the knowledge and experiences they had to work with. Often abuses carry through the generations. To forgive them is to forgive ourselves.

The process of healing is just that—a process. Accepting and forgiving ourselves is a closer issue than most people think. If we have unresolved hurts, likewise, they’re at source much closer than we would otherwise think. They’re within us—something only we can control.

Hit this hard: our happiness and functionality depend on it. We must be gentler with ourselves. Herein lays the key to life, the abundant life.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

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