Emotional Pain: how do you handle yours?

We all deal with our personal emotional pain in different ways. Some are healthy, some are not. Good or bad, these ways in which we handle our pain are called “scripts.” They are the sequence of behaviors stored in our brains as "the way to do things."

Like in: "when we are upset with each other we clam up and smile a lot, because you never let your anger show."

Where do we learn these scripts? Like many other behaviors, we learn them in childhood – from our fathers, our mothers, our siblings and cousins. Did that make you wince? Then maybe you need to analyze your scripts and whether they’re hurting other people.

Some are fortunate enough to have learned (early or later) a healthy approach to healing pain. The unhealthy ones are these:

Withdrawal – We close ourselves off emotionally and put up walls to defend ourselves. This “keeping everybody out” ploy has a problem – it keeps everybody out. When you’re in pain, it is understandable that you need to get away from your abuser. But to heal you need someone kind and understanding who will hear you out and support you. They can’t do that if your door is locked.

Attack – In order to avoid being hurt again, we make ourselves stronger and tougher and wield power over others. What may start as a “kill or be killed” mentality against an abuser can lead to a non-discriminatory abuse of others. Attack as a way to handle emotional abuse is dangerous because you switch from being the victim to being the abuser, and merely keep the cruel cycle going.

Self-attack – This is a popular victim mentality – blaming yourself for the abuse. You beat yourself up for being weak enough to let abuse occur or continue. Not only does this allow the abuser to continue having power and control over you, it blinds you to the possibility of standing up for yourself and having the confidence to get out.

Avoiding – We hide the turmoil and pain by masking it. Instead of thinking about and dealing with that, we do this. Instead of confronting her emotionally abusive husband, Molly becomes addicted to drinking. This is an obvious avoidance, but there may be times when the avoidance is more subtle – maybe Molly develops OCD about cleaning the house, or becomes absorbed in making money, because they make her feel in control. Avoidance, whether self-destructive or not, is not dealing with the issue – it’s allowing it go on unhindered.

Solving emotional pain and overcoming emotional abuse and its effects do not occur by utilizing these four reactions, they occur through coaching and learning constructive ways to handle things. These four either inhibit the healing process or proliferate it. Worse still, an entrenchment in these behaviors causes us to be attracted to people with the same behaviors. Even after leaving an abusive relationship, we surround ourselves with people who withdraw, attack, and avoid, trapping ourselves in unhealthy relationships that play out over and over again like a bad song stuck on repeat.

Neil Warner

Neil Warner

I'm the “relationship guru,” and my main focus is to increase the quality of love-based relationship experiences. In this ground-breaking guide I offer useful strategies on healing a difficult angry relationship with love and compassion. You don't have to stay in an unhealthy relationship one more minute. Let us share our tools with you today.

 

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