Our old hurts may be controlling our lives. In my work with individuals, invariably this topic surfaces and is addressed as a client becomes conscious of how their behavior feels “out of control” and reactive to circumstances. As this awareness arises, we begin the dance of discussing and mending buried hurts from the past. These hurts lie in wait until the client has tools to heal the hurt. We all have the power to engage in this healing. Unfortunately, we may not know it. My own healing continues as my life circumstance draws out further old hurts that linger.
Often when we start the process of talking about an old hurt, individuals assume a victim role; this was done to me, and I am just living with “it”, whatever the “it” looks like now, perhaps anger, resentment, fear, or blame. I cannot argue the first part, most times cruel things were done, are being done, and my client is sitting in front of me bearing the scars of the cruelty. The place where real healing occurs is when we take ownership of the present, a place where we truly have ultimate control for the condition of our life and our relationships with others. It is the place where we empower ourselves by saying “I am not stuck here”, “I can choose different behavior”, “I have these feelings and I don’t know if they are more about the past or the present” or “I can change this by changing my old reactions”, and sometimes, “I can walk away and do life in a new way”.
The following is the briefest and most concise way for me to describe how we might heal from past hurts and free ourselves to live peacefully in the present.
• Be on the look out for reactive behaviors, any place where you are stuck in thoughts like “you are doing this to me”, or “I can’t do anything to change this”. If you can see that you have adopted a victim stance in some way, most likely this is about, or tied into, the past. • Make space in your life to look at the pattern honestly, searching for old scenarios in your life where you were hurt and may still be carrying the burden of that hurt • With finding the old scenario, look at what happened in the past with fresh eyes, seeing the other person as coming from an unconscious hurt place as they delivered pain your way • Come back to the present and own your own power to make things right for yourself, as in naming the hurt, forgiving whoever is involved, including yourself for carrying the old hurt around for so long, allowing it to create further misery • Practice staying in the present and address what is happening now from a position of strength and compassion, allowing the current circumstances to be addressed and changed based on your positive presence rather than repetitive old habitual actions
This process takes time to work through thoroughly, depending on the condition of the old hurt and your willingness, as well as your attention to it. Sometimes we find ourselves cycling through stages of forgiveness for years until we really put something to rest. And at times we find we can release an old grudge or hurt quite quickly, find ourselves ready and willing and able… and then it’s done. All healing that is done will be reflected in a sense of relief and new life. None of us need feel stuck in a place we do not want to be in.
We have the power to affect change, always, regardless of whether we want to put our power to use or not. It takes courage to summon the strength and resilience to become honest about owning every aspect of the life we are living right now. But the willingness and boldness to own our life means we also begin to create the life we really want, no longer feeling trapped by our past or our inability to become more positively responsive to life.