I belong to a wonderful forum for mental health clinicians with many competent therapists. A while back, we were having a discussion on dealing with our own emotions. This led me to add comments to the original post about my own thoughts on this. After completing it, I began to think of all those who are unable to deal with those hurts and emotions they are experiencing. This blog is a product of those thoughts.
First, I will share my own post from the forum so the reader will better understand me. Next, I will address my thoughts on the harm holding in emotions causes people. My comments to my peers on the forum was written as the thoughts came to me; raw of correct grammar and punctuation–just thoughts from my heart. I’ve reread and corrected, then posted in the next two paragraphs.
I wrote: We all have issues…some more than others. To me, what I work with is knowing that it is an ongoing process. My writing, which I started years ago, when I was dealing with my own sorrow over life events, has helped me. After I complete writing, or just processing what is going on, it is like I have an imaginary box of thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Sometimes, they stay in there with the top securely closed. At other times something may open that box. It might be working with a parent who has lost a child, or someone going through a divorce that opens it for me. I may only take out experiences I encountered to help me better understand what they are going through, or I might see that I need to look deeper for me to deal with some of the new feelings that are coming forward. As I work in new areas, and deal with new problems others have, I add to that box. I hope I am able to pick some of these from my box to help me be a better therapist.
After I had my heart attack, I came to the conclusion that God doesn’t always get my attention by tapping me on my shoulder. Sometimes, he has to beat me over the head. What I get from those beatings, and how I use it to go forward is, to me, my way of working on my own mental health, as well as using it to be a more competent, understanding therapist.
I see a number of people in my practice who have problems dealing with what is buried deep within. What brings them to therapy may be something that is going on currently in their life, such as a bad relationship. Some just want a band-aid fix so they can get on with their life. They are not in a place where they want to deal with what is in their inner self that contributes to the problems. These people to me, are like a “Jack In The Box”. They stuff and stuff their feelings until some event causes the top to pop.
The fortunate ones are the ones who can look within. They don’t want to just stuff the little man back in the “Jack In The Box”. They are the ones who know they cannot continue doing the same things over and over, expecting different results. These are the ones who learn to dig deep within those prior hurts and emotions.
What about those who have a lifetime of built up hurts and sadness? I compare these people to someone who has a thorn in their foot. The more they go forward, the more irritation and “inner infection” they experience. Life, for them is always influenced by the “splinter in their soul”. Many try to hide behind their looks or accomplishments in sports or academics the fact that they have experienced years of physical and emotional trauma. No matter how hard they try, nor what they accomplished, they still feel incomplete, and the hurt remains.
People who really work at their recovery may come to the conclusion that therapy hurts. I agree with them, but I also share that once they have worked through these events and hurts, their future life will be blessed with a new way of living. It is often like lifting a heavy weight from ones shoulder. Many people learn to look at people and the world around them in a different light. They learn that they don’t have to accept abuse, or be in relationships where they give more than they get. They learn to make positive choices and set boundaries because they feel healthy enough and good enough about them self to do this.
I encourage everyone to look within. Is there a thorn in your soul? Do you tend to stuff your hurts or justify the way others treat you because you have problems dealing with your feelings? If so, then therapy might be right for you. With help, you can make positive life changes.