Although my written advice provided today is extremely lengthy, it is worth reading and represents over fifty years of acquired specialist knowledge that is relevant to one's physical, mental and emotional health.
Were I asked to define the most significant problem in the lives of those people with whom I worked and counselled for thirty years as a Probation Officer, I would be hard pressed to find one that was responsible for creating more stress, fear and anger in a person than the experience of ‘being hurt.’I don't mean 'physically hurt' but 'emotionally hurt'. In fact, I can say that it is far easier to get over a physical battering than soothe an emotional bruise.
The truth is that we will all be hurt during our lifetime and unless we are a saint, we will ‘hurt others’ also. If we are wise, we will learn from our hurtful experiences and enable such learning to be the forebearer of changed behaviour, besides providing a minimum level of future protection for ourselves.
First, lets us examine the most positive lessons we can learn from being hurt.
‘Being hurt’ and ‘hurting another’ is usually an indirect consequence of human misunderstanding, carelessness and insensitivity. Even ‘misers’ aren’t usually intentionally ‘mean’; they merely come to lack care and sensitivity in the concern of others, particularly when there is no discernible profit in their positive intervention of another’s problems.
One of the important lessons I had to learn early on in my own life was how to cope with lots of 'physical hurt' through the serious accidents and illnesses I incurred. Many years of my body physically hurting with pain led to me having a high pain threshold in later life; an aspect which has had its advantages over the past twenty years. However, I know from my previous 30-years experience as a Probation Officer that mental pain is worse than any degree of physical pain and cause greater hurt. And I also know that emotional pain is the worst of all hurts.
On so many occasions I have had to deal with battered wives, beaten and ill-treated youngsters, sexually abused children, and people who were bullied at school; as well as dealing with the perpetrators of these actions. Let me tell you while both victim and perpetrator invariably present as being deeply damaged in different ways, it is the victim who invariably bears the brunt of the hurt. I have worked with children who were sexually assaulted by their fathers or father figures (mum’s boyfriend). I have seen the physical effects of women and children beaten and left with broken limbs. I have known men and women murder their parents, partners or their children while under the heavy influence of drugs or/and alcohol.
I have known adults in their 40s, 50s and 60s who display no self-confidence or communication and social skills, and who are frightened of mixing with strangers and who still avoid all confrontational situations, ‘BECAUSE OF BEING BULLIED AND NAME-CALLED AT SCHOOL 40 AND 50 YEARS EARLIER!’ I have learned that broken bones and bereavement created by heinous crime are capable of healing quicker than character assassinations.
I have learned over the years that just because a person’s experience and the subsequent problem appears less traumatic than another’s, doesn’t mean they are required to hurt less. We each possess different pain thresholds and we are all capable of responding to similar/different situations in different ways.
The most common hurt most people experience is the loss of a loved one, either through their decision to separate from you or their unavoidable death. Were different types of pain (physical pain, mental pain, emotional pain) able to be measured and compared, in terms of ‘intensity and duration of the hurt ’, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that all types of loss can produce similar ‘intensity’ and ‘duration’ of pain and hurt. I feel reasonably sure that it wouldn’t matter whether the couple had been together fifty days or fifty years when it came to assessing the level of residue hurt felt by the individual left suffering the loss of a loved one.
I am sure we would discover that a man or woman who was dumped, betrayed, lied to, or deserted by a partner whom they had come to love a mere fifty days earlier, is just as capable of feeling as much hurt and pain (in intensity and duration) as the bereaved partner of a fifty-year happy marriage when the scales of hurt has weighed up all there is to weigh up.
It is as though all hearts that allow themselves to open will always run the risk of someday being broken. That is the ultimate price of ‘love’ we humans are asked to pay for risking the experience.
The hurt created by the loss is not because of the obvious consequences of the physical or mental separation, but because of the psychological power of keeping the bereaved person still 'emotionally connected' to the departed. One of the biggest problems to effectively deal with (whether a bereaved spouse or a dumped lover) seems to be the inability to emotionally ‘move on with life’ after the painful event. I have known widows and widowers grieve for ten years or more. I have also known people who were never married but who were betrayed and dumped by a person they had come to trust and love, to feel they will never be able to trust another. They also find themselves stuck in a rut of grief and unable to emotionally move on with their life.
My advice to any person once scorned by love and too afraid to trust enough again is to hold two thoughts in their mind:
“I will never accept moving on with my life until I accept that the other person whom I once loved, has already moved on with their life.”
“They may have made the decision to dump me, but they are not the one stopping me picking myself back up and moving on.”
I would also ask the person still feeling 'too hurt' to accept that one is never hurt by the love one gives; only by the love one expects that doesn’t prove to be forthcoming.
Angry people are best helped by learning to continue to express their anger but ‘more appropriately’. Anger is body energy and can be a powerful driving force. Whenever anger is expressed inappropriately, It invariably hurts both the person expressing it and the person towards whom it is directed. It is far worse though not to express one’s anger at all and repressing it. Aggressive people find it easier to be angry with another than to admit they are themselves hurting.
Non-assertive people have anger behaviour which is repeatedly repressed. This inner anger builds up and up inside. Their response patterns make them destined to hurt themselves and not others. They are the quiet ones who put up with things as opposed to expressing their true feelings. This type of person out-numbers the aggressive type in society fourfold. The extremely non-assertive person is nothing less than a walking time bomb whose pressure valve will eventually lead to a massive ‘implosion’ (an explosion inside one’s mind and body) after too much anxiety, stress and pressure reaches the danger point.
When this happens, the body of the non-assertive person may become mentally unstable, suffer emotional disturbance or have a break down in extreme circumstances once the pressure point has been surpassed and they have ‘imploded’.
These response-pattern types (who are decent folk in every respect), are often the ones on the six o’clock news who have a total breakdown and kill themselves, along with their entire family and the family pet for ‘no apparent reason’. When television and press reporters interview the neighbours after such a tragic and inexplicable offence, they usually discover that the person who committed such a grave act was a pillar of respectability in the community; the very nicest of individuals who were never known to have spoken ill of another!
Other and more common aspects of a person who never expresses outward anger are usually witnessed in their problem behaviours. Such can include being more likely to engage in or display depression, addiction to prescriptive pills or alcohol, eating disorders or even the shop-lifting of items they can afford and don’t even want.
These are just a few of my life experiences as a Probation Officer, Stress Management Consultant, Group Worker and Relaxation Trainer during my lifetime. That is why the song ‘Hurt’ is my chosen song to sing today.
Love and peace. Bill xxx