Of course, I tried to remove the emotional pain I had buried deep inside my soul from abuse in my childhood. So, I ran right into alcohol and Valium addiction, an eating disorder, promiscuity, ill health, and by my mid-twenties even cancer.
Moreover, it actually did it through the extensive inner work in the years following my diagnosis, with a 12-step program, meditation, counseling, journaling, and looking for the help of alternative health and healing practitioners — that I found out the direct connection between my emotions and my physical health, as well as repaired my marriage, and went into remission from the cancer.
A lot of the practices I started during my recovery I still perform to this day. Also, I know that being aware of my emotions, then keeping an eye on my inner truth, and releasing negativity and stress daily is the key to stay healthy and happy.
In addition, you don’t have to experience a dramatic story of pain or abuse in order to look for and claim your truth and heal your emotional wounds. It is a fact that, all of us have experienced being hurt, regardless it’s from the neglect of a busy or sick parent, a difficult divorce, financial loss, a car accident, a natural disaster, the betrayal of a business partner, the death of a loved one or pet, etc.
Victim mentality vs. self-responsibility
I had a great chance to believe that life was against me as a victim of sexual abuse. Additionally, being sexually assaulted for years by my father as well as by a Catholic priest gave me various reasons to stay in victim hood. As you can see, it was so simple for me to blame my family and the Catholic Church for everything wrong in my life. Bear in mind, it’s quite easy to get stuck in victim mentality, i.e., where we blame all our problems on others.
To explain you more deeply about the difference between being a victim and having victim mentality. There are a large number of people who are victims of horrible ordeals and traumas, for instanceː sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, violence or assault. So, it is actually how we respond to these situations and process our feelings that determine if we remain victims throughout our lives.
Surely, bad things do happen to good people. Namely, victim mentality is a thought that whatever bad thing happened to you like an insurmountable obstacle in life instead of seeing it as a challenge to be overcome, or a foundation for inner strength and compassion.
We are going to reveal you a little nasty secret ˗ staying in victim mentality actually give a person a feeling of power. Look how much she’s suffered! Oh, let me help you! There’s the hidden benefit of capturing the attention from the others instead of feeling completely disempowered by the bad experience. Furthermore, the victim gets stuck in a cycle of negative pleasure.
REMEMBER ˗ there’s always a choice, a way to do something constructive, no matter how difficult it is to let go of the status of being a victim.
In case you’re living in victim mentality, the small power it gives you is keeping you from expressing your full potential. Therefore, just stop feeling sorry for yourself as well as stop making other people feel sorry for you.
Undoubtedly, it won’t make your emotional pain disappear just because someone listens to your story. Ask yourself ˗ who could possibly feel sorry enough for you to solve your problems? It strengthens your victim mentality when the others feel sorry for you.
For example, take Louise L. Hay who could have been stuck in victim mentality. In other words, her childhood was a nightmare of living with an aggressive stepfather, being raped by a neighbor at the age of five, getting pregnant at the age of 15 as well as giving up the child on her 16th birthday. What’s more, this woman was devastated when her husband left her for another woman after 14 years of marriage.
Luckily, Louise heard some say, “In case you’re willing to change your thinking, then you can change your life.” This woman decided to do the same, and succeeded in it, i.e., she became one of the best-selling authors in history and also the founder of Hay House, which is the publishing house of many esteemed self-help and self-empowerment authors.
Plus, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and used forgiveness, nutrition, therapy, and some alternative methods to heal her disease, including giving up any resentment over her childhood abuse and rape. This woman actually expressed her key philosophy when AIDS hit her hometown of L.A., by starting her famous “Hay rides.”
In case you get stuck in such problems and do not deal with your feelings and release them, then you will always be a victim.
It is of a great importance to remember that moving beyond victim mentality towards self-responsibility does not actually mean that we are over it and forget our pain, but it means that we acknowledge we have the power to heal.
1. Identifying how you feel
Certainly, it can be quite difficult at times to recognize what you feel and much less why you are feeling it. However, knowing what you are feeling is a crucial step. Absolutely each life transformation starts with larger awareness.
Here are several effective ways to help you identify what you are feeling:
One of the most useful ways to start recognizing your emotions, is by answering the following question: What do I feel right now? Are you jealous, lonely, stressed, resentful, or angry? The only thing you should do is to choose a word that describes what you are feeling in the moment and write it in a notebook.
In case you can’t find the words for what you’re feeling, Google list of emotions online and you’ll find plenty.
Also, it is advisable to try this: The next time you are experiencing an uncomfortable sensation in your body, see if you can identify the emotion behind the signal your body is giving you.
Don’t suppress what you are feeling, for instance find a place where you can be alone and quiet. Afterwards, breathe deeply and become aware of your body. Moreover, gently pay attention to each area of your body in which you feel tense or uncomfortable. Try to consciously relax that area, and let yourself experience the feelings coming up. Bear in mind, some practice may be necessary before you arrive at any deep insights. Finally, just let the feelings be and don’t try to change them.
2. Releasing your difficult emotions
After identifying your emotions, you should acknowledge their power and release them, i.e., let them flow through and out of your body rather than keeping them in some place inside of your body. For example, you can feel sadness, anger, fear, and anxiety without succumbing to hopelessness and despair.
It is unnecessary to revisit or remember the traumas you have forgotten or suppressed in order to heal. You can effectively release your old wounds by simply learning to acknowledge and release the emotions you are experiencing in the present.
What’s more, I have used three main methods for identifying and releasing my feelings:
1. Write in a journal. First of all, spend a few minutes describing how you feel right now. Alternatively, write about something that happened to you today, and then just let go as well as write whatever comes up. Writing actually processes your emotions; you put them onto a paper and eliminate them from your head and heart. In fact, this is a more in-depth process than the notebook with one-word descriptions of the moment. As writing about how you feel, you may find that your feelings start changing.
2. Meditation or other contemplative practices. An excellent way to develop clarity and anchor yourself in the present moment is by learning to sit in a quiet internal space of peace. This method actually gives you the spaciousness to see your emotional reactions from different perspectives as well as release them in a safe way.
3. Counseling. In case you become fearful or very anxious about memories that may be surfacing, you have to get professional help from a physician, therapist, or other qualified practitioner.
Emotions connect with thoughts and beliefs
Most often, our emotions are based on the beliefs and perceptions that we developed in childhood.
Have you ever found yourself lost in the swamp of depressed, miserable thinking such as I’m never going to find a friend as I’m unlovable, or it’s impossible for me to get a job, lose weight, leave my abusive partner, be a good parent, and so on? So, don’t try to suppress your negative thoughts, and let yourself feel them and then ask yourself this question: Why am I saying that to myself? Note that this is actually part of being aware of your feelings, which is a beneficial step towards emotional healing.
Additionally, Drew Barrymore is today a movie star and a very successful producer, but she easily could have drowned in self-pity and negative thinking as a result of the chaos of her upbringing. To be more concrete, as a young child, she was under intense pressure to bring in money. She reveals, I was always afraid if I didn’t work we wouldn’t have anything to eat and we’d lose our house. Hence, I had that 40-year-old male mentality of needing to provide for my family, when I was just three years old.
She also reveals that she was raised with the belief that she should bury her problems with drugs, alcohol, and sex, which contributed her to become a wild child, in and out of rehab by the time she was 12. Moreover, in Parade magazine interview, she pointed out:
You want to blame on people, but I don’t believe it is fair. Speaking for myself, I thought ˗ what a waste of time to be angry at my parents or to feel sorry for myself. The ideal thing I can do is learn all the things I’ve learned from them, of course, good and bad, have my own family someday and just keep on going.
It is really possible to change our misguided beliefs and thoughts and start a journey of healing, according to Drew Barrymore,
You can get sick due to suppressed emotions
A host of problems can be triggered by burying emotions without processing them in a healthy way. It has been proven and currently more and more evidence is mounting that our emotions have a direct impact on our bodies.
For instance, researchers at Duke University Medical Center monitored atherosclerosis patients and found that those without emotional support from a spouse or friend had a 50% mortality rate over 5 years compared with those with this vital support who had a 17% mortality rate.
According to the Montreal Heart Institute researchers, heart attack sufferers who also had depression had a 6-month mortality rate of 16%, whereas those who didn’t suffer from depression had a 3% rate.
A more comprehensive study that included 17,000 people showed that those who had experienced one or more adverse childhood events were four to 50 times more likely to develop physical illnesses, from alcoholism, heart disease, fractures, diabetes, eating disorders to obesity.
But, this doesn’t mean that everyone who has experienced some kind of a trauma becomes ill at some point in life. Actually, it is not the grief, anger or fear itself that triggers illness, but if the feelings generated by the traumatic event or abuse are buried or suppressed in our bodies and minds, i.e., unexplored, unresolved, and unreleased. In such a way, we develop physical and/or emotional condition.
Your relationships are an excellent mirror of your emotions
Becoming more conscious about your interpersonal relationships can also be another avenue to explore along the way to emotional healing. For example, dealing with a rebellious child, taking care of an aging parent, or a straying spouse or the boss from hell ˗ all these relationships actually bring up your own issues. Despite, you can learn what you’re feeling by how you react to others, but you can also see how your emotions affect your relationships.
Usually, people who have been abused as children unconsciously look for abusive relationships as adults. Sometimes, people who suffer abuse can become abusers themselves. It is estimated that 95% of people who commit child abuse were also abused as children. Specifically, they take out their emotions of anger, self-hate, sadness, confusion, and worthlessness in their relationships.
It is a fact that heartbreak is a universal experience. All of us have our hearts broken by betrayal, rejection, trust loss, etc. In case we shut our hearts down and try to escape from our pain, we actually lose our connection to our emotions. Just let yourself feel your emotions. Furthermore, you can go through the pain as well as come out the other side into strength and joy.
Learning to forgive is a great part of this process. However, forgiveness does not in any way imply forgetting and it doesn’t mean that we have to become best friends with whoever wronged us. We may never see or speak to this person again. But when we hold bitterness, hatred, and resentment in our hearts, it affects our health and well-being.
In addition, you don’t even have to tell the person you forgive him/her. Forgiveness simply means you are letting go of the negative feelings.
Keep in mind it is never too late to learn how to get and stay in excellent emotional health.