A radical approach to traumas and emotional pain
Many people say ‘I have been working on myself for years and have developed many skills and strategies for dealing with my emotional pain and traumas, but still there is something missing and still I feel a lot of pain from what happened and although I am better at managing it, it still hasn’t disappeared completely and still gets me when I least expect it. Just when I think I have dealt with that successfully and I have moved on, it comes back and it hurts and feels raw as if I’ve never done any work on it’. Join the club. We all feel like that, therapists or clients. All of the mental and emotional strategies are very good for alleviating extreme inner pain which comes from unacceptance of what happened, from the injustice of it and from the severity of that. And yes we need to continuously develop skills and strategies to make ourselves feel better in a crazy volatile and unstable world which one minute looks like it is becoming better and fairer and another minute looks worse than the past. And the inner work that we do is mirroring the ebbings and flows of the world around us. It can only help us to manage the traumas and the pain from not enough love but it can’t replace love. And on the other hand and in parallel to the inner work we do, we also need to drive in the opposite lane at the same time which is to consider that if we were supposed to process traumas easily and quickly, our brains would have been structured in that way. For many years I was going only in the direction of developing skills how to make myself feel better as above, and was succeeding to a great extent. And one day a very different idea occurred to me: what if we were designed like this on purpose, to struggle with processing traumas and to feel deep pain, and to be in strong resistance to what is, and what if this purpose is that we get moved from the pain to such an extent that we get acting to make changes and to make the world a better place. Imagine a world where humans process their traumas very quickly and seemlessly. There would be rapes, murders and abuse all around. 500 years ago, people in London used to watch hangings of pirates in their lunch break. They used to gather by the river at around 1-2pm, watch the hangings and then go back to work. If this sight happens to anyone of us today – we will be traumatised for life and we will never forget that experience. So the human brain in the past was much better adjusted to process traumas than the human brain today.
Clearly the brain is not developing in a direction to process traumas easier and faster. The brain is coming from that place and is developing in a direction to be more sensitive and more unaccepting of traumas and emotional pain. And while we continue developing on the road of ‘how do I make myself and others better’ we also need to start thinking what if there is a meaning of this direction of brain development and what are the benefits of this direction of brain development, not just the costs. It is our mental and emotional intollerance and resistance to injustice and suffering, and our inability to process traumas, that actually lead to making changes in the world from one year to another and from one century to another. If all people could process traumas easily we would still be living in the age of public hangings and short lives many people had those days. If all women were processing their traumas easily – we would still have no equal rights today. And if all minority people were processing their traumas easily – they would still have no equal rights today. What if the way to deal with traumas best is to accept that we are purposefully designed to be unable to process traumas so that we can stop these events happening. The ugly dysfunctional resistance, unacceptance that lead to so much inner angst and pain and that look so unkind to oneself and so maladaptive and so rigid and entrenched and leading to personal unhappiness are actually the propellers for change and progress and for making the world more equal and more just and in this way improving our health and wellbeing and prolonging our lifespans. What looks maladaptive and dysfunctional on the surface is the most adaptive and the most functional for the commmon good of humanity. Most human rights were achieved by this lack of acceptance of what is. A symbol of maladaptiveness and dysfunctionality such as Courtney Love, was actually the first woman who revealed publicly the truth about Harvey Weinstein. That was 10 years ago, a decade before other women gathered the strength to speak up. And if humanity was more sensitive at the time towards sexual crimes against women, her statement would have had much bigger consequences. Unfortunately at that time there were too many well-adjusted individuals in Hollywood and and in the press to take much notice of what she said. It took another traumatised person, son, brother, Ronan Farrow, whose sister was raped, and who could not process his trauma of being a son of a rapist and a brother of a raped woman, and his suffering was so great that it moved him to fight against the Harvey Weinstein establishment, which no one else had done before. His individual suffering brought so much goodness and progress for all women in the world. After his exposure of Harvey Weinstein, the world in 2017 is a far far better place for women than it was before. We can now talk openly about so many things that even a year ago we did not feel comfortable to talk about and the truth about how much women are still judged for being victims revealed so many rotten parts of the human consciousness which only until a year ago were kept hidden. Your pain and your suffering and your ever bleeding wound is moving you to action to make this world a better place for everyone.
It is not unusual for humans to drive with our thinking in two opposite directions. We do this as parents naturally. We are loving towards our children and we are strict towards our children. So the same approach can help us with our emotional wellbeing. On one hand we drive on the road of developing ourselves to process our traumas and heal our pains and at the same time we drive on the road of accepting our emotional suffering and looking at the benefits of it and stop counting only the costs of it. Abundant blessings for more love and more compassion in the new 2018.