Pain is a powerful teacher. Does your heart hurt? Is your mental health suffering? Where are you experiencing pain? It is an indicator that something in our life needs healing; something needs your attention. If you are feeling this way you are not alone. You have my empathy, as I have struggled to heal certain parts of my mind, body, and soul. I know exactly what it is like to suffer. I hope this post can offer some insight on why we might suffer and tools on how to heal emotionally.
Programming a Child
Like most people in life, someone raised you. It could have been both parents, maybe one parent, grandparents, foster parents, or guardians. These people taught you how to act in the world. They taught you how to think about the world. They programmed you with ideas about finances, love, dealing with conflict, relating to the opposite sex, and even your own self-worth! This type of conditioning is programmed into us at a very young age. Whether they were making conscious choices on what to teach you and how to do it or not, chances are you inherited some problems.
Further, children must have their very existence validated. They need to be seen, heard, and accepted for the sweet innocents they are. Parents need to model unconditional love, teach them how to manage big and conflicting emotions, and support them as they grow into autonomous beings. Their sense of self-worth comes from being loved unconditionally and from parents being emotionally present. If love was conditional, or parents were emotionally absent, then the emotional development of the child could suffer. We might come out of our family units physically intact, but emotionally, we might more closely resemble a dumpster fire.
Self-betrayal is like pouring gas on the fire. It means doing things that are not in line with who you truly are, or what you truly want. It happens when you do not recognize the underlying pain and problems of your emotional well-being and are seeking external validation. You will do things that betray yourself in order to feel seen, heard, and validated. Some examples of this are saying “yes” to commitments that you really want to say “no” to. It might be putting everyone else’s needs before your own, only to feel resentment about it later. You might break promises to yourself. You say, “I am going to work out today”, or “I will go to bed early tonight”, or “I won’t spend money on that”, only to do the opposite. You might date people that you know are not good for you, in order to feel chosen, loved, or validated. Numbing ourselves with sex, drugs, alcohol, pornography, work, entertainment, or food is another reality of self-betrayal.
The Healing Power of God’s Love
My emotional health was suffering for many years. I did not realize how unworthy I felt. There were many years when I did not show up in my own life. I hid from my feelings because I did not know how to deal with them. I betrayed myself. You can numb pain and avoid dealing with your issues, but eventually they will catch up with you.
You can never get enough of what you don’t need, because what you don’t need won’t satisfy you. – Dallin H. Oaks
At some point, you will break, and the only thing that will satisfy you is Christ.
Jesus Christ loves us so abundantly. He can fill your broken heart with love and displace all the pain that you are feeling. When we pursue a relationship with God, He meets our pain with love. He heals our dysfunction with His promises. He loves you and will never forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). You are not a mistake, for all your days are written in His book (Psalm 139:15-16). You are His treasured possession (Exodus 19:5). He wants to show you great and marvelous things (Jeremiah 33:3). He sees you. He knows you. He understands you. He died for you. There is nothing that God the Father and Jesus Christ wouldn’t do for you (Romans 8:31-32). You can stop here and rest fully in His love. We cannot underestimate the healing power of God’s love. Allow your heart to be transformed by Him. God is love (1 John 4), and we were made in His image (Genesis 1:27). We are called to be love and show God’s love to others. We can start by showing love to ourselves! Love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10). Love has the capacity to heal your pain – grief, sorrow, shame, guilt, resentment, anger, bitterness, fear, and hatred, if we accept Jesus Christ’s promises and believe what He says.
The first person you need to forgive is yourself. What you did in survival mode is between you and God. If you have confessed and turned from sin, there is no need to keep beating yourself for it. An illustration of this is when Christ said to the adulteress, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11). He forgave her. And let her go. People wanted to stone her, as the price for her sin was death. But He has already payed that price for us. God removes our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). As we are forgiven, so we are meant to forgive. Forgive those that have hurt you; that have caused you pain and suffering. People project their pain outward. Have you ever felt insecure, so you treated someone else terribly as a result? People’s actions are a direct reflection of their internal world. If someone has mistreated you, it’s because they are suffering and afflicted in some way. It was never about you. Forgive them and use your precious energy to create a beautiful life for yourself and your loved ones.
The Healing Path
The healing path is cyclical. It’s a journey that ebbs and flows over time. We are called to wake up our mind, to be conscious of our thoughts, and to heal our pain, so we don’t project it onto others. It’s a lifelong walk that teaches us the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You are given opportunities to apply some wisdom, apply what you have learned, and then wait for more lessons. In my experience this happens repeatedly until the day we die. It’s the conversion process, and it’s going to take a lifetime, so be gentle with yourself as you heal.
There is no one way to heal emotionally. It’s a combination of taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Here are some ideas that might be helpful, some of which I adapted from Dr. Nicole LePera (@the.holistic.psychologist on Instagram).
- Physical healing: proper nutrition, prioritize movement, connect with nature, drink enough water, proper sleep, journaling, gratitude, and breathwork.
- Mental healing: keeping one small promise to yourself daily; build the foundation of good habits; learning to say “no” to what does not serve you; and practice keeping boundaries.
- Emotional healing: find play, create human connection, connect to childlike curiosity, cultivate a new hobby, help others, listen to music, and create something.
- Spiritual healing: Spend time with the Father every day in prayer, read scripture, fast when you feel hurt or lost or need guidance, meditate on His word, and fellowship with open, honest brethren that are willing to share their struggles and hear yours.
No Way Out But Through
Suffering from emotional pain is no joke! It hurts horribly, but you need to face it, softly and with compassion. You might be struggling to name your big emotions and how to heal them. If that’s you, I see you. I was there too, and I know what it’s like (1 Peter 5:9). Remember that God loves you and will never forsake you. He is not counting your sins but standing there, holding your hand and helping you through the learning process. Pain can get passed down, projected onto us, and come from our own choices, but we can stop the cycle with His help. Ask God to shine a light on your darkest parts so that you can grow, evolve, and heal from them. Ask Him to gift you the blessing of seeing yourself more clearly. Remember that there is no one right way to do this, and there is no way out but through. I look forward to the day when God will wipe every tear, and there won’t be any more death, crying, or pain (Rev 21:4). Until then, you have an army of support and the strength of Christ Himself.