Did you ever wonder why you felt like you did not understand your emotions? As kids, anything seemed possible and everything was a wonder, for many, and not so for others. Some, who had expectations placed upon them of being above average were told they were disappointments, indicative of less value. Sadly, this can impact personality traits and cause immature behaviors in adults. For instance, if a child is told to “stop crying – big boys or girls, don’t cry”, the later adult is very likely to avoid complete emotional connections for fear of losing control of themselves.
Alice Miller, The Body Never Lies (2005) quotes;
“The way that we are treated as small children is the way we treat ourselves the rest of our life”. This is true unless we understand our emotions and why we have them, when we have them. In the example above, shutting down, or emotional avoidance, can impact a person’s self- esteem greatly eventually causing anxiety and depression. When people say, “I feel lonely in a crowded room, or with my partner”, it is, generally, because they are holding down their own emotions for so long they do not really know how to express them appropriately. To have a truly intimate relationship, one must know who they are, and are not.
Many people with chronic pain issues are wanting more than anything to have an intimate relationship with someone else so badly they are willing to become a “people pleaser”, putting everyone’s needs ahead of their own. This is not because it is a choice, but because they do not know their own needs, not having been allowed to explore them. When children think they were a disappointment, as adults, they try very hard to please others to validate their existence with pleasing, perfections, and holding down their emotions. People pleasers do what everyone else wants because they do not know what they want except to be approved of, and sometimes starts to feel like pity. When this occurs depression and anxiety are likely.
Chronic pain is a trauma, even post-acute stress, and is a crisis in your life. This requires emotional understanding and support. This is the time to learn about inner strength and what is really important for your future. Overcoming the barriers to healthy emotional growth is key. All emotions are relevant, and all are insightful to a healthy emotional growth. But, actions can be inappropriate. People who experienced emotional developmental bias, not being good enough, being a disappointment, holding down emotions, and shutting down, and have chronic pain, need to release their false values and beliefs from childhood preventing recovery. Knowing who you really are, not your adapted self, will help you learn what you need to do to be yourself and gain direction in your life. Your life belongs to you, not someone else.
If you are a person with chronic pain know that reducing the negativity in your thoughts about yourself, self- soothing and adding positive talk, can give way to making commitments and reach goals. The key is to do it for yourself. Please contact me for further information about chronic pain emotional recovery.
The next posting will be about early life trauma common among chronic pain sufferers, so please check back for that in the near future.