Pack Your Bags

Doctors often use the word trauma to describe the effects of serious injury to the physical body, and the bruising  that is left behind from the sudden impact. We can also experience emotional trauma in the same way, and the bruising can be just as severe as with a physical wound. Just like a wound to our physical bodies, emotional trauma requires care and attention so that it may heal.

 If the trauma is left unresolved, it may affect our sense of self and wholeness as a person. This in turn affects our relationships, by bringing a piece of “baggage” into our present.  Emotional trauma can result from any experience in which a person feels that their life or well being is endangered. These experiences can be a divorce, and affair, or other life changing events. Our natural instinct is to protect ourselves, and may manifest as avoidance, denial or repression of the event. Symptoms of unresolved trauma may include addictive behaviors, anxiety and depression.   

 The impact on relationships is severe- wounds that continue to fester, low self esteem, and a complete unawareness of the intensity of negative emotions that are present. Triggers are common, and may unintentionally reopen the wound.

 When trying to heal a trauma from your past, what can you do to resolve the unresolvable?

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If you have had a traumatic event that is affecting your relationship, here are some ways to begin the healing process.  

 1. Understand trauma and its affects- read books, talk with a therapist, and get some outside help. Trauma is very difficult to deal with alone.

2. Develop emotional resilience- as hard as it is, you need  to experience your feelings, not push them away. This can also be accomplished through the help of a therapist.

3. Learn new ways of self soothing- develop self caring behaviors that give you positive feelings. These positive feelings will also spill over into your other relationships.

4. Make sure that you give yourself time- and lots of it. Healing does not take place overnight, and everyone heals at their own pace.

 Healing of trauma is like the healing of any other broken body part, and essential to a whole, healthy life. Making efforts to heal brings us more into the present, making room for connection and intimacy with our loved ones. If you have suffered a trauma, don’t wait any longer to begin the healing process. You’ll be glad that you did. 

A Fair Fight

Conflict doesn't mean that your relationship is in trouble - it means that you are two living, thinking beings with individual opinions. Both happy and unhappy couples disagree - how can any two people share a house, jobs, in-laws, pets or kids without an occasional spat? Everyone disagrees at some point - but when do you know that things are out of hand? There's a world of difference between constructive criticism and dirty fighting. With the right tools and mind set, conflict can actually become a path to deeper intimacy - the chance to be seen as you truly are, to accept your partner's vulnerable and unique self, and to build a strong partnership.

Partnerships and couples need to have discussions, they need to solve problems, and sometimes they need to disagree, but they don't need to squabble, argue, bicker, or fight. Fights are dramatic, which is not helpful to a discussion. If you have enough energy to create drama, you have more than enough to tone it down into a discussion. Here are a set of guidelines you may find helpful in arguing.

  • Remember the point of the fight is to reach a solution, not to win, be right, or make your partner wrong.
  • Don't try to mind read. Ask instead what he or she is thinking.
  • Don't bring up all the prior problems that relate to this one. Leave the past in the past; keep this about one recent problem. Solve one thing at a time.
  • Keep the process simple. State the problem, suggest some alternatives, and choose a solution together.
  • Practice equality. If something is important enough to one of you, it will inevitably be important to both of you, so honor your partner's need to solve a problem.
  • Ask and Answer questions directly. Again, keep it as simple as possible. Let your partner know you hear him or her.
  • State your problem as a request, not a demand. To make it a positive request, use "I messages" and "please".

Next time you have an argument, practice some of these guidelines and you will be amazed at how the interaction will change.

The Price of Forgiveness

The Price of Forgiveness

No one gets through life without being hurt by another person. We all have experienced the pain of a thoughtless remark, gossip, or lie. If you have experienced an unhappy marriage, the devastation of infidelity, or suffered physical or emotional abuse, you know what it feels like to be hurt. It is tempting to hold on to these feelings and build a wall of safety around yourself, but the best way to heal is to forgive the person who hurt you.

But what is forgiveness, really? When you forgive another person, you no longer allow their behavior to cause you anger, pain, bitterness, or resentment. When you choose not to forgive, you make the choice to hold on to your feelings of resentment, anger, and pain.

Think of forgiveness as a gift that you give to yourself. It is not something you do for the person who hurt you. It is a gift to yourself because it enables you to stop feeling painful feelings and pushing others away. Forgiveness frees you from anger and allows you to restore your ability to have close and satisfying relationships with others.

Anger is a poisonous emotion that comes from being hurt. When you are consumed with anger and bitterness, it hurts you at least as much as it hurts the person who has harmed you. It is as if you are filled with poison. If these feelings are not resolved, they can begin to eat you up inside. You have two choices: to stay connected to the person who hurt you by keeping these poisonous feelings alive, or to let the feelings go and forgive the person who harmed you. When you withhold forgiveness, think about who is actually being hurt. It is more than likely that the person who is filled with anger and anxiety is you, not the other person.

Forgiving another does not mean you will never again feel the pain or remember the thing that hurt you. The hurtful experience will be in your memory forever. By forgiving, you are not pretending the hurtful behavior never happened. It did happen. The important thing is to learn from it while letting go of the painful feelings.

Forgiveness is not about right or wrong. It doesn't mean that the person's behavior was okay. You are not excusing their behavior or giving permission for the behavior to be repeated or continued.

 

Forgiveness can only take place because we have the ability to make choices. This ability is a gift that we can use it whenever we wish. We have the choice to forgive or not to forgive. No other person can force us to do either.