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5 reasons you may be holding on to emotional pain

Past challenges and trauma often leave us in emotional pain that we carry around for years. Letting go of such pain is possible, so why do we hold on to it instead? Below are five reasons why that may be the case:


1. We may keep our emotional pain because it is familiar to us. It is a “known.” We crave knowns in our life because they give us a sense of stability and order. They allow us to predict what’s coming around the corner (even if it’s unpleasant), and we feel much better when we can anticipate our future. The “unknowns,” on the other hand, make us feel uncertain and out of control. When we don’t know what’s coming next, we tend to imagine that it will be negative (we call this anxiety).


Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels


2. We may hold on to the pain because we carry emotional scars as a badge of honor. It distinguishes us as sufferers and may entitle us to “privileges,” such as withholding forgiveness or receiving special care from others. Therefore, we may have a hidden benefit in the experience and may treasure the pain subconsciously while disliking it consciously.


3. We may hold on to the pain because it becomes a part of our identity. We stop identifying ourselves as healthy, joyful individuals and instead see ourselves as hurt and limited. Some people, in fact, go as far as introducing themselves as “damaged.”


4. We may continue to carry pain because we don’t believe we deserve any better. Our self-esteem and self-worth are so affected by the events of the past that we begin to see ourselves as undeserving (or maybe incapable) of experiencing anything better.

5. Finally, we may hold on to the pain because of our beliefs around healing and change. For example, we may believe that profound change is not possible or that healing has to be a long and difficult process. An American writer Nora Roberts routinely includes magic and healing into her stories. However, healing in her novels is always a very physically draining process that brings relief only after some intense pain. Clearly, she has some definitive ideas about the way that healing must occur.


Our beliefs define our reality, and our expectations about pain, healing, and our self-worth can determine whether we allow ourselves to let go of the past pain and how fast. Modern science and common sense may tell us that recovery from a serious physical illness must take time and effort and in some cases may not even be possible. Yet, cases of spontaneous or miraculous healing do exist (Anita Moorjani, Dr. Joe Dispenza, and others). And if physical healing can defy expectations, why can’t emotional healing do the same?


Are you still carrying around some pain from the past? Do you believe you are settled with it for life or are you ready to let it go and walk away whole? If you are ready to move forward, a variety of therapeutic options are available today – everything from traditional methods (psychology, psychotherapy) to holistic methods (hypnotherapy, EFT, etc.) to metaphysical methods (soul recovery, etc.). Select a path or a combination that feels the most comfortable to you, and walk away from the pain.

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