We all carry some form of inner pain within us. Some people have gone through very traumatic experiences, others - less so, and then there are those who have been affected by the trauma in their family, community or country.
Some of my dearest friends and family experienced true hardship. They have either been directly affected, or they were traumatised by the experiences of war, loss, mental and physical abuse.
My post-war-born parents, whilst not directly affected by WW II, observed their parents crumble. There was no room for self-love, care or gratitude. As the borders between Ukraine and Poland and Poland and Germany shifted post war and families were moved across the country, homeland had little value and so did personal worth. There was no room for expression of feelings.
I have been impacted in ways no one would describe as traumatic, but in search for the most basic needs a human wants to fulfil - at an emotional level.
I carried my inner pain for years not knowing what it was, only feeling inadequate, incomplete and like a fraud.
It has taken a long time to start feeling enough. And what was required was to bring forth what lied within me…. All of it - the good with the bad. And embrace it.
We all carry a form of emotional pain within us, we may not recognise it.
It may present itself in a form of:
- lack of confidence
- disguise or a mask we put on
- passive-aggressive or aggressive communication or behaviour
- feeling inadequate or not enough
- feeling guilty and shameful even though doing things right
- feeling anxious, fearful or stressed for no apparent reason
How have I deal with my inner pain?
5 Ways to Manage Your Inner Pain:
1. Take Responsibility
Take Responsibility for your life. Or at least for as much as you can. We cannot ever take responsibility for others’ choices, words or actions. We can, however choose how we react and how we respond to any given situation. We do not have control over a lot of the things we wish we had control over. There is one thing though, which we can control and that’s our thoughts. How we think will determine virtually anything that follows – our decisions, intentions and actions we undertake, and that in turn will impact the reactions and outcomes we receive.
The choice is yours – how you think determines everything. And that is your responsibility. I have seen people who through blaming others wasted a lot of their time, their potential and their energy. I used to be one of those people and not that long ago, until I decided to change my thinking and ask different questions.
2. Take Another Perspective
To think differently than the way we have been conditioned to, by our upbringing and culture, is not an easy thing to do. Aside from regular mindful practices and gratitude (which I have written about before), you can train yourself to take another perspective by doing those three things:
1. Remember that every opportunity presents a challenge, but also - every challenge – opportunity. It’s your job to find those opportunities. Get curious about anything happening to you.
2. Ask curious questions if something negative is happening:
“What is this situations teaching me?"
"What am I meant to learn here?"
And if you want to shift things or move forward: "What would it take for me to… “
3. Set reminders with at least one of those questions to pop up in your phone or diary, at least once a day. Not only is it a great reminder to take a different perspective throughout your day, it is a great opportunity to pause and be present - mindful.
3. Overcome Your Guilt and Shame
People who experienced hardship in their life will often blame themselves or at least think one of the following: ‘What’s wrong with me?’ Why me?' 'What did I do to deserve it?
We experience shame when we think of ourselves as inadequate, not good enough, not [something] enough. Guilt is experienced when we feel we did something wrong. People who feel guilty either choose to make up to those they feel guilty towards, by overcompensating or by making choices that dis-align with their own values.
According to Brene Brown we need empathy to overcome guilt and shame.
In my mind, developing higher self awareness has always been the step towards higher self acceptance, confidence and overall self esteem and so less shame and guilt. Recognising though, that there is shame or guilt present in your life is the first step towards conquering it.
4. Tap into Your Inner Power
As a result of shame, guilt or inadequacy being experienced, we revert to others for reassurance of our own value. Other people are often the main source of power for the majority. We seek approval of parents, friends, colleagues when it comes to career choices, university courses, places of residence, holiday or evening outing destinations, even type of friends we choose to have. The more we depend on the social groups’ approval, the less room we leave for our own choices.
Inner power is in all of us and that is what’s required to make a true difference to our lives through developing higher self esteem and making true contribution to the world. The world does not need copies but the true our-selves.
In the words of Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure… “ (full quote here).
5. Be Authentic to Grow through Pain
Authenticity is what’s required for us to make the biggest impact. Leaders know it. Communicators know it. We all talk about it in forums, at conferences and workshops.
What does it take for you to be you?
It means bringing forth what lies within you. The good and the bad.
It means trusting that in the circle of life, what is required for us to grow is to be challenged, to raise to the occasion, to pick yourself up and grow, to be challenged again to raise and grow to again be challenged. To bring all of this into life means to transform the pain.