Many of us want to believe the old adage "time heals all wounds." While it may help, it does not necessarily completely heal old hurts. Wounds may scar over and feel less raw, but the underlying emotional injury doesn't fully heal. In fact, if it isn't addressed, it may never heal completely. Instead of confronting the pain, we may become really good at avoiding, denying, and numbing our pain through various means. We would rather choose the path of least resistance and bury the pain rather than dig it up. Often my clients will stop therapy when it's time to address unresolved issues from the past. They find creative ways to escape from their pain and the reality of their past. Of course not everyone has buried conflicts and emotional pain, but you'd be surprised at how many people have masterfully avoided, repressed, and denied past hurts for most of their lives. Time can lessen the intensity of the pain from loss, trauma, and abuse, but it doesn't address the problems head-on nor does it create a solution for healing. Often that which we resist, persists.
Some of us find positive distractions from our pain like work, exercise or family activities. Of course there is nothing wrong with being engaged in those activities, unless they become excessive and impede balance, rest, and dealing with emotional conflicts. Although it may be beneficial to put issues and conflicts aside for a period of time until things cool down or you've given yourself time to process the feelings, ultimately they need to be addressed. What if one person wants to talk through the issues while the other person avoids them? In that case having other outlets like journaling or letter writing can be beneficial. We can also lean on a trusted friend or family member to talk through our issues and seek some internal resolution and closure. Ultimately we want to find an effective way to release the emotional pain.
Mindfulness is another valuable tool to deal with emotional pain which focuses on our ability to be fully present in the moment. Through mindfulness training we become more aware of our body and what it's doing right now. Some may prefer mediation, yoga, or other forms of relaxation to reduce stress. When we experience negative feelings or a conflict, it is best to use assertive and healthy communication. Unfortunately, we don't communicate effectively all the time, so if you have messed up, regroup, forgive yourself, and try to address the issue in a more respectful way. Our ability to respond instead of react will prove to be a better response. Personally I've found that letter writing (even if never sent) is a powerful and effective way to confront pain, acknowledge the impact, forgive, and release the emotions and/or person. Lastly, recognize that we all experience hardship, conflict, and adversity, but it doesn't have to define us and remain inside of us forever. Stop running from your pain and choose to release it today.