Posts Tagged ‘therapy’

Do You Have a Hard Time Forgiving People? Here’s Why, and What You Can Do Instead

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

You have undoubtedly heard or read how good forgiving those that have hurt us is for our emotional and physical well-being. And it’s true: many studies have shown that forgiveness has a very positive effect on our health. However, forgiving others is sometimes very difficult, but the people who preach about and advocate forgiveness often don’t acknowledge that.

If you’re one of the many people who have had a hard time forgiving everyone who has hurt you, I have some good news: You can get the same benefits forgiveness provides without having to forgive all those people.

To explain why forgiving can be so hard and how to heal emotional wounds when it is, I’m going to use the analogy of an automobile accident. Imagine that a driver is proceeding through an intersection. Then another drive runs the red light and crashes into her car, and the first driver suffers some deep cuts, a broken arm, and some internal injuries. In that scenario, it would be absurd for the emergency medical technicians, the emergency room doctors and nurses, or anyone else to tell her to forgive the other driver. And, of course, none of them would do that. They would all do everything they could to take care of her and give her the treatment  she needed so that she could recover as rapidly as possible.

And hopefully the injured driver would be doing all she could to work with her medical team so that she healed quickly. Obviously it would be silly of her to give anything less than a 100% effort to her healing process because of any anger she felt toward the other driver.

Once our injured driver had completely healed, her car was satisfactorily repaired, and her life was back to the way it was before the accident, chances are that she wouldn’t dwell on angry thoughts about the other driver. She would probably see that it would be in her best interest to do whatever she could to minimize the chance of her ever being in a similar accident, and then focus on living and enjoying her life.

Getting back to the title of this post, if you are angry at someone, then you have been in the equivalent of a car accident with them. And what’s called for is to get the treatment you need to heal your wounds from that accident.

Many treatments to do that are available. I’ve written about some of them in previous posts and you can learn about many others by doing a search on “healing emotional wounds” in Google.

My best wishes as you heal your wounds. And once they’re healed, chances are very good that your anger at “the other driver” will be gone.

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Tom Robinson, who has Crohn’s disease himself, helps people struggling with chronic illnesses feel a lot better and enjoy life a lot more.

Get his free E-Course: How to Raise Your Energy – and Your Spirit – in Just 21 Days.

Do You Have an Identity Crisis?

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Many of the people I work with have told me that besides taking away some–or many-of the abilities they had when they were healthy, and besides bringing unpleasant and painful symptoms into their lives, their chronic illness caused them to question who they are.

Before their diagnosis, they saw themselves as competent, active, productive, and engaged partners, spouses, parents, and friends. Then they become ill and lots of things changed. They couldn’t do all the things they formerly could, and they often become dependent on others. Also, they sometimes grieved for the person they no longer were and wondered, sometimes for a long time, who the person was that they became.

If any of what I’ve described also applies to you, the first thing I will say is my mantra for everyone with a chronic illness: give yourself LOTS of compassion – compassion for yourself for any grief you have for the person you no longer are, as well as compassion for all the difficulties that having a chronic illness has brought into your life.

Here’s some information that may surprise you: there is another group of people who often go through identity crises when their lives change. I learned from a prominent chronic pain doctor, who has a revolutionary method for treating certain kinds of chronic pain, that many of his patients resist getting well. They resist because they have gotten used to, and have identified with, being a person with chronic pain. This doctor has found that his patients usually need lots of counseling or therapy in addition to the treatments he gives them.

From the stories that doctor told about his patients, it’s clear to me that people have a hard time, i.e., an identity crisis, when their life circumstances and their roles change. But I’ve learned, both from my own life and from working with my clients, that our true identity goes much deeper than our being healthy or sick, being “productive” or disabled (I put quotes around the word productive because I think it’s a quality that is often overrated), or being self sufficient or dependent on others.

But changes in our lives and circumstances, such as having a chronic illness, give us an opportunity to examine our identity that we otherwise wouldn’t have. For example, we often discover more compassion for others within us than we realized was there. We may discover that the things that are important to us are different from what we thought they were.

I could say a lot more about the identity crisis that many go through when they have a chronic illness, but for now I’ll close by saying that I would love to get your thoughts and experiences about any self-identity struggles and changes you’ve had since you’ve had a chronic illness. If you go to share your self identity thoughts, I will include your comments in later post about this topic.