Monday, November 8, 2010

Avoiding Pain

When I have a new client, it is usually pain that brings them to me in the first place. It is pretty common for people to come in and use the first session or two to kind of "bring me up to speed" on what is going on and what is happening in their lives.

It is also pretty common, as we work together, for me to begin to explore with them not only what is going on in their lives, but also answer the question of "what came before that?" A lot of that comes out in the initial history taking.

One thing that sometimes surprises people is that there is a direct connection between past and present. Often what is going on NOW has roots in the past. What that means, in practical terms, it is often necessary to talk about past wounds and heal them in order to alleviate today's pain.

It is not surprising that people sometimes resist that. I can't tell you how often clients have said, "That happened a long time ago and I don't want to talk about that because it makes me sad." It is my job to help them to understand the connection, and I try to do that with grace and compassion.

Exploring past issues can be painful, but I liken it to cleaning out an infected wound. If I avoid touching an infected wound on my body because it hurts too much, I may ultimately be allowing it to fester and get worse. What I have to do is tolerate the pain of touching it and cleaning it out, so that I can have relief.

It is the same with emotional pain. I may avoid that past hurt in my life, but it is festering down there somewhere and the symptoms I have today may very well be the result of the festering. If I touch the pain and heal the wound, my today symptoms may subside.