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Why do you avoid hurt?

It never ceases to amaze me how much we humans do anything we can to avoid feeling hurt. Feeling hurt often brings up unconscious memories of traumatic incidents from childhood, and also feelings of being powerless and totally vulnerable.

Threat to defense mechanisms

Such feelings can be very threatening to the defense and coping mechanisms you create to cover them up. Unfortunately, by the time you are an adult, it’s likely you mainly live in these mechanisms which essentially disconnect you from who you really are.

What covers your hurt?

A very powerful and simple practice to begin healing these hurts and create healthier and supportive relationships can be implemented in your daily interactions. The next time you feel hurt when relating with a loved one, you may not even notice it. Instead you may withdraw, get angry, defensive, freeze or just shut down. The first step to slowing down the process so it doesn’t get worse is to identify the typical reaction which covers your initial hurt.

Stop and go inside

When you notice yourself going into this typical reaction pattern, stop! As in literally, say to your friend/lover, ‘I need to pause’ or ‘Can we stop/slow down?’. Then check in with yourself, take a deep breath, go inside and feel what is happening inside.

Arguments are an opportunity

Couple having a discussion in the kitchen

You may think these suspiciously repetitive arguments are about ‘winning’ or proving that you are right or that your partner is wrong. Really, each of these arguments is an opportunity to unravel and be free from a a painful pattern within yourself. By doing this, you are not condoning the other’s behaviour, you are using the hurtful situation for your own growth, to learn more about yourself – the one thing you have control over.

Detach from the pattern

Detaching from the other and just being with your own experience is often the most challenging part of the process. Even when you feel hurt, you want to attribute it to another person or external cause, right?. While there is often an external trigger, the hurt is already there, more often than not, it’s been there for a long time. If anything, it attracts the same situations and treatment simply because it hasn’t been healed. It’s like an open cut which keeps getting poked or having the scab scraped off.

Focus on sensations

Once you have removed yourself from the entangled mess of reactions with the other, and gotten in contact with what is happening inside, keep it simple – focus on the sensations and emotions you are experiencing in your body. This is where your partner can help – both by holding you and asking you questions which help you feel deeper into your internal experience. Questions like, ‘What does it feel like inside?’, ‘Where do you feel that in your body?’ or ‘Is that a familiar feeling?’, can all help.

Reverse the tides

554df5b5cb7ce60d96cf8902ffaae08fBecoming more present at this level within you can be so powerful. In essence, what you are doing is reversing the momentum of an unconscious defense mechanism that has been developed. Like a massive wave that wants to crash on to your partner, causing damage both to you and your relationship, you are going against the tide and getting underneath the defenses.

More connected to you

You are moving into a standpoint inside that you used to occupy more when you were younger, and the best thing is that you feel so much more like the real You here! Even if it feels ‘unnatural’, this simple action is strengthening your connection with your true self rather than mechanisms and walls built on top, which are not you!

Separate to connect

Often in heated or hurtful interactions, both people get triggered and you may need to go through this process, one at a time, the other taking on the holding and prompting role. While it may not seem logical, separating out from the interaction with your partner when you have been triggered is one of the best ways to stay connected with them.

More connection all round

Two people’s defense mechanisms going to war with each other only causes more harm and leads to greater disconnection between the two of you. With the help of your partner, taking this approach of stopping and going inside, can help you both to feel more open, vulnerable and connected to each other.

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