A few months ago, I had a radio interview where a male caller spoke candidly about his past philandering ways. He swore he was a changed man these past 10 years, yet his wife still treated him as a whoremonger. The gentleman was at the end of his rope! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard similar stories and my heart sinks every time. Stories where women nurse their pain like a newborn baby, while punishing the world around them. I’ve seen first-hand how damaged a woman becomes when she holds on to the hurt. I grew up surrounded by many bitter women and their pain and anger literally killed them. I’d like to think we’re a wiser generation and we’re more capable of taking control of our lives, and far more committed to being happy.

Infidelity, abuse, and many other types of emotional suffering are hard to get past. In most cases, pain cuts deep and leaves us feeling vulnerable and helpless. Over time, we find ways to cope, but not heal. We often cope with negative behaviors that keep us hardened against the elements. Other times, our defense mechanisms leave us numb so that we can’t feel the hurt and painful reminders. But none of these approaches work towards recovery until we simply stop nursing the pain!

One of the primary tools in nursing your pain is continuing to feed it. Reliving painful situations causes almost the same amount of trauma as the initial incident. Reviving your pain paralyzes you and keeps you stuck in perpetual turmoil. Rehashing things keeps you from healing and living abundantly.

When I was 10, I accidentally tipped over a pan of boiling hot chicken grease which spilled onto my foot. I got second and third degree burns and it took three months before I could even wear shoes again and six months before the pain would go away. It had been nearly a year, and I still couldn’t go into the kitchen, let alone cook. My mother ran out of patience and sympathy and ordered me into the kitchen to cook again. I gave myself a stern talking to, and proceeded… and so did the phantom pains in my foot. But I persevered and before I knew it I was pulling my golden brown buttermilk cornbread out of the oven. I stopped nursing the pain and fear in order to move on to something that allowed me to grow and mature. I let go of the fear of hot grease and the pain of the burns 30 years ago. Today when I look down at my scars, it takes me a few seconds to even remember how they occurred. Healing your emotions works much the same way.

There are 3 steps – Grieving, Healing and Movement.

1. GRIEVING: Once any trauma has been inflicted, you won’t likely be the same as you were before. You’ve been robbed of your innocence, peace of mind, trust, etc. If you ignore the grieving process, there is no way to move to the next step.

There are five stages of grief: 1) Denial 2) Anger 3) Bargaining 4) Depression 5) Acceptance. Note: Most of us try to skip stage four as we feel we don’t have ‘time’ to be depressed. But this usually results in us being stuck in a perpetual loop that boomerangs us back to the Anger stage.

2. HEALING: This is the phase where you must find closure. Take your time to confront your issues. If you need to confront others, then do so. If you’re not able to confront others then you must find another way to gain closure. This is where forgiveness comes in to play. Your experience is a part of your story and it’s how you’ve come to be you. As long as you wish for things to be different, your wounds will remain open. It’s important to be completely healed and not just pretending to be okay. Unhealed wounds crack open all the time. Here’s where we learn to be kind, loving and forgiving to ourselves.

3. MOVEMENT: The final phase comes when you have resolved that you want to feel a different emotion, other than pain. That’s when you decide to move forward. There must be a conscious decision to put it all behind you and not allow pain and bitterness to alter you. There must be constant progression in your path. Without progression the human condition is to revert.