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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: More Than the Pain, More than the Problem

Monday, March 12, 2012

More Than the Pain, More than the Problem

Recently someone asked me about how it is that I can listen to the stories of people's lives, their suffering, their mistakes, their frustrations, and most of all, their emotional pain and not see things as messed up, as hopeless, useless or utterly overwhelming. I thought it was good question, packed with lots of assumptions on the part of the asker, and I've been thinking about it.

Here's what I've come up with so far, in addition, of course, to the truth of my own professional training, personal and professional experience and my love of and belief in this work. I think that sometimes, things do seem messed up beyond repair. Sometimes, lots of times, feelings are so very big, or seem that way. And we do feel hopeless, overwhelmed and messed up. Or we think that some person or situation in our life is way too difficult. But I can listen because I am a fan of talking about things, obviously, and a believer that not necessarily are things only as they appear. I am really okay being with folks no matter what or how intense their feelings are or how crazy they think their problem is, or how vague. Feelings while so important are not always facts or at least not permanent ones, so that helps. I can listen to people and hear and understand because I believe that we are not the sum total of our pain or our problem or uncertainty though it can certainly feel like it when we are in it.

I do believe also that moving forward sometimes requires looking backward. That there is relief and progress not just from the talking and listening, but from a good discussion of what is, what was and what could be because we are more than the problem, more than the pain, more than we think we are when we are in the thick of it. And because I have seen and I have experienced that there is movement. We are able to expand, to grow and to be and feel better.

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