Monday, March 22, 2010

Potential, Pain and Lindsey Vonn

I can't even imagine how frustrated Lindsey Vonn is. I would assume she must have had high hopes of multiple gold medals at the 2010 Olympic Games. But a deep bruise from an accident resulted in pain, which she had to ski through. If she didn't have the pain, could things have been different? Perhaps they might have been.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When People Won't Let Go Of Their Pain (and how to help them)

Do you know someone like this? They are in serious pain (physically or emotionally) and you'd think they want relief. But, they rebuff efforts to help them, perhaps even sabotage suggestions or treatments, all the while saying (or showing) how bad they feel and how much they want help. It's especially difficult to understand if it is a friend or loved one. Here are some ways to help the people close to you in these situations.

First, understand that what they are doing doesn't make sense analytically (they may even understand that). What I often hear from clients is that it's like a part of them wants relief and another part is holding them back. That is absolutely true. What's holding them back are beliefs, which are driven by powerful emotions such as anger, fear, sadness or guilt.

How can that hold them back? An example is a fear of change. If someone is free of their pain (or can finally control it) then their life will be different. Their identity as a damaged person will change, both in their own eyes and the eyes of those around them. People won't be as solicitous or helpful. They will need to take more responsibility for their lives and actions. Make no mistake, that scares the heck out of people and many times they will do anything to maintain their comfort level for them, as painful as it may be.

With the work I do, helping people let go of emotional pain and control physical pain (in three-to-five sessions, guaranteed) I see this a lot. I hear the talk of desire to be free of pain and have a better life, but when it comes down to actually doing it, many people are so scared, angry or guilty they won't let themselves even have the possibility of relief. It's frustrating for me (since my business is helping people live better lives), but I don't live or work with them.

If you live or work with them, then what you can do to help them is understand, first, you can't force another person to change. Understand that it's a problem with their belief system and trying to solve it analytically won't work. They may feel better if allowed to vent or share how they feel, but it's your choice whether to listen (and it can be frustrating to listen to the same litany over and over when they aren't doing anything about it). You can validate how they feel - acknowledging that they have the right to their feelings (that can help a lot). You can encourage them to not isolate themselves - to interact with people (real or virtually).

The bottom line, though, is that it's up to them. You can be supportive, encouraging and empathetic but it is their choice. The best thing you can do to help them (and yourself) is to let them be who they are and avoid taking responsibility for what they do and how they feel.