Thursday, February 20, 2020

What To Do When A Person Won't Let Go Of Their Pain

Do you know someone, maybe a performer, golfer (or someone else) in emotional pain? Maybe it's coming out as being in a slump, choking under pressure, withdrawing from performance, competition, friends, or even quitting their career. It's a problem with their mental game, it's holding them back and you'd think they want relief. But, they rebuff efforts to help them, perhaps even sabotaging suggestions or solutions.

They may say (or show) how bad they feel and how much they want to overcome it, or they may just suffer in silence. It's especially difficult to deal with if it is a friend or loved one.

What can help is to understand that what they are doing doesn't make sense analytically (they may even understand that). What I often hear from the people I work with is that it's like 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 what's been holding them back (or can finally control it) then their life will be different. Maybe they can rise to the next level or get back to where they used to be. Their identity will change, both in their own eyes and the eyes of those around them. People won't be as solicitous or helpful (especially the competition or media). Make no mistake, that can scare the heck out of people and many times they will do anything to maintain their status quo, as painful as it may be.

If you live, work with, or represent them, then what you can do to help them is understand, first, you can't force another person to change. Telling them how to solve their problem won't work, they probably already know what to do. Platitudes or motivational quotes (such as just do it, suck it up, things will get better, keep your chin up, everything happens for a reason, every dark cloud has a silver lining, etc.) won't work either (they usually just aggravate the person you are talking to). Remember, 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, but it's your choice whether to listen (and it can be frustrating to listen to the same thing over and over when they aren't doing anything about it).

The bottom line, though (and I run into this with my clients) is that it's up to them. You can be supportive and encouraging but, ultimately, 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 think and feel.

David Kenward - The Mental Coach
(916) 802-5897