STONE ELEVEN CONTINUED
Feel: I allow myself to feel. My emotions are part of my being. By allowing myself to feel, I heal and grow.
Instruction: Feel pain.
All of our emotions serve a purpose, and although pain is one emotion we would rather do without, it serves a purpose. Physical pain is an indication of danger, hurt, or harm. If we place our hands on a hot stove, we will feel pain. The pain serves a two-fold purpose in this case. First, it tells us immediately to remove our hand, and second, it tells us not to repeat this action again. There are times in our relationships when we tend to ignore pain. We might be in a relationship with an abusive individual, and pain is there to tell us immediately that first, it hurts, and second, we should never put ourselves in a position where it can happen again. In spite of pain’s warnings, we might try to bury the feelings or pretend it wasn’t as bad as we thought. The worst response we can have to pain is to determine that it was our fault, at least initially. If we look at the analogy of the stove again, we could say that it was our fault that we placed our hand on a hot stove. If we did not know the stove was hot, that it would burn us, or we accidentally touched it, then blame is of no benefit. After we did it once, our memory of the pain reminds us that if we do it again we will have no one to blame but ourselves, because now we know what can happen. The same is true for those in a bad relationship. Once they have been burned by someone, to allow that abuse to continue means that they are not learning from the pain of the past.
We are not suggesting that we wallow in our pain, but to deny it, suppress it, or to try to rise above it without acknowledging its intensity and devastation can put us in a place of denial that could allow us to let the painful experience be repeated. Many people have been through painful religious experiences, but because of their belief in the overall rightness of their brand of religion, they allowed the pain to continue. Sometimes we have the unspoken belief that the good of an organization outweighs the bad, and if that organization is doing a lot of good, perhaps we should “suck it up” and ignore the pain. We must remember that there isn’t a perfect organization. and that includes those that are religious and/or spiritual groups. Mistakes are made, and no one person, much less an organization, is perfect. We allow ourselves to feel the pain, and then we take the necessary precautions to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Take a brief inventory of times when you have ignored pain, especially mental or emotional pain. Also consider times when we have ignored the warning signs that we were subjected to pain due to religious abuse. Ignoring pain can lead to a life of accepting abusive behavior. Perhaps it’s time to rethink the value of pain in our lives and to look for warning signs that something might need to be changed.
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Our purpose is to help individuals to heal who have been injured by religion or the religious. We welcome your comments and questions.