How to Be Free
Author: Joe Blow

Chapter 18
Emotional Scars

Often we will have an experience which will leave us with painful feelings long after it is over in a physical sense. But if that experience was inflicted on us by a person who is no longer present or the result of a situation we are no longer in, then that individual or situation is no longer the source of our suffering. We are suffering because of the nature of our thinking about that event. We are torturing ourselves for no good reason, since the past cannot be changed.

We can see that the emotional scars inflicted by an experience are not based on how painful it was. I once lay strapped in a hospital bed begging the doctors and nurses to kill me. I felt that the whole of human history was going to come to nothing and that it was all my fault. I canít imagine much more intense psychological suffering than what I went through then, but that memory holds no pain for me now. That experience is in the past.

But if we are caught up in ďif onlyĒ thoughts or self-recrimination, then we can prolong our suffering indefinitely.

An example of this might be if a guy left his baby to play unsupervised on the front lawn and it crawled out into traffic and was killed. The trauma of this is liable to be greater than if the baby were killed when a car crashed into the back of the car the father was driving. The death of the child is the same, but in one case the father is liable to blame himself, in the other case less so. Similarly, if a girl is raped, how much psychological suffering she experiences afterwards may depend on whether she thinks of herself as a victim or a survivor.

But in all cases the past in still the past. It canít be changed. Feelings of recrimination or regret are not required, but are almost certain to occur all the same. Like all emotions and thoughts they are best accepted. Thoughts ask only to be thought and feelings ask only to be felt. The path to letting go of them is to not fight them.

 

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