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Creating Safe Places to Deal With Pain

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Motivational speakers use anecdotes and humour to inspire people to reach their potential. Motivational teachers help people understand why they do what they do, often drawing to the surface hidden beliefs and painful feelings.

I recently introduced myself to a group of people as a motivational teacher. I qualified this by saying it is different from a motivational speaker.

Motivational speakers use anecdotes and humour to inspire people to reach their potential. Motivational teachers help people understand why they do what they do, often drawing to the surface hidden beliefs and painful feelings. I concluded my introduction by saying that motivational speakers make people laugh, while I often make them cry.

I am a firm believer in the therapeutic power of laughter. However, I also believe people need to cry. It is important for people to create safe places within their lives to work through pain. Deep within each person is a need to release the emotional impact of painful events. Holding onto these traumatized emotions places us at risk of emotional and physical consequences. Medical health experts tell us that 80 per cent of people in hospitals today are there because of emotion-related illnesses. Unfortunately, crying has been labelled by many cultures as a sign of weakness and, from an early age, children are discouraged from expressing emotion. Still, there is a child within every adult looking for permission to express pent-up emotions.

I used to work in a building that housed a number of different companies. One day, a lady from another office stuck her head into my office and asked, "Why is it that everyone who goes into your office comes out crying?" I looked up and said, "I guess it's because it is a safe place to cry." She looked at me for a couple seconds and began to cry. I asked if she wanted to sit down and talk, but she quickly declined and headed back to her office, looking embarrassed and uncomfortable.

Whether conscious of it or not, every person is looking for an opportunity to express unresolved emotions. To suppress emotion is to cause an imbalance between the head and heart. Every person has the ability to think and feel, and both are required to live a complete, fulfilled life. The problem here has to do with the issue of pain. The pain of certain memories and the emotions they stir up can be so intense that a person will do almost anything to avoid them. The main strategy is to suppress emotions until they are almost completely dormant. The problem with this is that all emotions come as a package deal. When a person suppresses painful emotions, they also suppress the ability to experience positive, pleasurable emotions. Emotionally suppressed people can easily become the living, walking dead. They lack any spark or passion about life. They have lost the ability to feel their lives.

For better or worse, I want to be able to feel my life. This is why it is so important that I seek out safe places to work through pain and restore emotions. These safe places may take the form of an individual, a group of people or a workshop that provides the ability to express real, honest thoughts and feelings. As scary as the prospect may be, the payoff is to feel your life. What are you willing to do to feel once again?

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