Don’t Let Your Hurt Poison Your Heart
I recently posted this statement on our Aspire Facebook page, and one person commented, “How do you do that?”
Most people in prison come from broken homes with pasts full of misery. We see this often. The abused becomes an abuser. The victim becomes an aggressor. The hurt becomes an offender.
All of us are susceptible to this phenomenon even on a smaller scale. A bitter leader lashes out at his people. A boss, who has problems at home, takes it out on the people at work. A person who has been stabbed in the back by a close associate is unable to trust his colleagues.
So how do we not allow our hurt to poison our heart? Here are three steps to guide us in overcoming hurt.
Absorb The Pain
When I was a teenager, I was very physically fit. I lifted weights consistently and trained with semi-professional body builders. My abs were so strong that the young men who studied Karate loved to demonstrate how they could punch or kick me in the stomach with full force without much impact to me. Today, if they did that, I would need to go to the ER for sure.
How was I able to absorb the power of the punch? I practiced different techniques consistently to tone and strengthen my muscles. If I could not absorb the force, it would have destroyed me, maybe even given me a fatal injury to my spleen or abdominal blood vessels.
How can you build your heart and mind, your soul and spirit, to be able to absorb the sometimes fatal punches life throws at you?
- Deal with the existential questions—questions about why we exist and what comes after death. Why? Because many blows that come at us in life shake us at these foundational levels.
As a doctor, I see people facing these questions often. Over the last few months I’ve seen patients with testicular cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and other debilitating diseases. I can send these patients (and I do) to the best doctors, surgeons, psychiatrists, and psychologists. But at the end of the day, they have to face the inevitable—the question we will all face at some point: What if I die?
I recently met with a mentor of mine who is an executive at a children’s hospital. He told me about dying children with diseases which have no cure. He told me story after story about how these children saw visions of heaven before they died. If you want to absorb, not transmit, the pain in your life, you’ve got to have a solid spiritual foundation.
- Create healthy boundaries. It is going to happen repeatedly throughout our lives: people will hurt us. Abuse at home, betrayal from friends, or misunderstandings that become animosity between loved ones: these blows can wear us down. So, how do we strengthen ourselves to withstand these attacks?
We must consistently work on our character and our understanding of people’s temperaments. We need to grow in what we expect from people, in how we love and forgive others, and in how we establish boundaries for ourselves. Becoming knowledgeable in these areas helps us to clarify our expectations of the relationships in our lives. It helps us to absorb pain when we get hurt by others, rather than retaliate or transfer that hurt to someone else.
- Surround yourself with the right people. Be intentional to have supportive people around you. People who can offer you wise council. Some of the biggest blows for me personally could not have been handled well without the close relationships I have with my family, friends, and mentors. No way. If it were not for them, I would be in a much worse place in my life today.
Absorbing the pain means you deal with it internally. Yes, tears may be a part of your process. Sadness, grief, and hurt are all a part of our journeys. However, it need not define who we are. We need to feel those feelings, deal with those issues, and move on. We have to learn how to do that slowly, one lesson after another. Discover systems to help you handle life. We’ve got to grow, so we can absorb pain.
Transform The Hurt
Can hurt become healing? Can sadness become joy? Can abuse become love? It often does not. But yes, it absolutely can.
If we determine to deal with the deeper issues, and not just the circumstances we are in, we can grow through the pain. We can become stronger. “Grow through it; don’t just go through it.” That’s easier said than done. When I am going through a rough place, my prayer is that God will help me to grow in wisdom so I can better understand how to solve the issue.
So, I want to challenge us today to transform our pain into beauty. Some of the most gracious people we know have gone through indescribable misery and abuse. Think of Nelson Mandela, imprisoned over 25 years without just cause. Yet he came out a kinder and gentler man, not a bitter one. Overcoming hurt is never an easy process, but it can lead us to become better people, better citizens, and certainly better leaders if we are intentional to grow through it.
Transmit The Healing
Those who have been hurt the most are often the ones who are able to love the most. But only if they were able to absorb and transform the hurt. If they have navigated their healing process effectively, then they have enlarged their capacity to empathize with others. They have developed a greater ability to touch the lives of others. They are able to extend greater grace because they have acquired grace through their own trials.
As you walk through painful times in your life, call on a few close people around you that can offer support, love, and encouragement. Strive to be that kind of person to others as well. View your trials as opportunities to not only grow yourself, but also to enlarge your capacity to support others as they go through hard times in their own lives.
When you’ve been hurt, even deeply wounded, learn to be grateful and recognize your blessings. Then transmit the power of your own healing to those around you. Rather than exuding pity, anger, and bitterness, choose to make a positive impact on your world.
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