So often we don't know how to sit with the pain and allow it to teach us.
Learning how to write with tools that reveal the strength in your story is a priceless experience.
Years ago I had an opportunity to work with a woman in her 90's to record and write her life story. She had a remarkable memory and even now when I look back on text I wrote from our recorded interviews, I'm surprised at the level of detail at which she could recall childhood memories.
Each time we'd meet, she would tell me of the pain and heartache she felt because she couldn't ever remember her mother holding her and saying, "I love you." Her mother was bedridden for many years and the responsibility of childrearing fell upon the oldest sister.
When I think of hearing this 90 year old woman repeatedly express the pain she carried from childhood, I feel sad that her pain was the main focus. She had many other beautiful stories and memories from her growing up years but they didn't take center stage in her mind and memory.
Over the years I developed memory techniques that I began using with my clients. They started to peel back the layers of their stories to make major breakthroughs and discover more about themselves in the process. This doesn't mean there isn't pain and conflict, but now with my help they've been able to reveal and learn more about their strengths.
Our emotions are transformed into thoughts and then into beliefs about the particular experience that triggered the emotion. We don't 'escape' the pain. We need to learn to reconcile the pain. If we don't, it will always be playing in the background of our thoughts. Just like this 90 year old client who never processed the pain and trauma of not feeling loved by her mother. Instead, she died with the belief that THE PAIN WAS HER STORY.
One story does not define you. Unless you allow it to.
Don't fool yourself into thinking that if you don't focus on those painful and difficult memories they will just disappear. They will still have power in how you respond in this moment. Take time to write about your life. Reveal the pain. Learn from it. It won't destroy you. It can empower you if you do it correctly.