Category Archives: importance of core strengthening exercise
Hurts So Good?–Through Pain You Grow Stronger–Processing Childhood Emotional Pain So You Can Heal
Hi everyone. Today I was out on my patio getting my morning dose of Vitamin D from the sun (hallelujah, the warmth is finally here to stay!) and writing down ideas for my next post. When I was finished, the song “Hurts So Good” by John Mellencamp came on the radio I was listening to. You know the one…”sometimes love don’t feel like it should…” Anyway, I had to laugh out loud with amazement as it seemed like a sign from the universe/God that my topic was approved–it seemed clear that I should trust my intuition to write about what I had decided to focus on and that was: what hurts the most in life emotionally can reveal the truth of who we really are–and physical pain can teach us the exact lesson we need to learn to move forward–both kinds of pain help us grow and heal to become our best selves.
Of course the lyrics of the song do not imply that, but the title jumped out at me as confirmation and I have always loved that song! It always makes me want to get up and dance and celebrate being alive for some reason. Sometimes when you are feeling the pain from childhood wounds, acknowledging you were wronged, and you know you didn’t deserve it, you feel so much more alive and you have the right to your feelings about it!! Your anger can be channeled into positive energy to take action for your self and improving your life and moving forward towards your dreams! Also the song implies that you know how love should feel but you are willing to take the painful risk of loving again for the chance of being loved in return.
I so look forward to dancing again to songs like this and forgot how much I missed it until it was taken away when I recently injured my back/hip (S.I. joint)! My pain has almost completely healed. Yay! I still have restricted movements but I have so much to look forward to. And I am on my way to complete healing and I learned much–I will spare you the details until the end of this post for those interested.
Okay, so about the lessons to be learned from the emotionally painful things that happen to us…. I believe that all of us are here on this planet to learn lessons about who we are, what we are capable of, how to achieve inner peace, love ourselves the way we deserved to be loved, and how we can use our gifts to help others. For those of us who are gifted with high sensitivity and intuition it is so difficult to figure these things out until we realize that a lot of the pain we experienced as children was pain of the people around us that we just absorbed and internalized as our own.
One of the most complex examples contributing to many of my clients’ childhood wounds are when the parent is a malignant narcissist. I am sharing these examples of extreme cases in the hopes that they will be the most helpful. When a malignant narcissist starts to feel any emotional pain they get rid of it immediately by blaming the people around them. The highly sensitive child is the perfect target to take away the malignant narcissist’s pain because they absorb it completely and don’t retaliate. As kind and loving spirits, highly sensitive compassionate children would never dream of blaming someone else for anything so they can’t imagine that their parent might be wrong or sick or unhealthy in any way. Now that they are adults they are starting to see the light of how they were “used” to take away the parent’s shame, self-hatred, blame, and self-doubt. Hsps can heal as they acknowledge the truth that they were fine before malignant narcissistic parents took away their hopes and dreams and gave them their pain in its place. They absorbed it all and believed it to be true–saying to themselves, “I am to blame, there is something wrong with me, I am not good enough, I must try really hard to be someone else other than who I am in order to be loved, I am not as good as I think I am, I cannot trust my feelings, I must not make any mistakes, I am unloveable, I am unworthy, I hate myself, or I must be a disgusting human being for upsetting my parent in such a way.” This is what a highly sensitive compassionate child can determine to be true when they are not seen for the kind and sensitive soul they are but used for the dumping ground of the negative emotions of a highly dysfunctional family.
They numb their feelings to survive as children–They repress the pain and decide to be obedient (if they were the Golden Child) or they rebel (if they were the Scapegoat). Either way their mind protects them with illusions about their parents in this case because they need them to survive. They were after all children doing the best they knew how–there is no way for a sensitive child to detect danger when for as long as they can remember, this is what a loving family looks and feels like and it is ingrained in the neural pathways in their brains. They believed the distorted view that their malignant narcissistic parent presented to them and insisted upon because they believe in the goodness of life innately–they trust completely which is a beautiful thing. It is a wondrous gift to be able to trust in life, to trust in the universe, that it will support them and show them the way if they trust their feelings and our intuition. We have the inner guidance and wisdom to be happy and fulfilled, enlightened and loving, full of vitality with the perseverance to press on through the ups and downs of life. They all (HSPs) have this ability inside of them, this trust in the goodness of life, but it was taken away from them.
But what happened to them is not really about them at all. They were victims, yes, but they don’t have to be victims ever again when they work through the truth of what happened to them as children–layer by layer, injustice by injustice, voicing the truth of how much it hurt, how they didn’t deserve it, and see how they lost their trust in themselves and their feelings. Once you start this process of healing the layers, you feel lighter and a little kinder to yourself each time. It is a blessing when you are in the midst of an episode of despair because someone you trusted criticized you and you suddenly realize, “Oh wait, this is how I felt as a child when my malignant narcissistic mother would feel threatened when I expressed a brilliant creative idea and put it down–I was smarter than she was!” –or something to this effect.
DOCUMENTING YOUR TRUTH STATEMENTS is a method I invented during my years as a life coach. Journaling these revelations by writing statements of what you learned about yourself when a new layer of pain is uncovered helps to document your progress. Then when you are feeling lost, depressed, or blocked make yourself get out your journal and read over these statements and you will see the true voice of your soul being uncovered. Statements like “I had brilliant creative ideas as a child”, “I discovered I was actually smart”, “I was kind, caring and innocent and did not deserve to be criticized and abused!” These are truths come to light and will forever be true about you–they will help you change the internalized beliefs about yourself so you will develop your true voice. This will help you stop listening to your inner critic and say,” No! That is not true about me”. Then say your new-found personalized positive affirmations (truth statements) to yourself instead. Your self-doubts will gradually fade and your confidence will grow stronger and stronger.
Childhood pain comes up to be healed in layers–it is like the truth of your untold story from childhood wants to be told and when you are strong enough, the painful feelings pop up unexpectedly in your lives. You sometimes unconsciously provoke painful situations in our lives so that the original trauma can be healed. For example: you are feeling grouchy, irritable, numb, and lost, and you criticize your husband for not supporting you enough, for not just listening, (he is trying to solve it and tell you what to do and you just want to be listened to and heard). He responds with, “Something else must be wrong because I have been listening to you a lot lately but you are still really grouchy.” You blow up and yell, “I wanted an apology but instead you are attacking me” and you fall in a heap of crying, blaming, angry despair. The feelings directed at your husband are so real to you but you are actually experiencing post traumatic stress from your childhood. Your husband deserves about 10% of the anger that you are feeling but the other 90% is from your childhood. (90/10 Principle. John Gray,…Venus and Mars).
In that moment you are reexperiencing the unresolved feelings of your self as a small child with legitimate needs to be seen and reassured and loved–you were perhaps rejected by a malignant narcissistic mother who was too busy with her own agenda to stop and be the loving mother you needed in that moment. Perhaps instead she lashed out at you for being too sensitive, told you to knock it off and be quiet so she could think. When you cried harder she may have slapped you on the bottom, screamed at you, and told you that you were giving her a headache and to go play somewhere. You went to your bedroom and cried and cried and she ignored you–you felt rejected, scared, and humiliated but you felt so ashamed that your mother was angry at you that you wiped away your tears and went out and said, “I’m sorry Mommy I will try to be good”. Then, she smiles at you and says, something like, “good, you learned your lesson about obeying me”.
This is horrible abuse for a highly sensitive gifted child whose only way of surviving this situation is to be a shell of her former self, deny all of her legitimate feelings and needs for pursuing her gifts and talents and dreams, and become a little robot shell of a person with all her feelings pushed way down deep to the point of repression. A child incorporates the internalized message of, I must not trust my feelings or I will upset my mother/father and I need her/him. To the less than sensitive observer this exchange seems harmless enough and they might even think “what a good child” or worse “what a good parent to have such a child that obeys so well”. That is one reason that it is difficult for HSPs to change our negative beliefs about ourselves–most of society doesn’t yet understand or support a childs need to express needs contrary to the parent in charge.
You won’t feel guilty about leaving your abusive narcissistic family members behind when you understand that if malignant narcissists are in emotional pain for even a second, they lash out and blame someone else for it–they are not feeling pain the way you and I do–they get rid of it immediately. They put on acts of great suffering because they know it works to make us feel guilty. Don’t fall for it–it is all an act. They are going about their merry way without a trace of remorse or guilt. They pull out the tears and anguish when other family members are around to get them against you–they get relief and control back from these antics so don’t feel guilty about leaving all of the craziness behind.
So back to how pain is helping you have a better life…. The truth too painful to bear as children has to come up as the painful truth or you can’t acknowledge that it happened, release it, learn from it, and find yourself! It is a painful process but you are worth it! Your true voice has been in hiding for far too long. Next time something happens to you that is so painful it makes you want to give up on a person, try telling yourself, “this pain is exactly how I felt as a child when ___ happened to me!” Then write it out with all the pent-up emotion you can conjure up and see if you don’t feel better when as you write you realize you were an innocent victim and have a right to all of those feelings!
You may just be so grateful for the realization that you were a child who deserved so much more that you will even feel grateful for the person in the present that hurt you! They helped you bring a painful truth from your childhood to the surface to be healed. You healed a layer of pain from your childhood! On to the next! Soon you will begin believing in your goodness and see your inner wisdom and kindness. You will begin attracting only loving giving people like you because your bright shining light of your special highly sensitive intuitive soul can now shine through the existing layers making them much easier to process through. The illusions that helped you survive will fall away and a new-found confidence and ease will emerge.
So remember, from the layers of pain and hurt emerges the wonderful and amazing true YOU! You can do it! I hope that my words can assist you through this complex healing process.
Okay, now for the health update: The recent painful injury to my low back/hip sacroiliac joint (S.I.) is another example of how the universe/God helps us along our path with painful obstacles that are lessons in disguise.
My holistic chiropractor was unable to answer my many questions about what I could and couldn’t do and what would help and hinder my recovery. So I made an appointment with a physical therapist that was prescribed by my family doctor. She was able to tell me exactly what ligaments I had sprained, the reasons for my pain, exactly what movements to avoid and which ones were so safe so I could heal in the fastest amount of time. She explained exactly why it had happened to me–with no core strength in my pelvis from lack of exercise, the ligaments were sprained severely requiring 6 to 8 weeks to heal completely.
She explained that sitting and standing hurts because those actions depend entirely on the ligaments I strained, whereas walking uses different muscles. I can sit for a one hour at a time now, can drive for short periods, am allowed to walk on flat surfaces only, and should avoid all stairs as much as possible until I am fully healed. She showed me the correct way to pick up something from the floor, bending at the knees and holding onto something for support–I had been doing it wrong every time. She has given me homework of daily exercises to start strengthening my core muscles as I heal and I am doing them diligently!
Before I went to my physical therapist, there were 3 occasions when I had no pain in the morning (that is usually when I was in the most pain). I had gotten so excited I ended up doing too much that day and the next day I paid for it with pain that sent me back to the couch with ice and rest. The third time it happened I had this surreal moment of anguish but at the same time a moment of grace and surrender–a reminder of how, even though I was exiled to the couch, I had a glimpse of what I had learned spending most of the month of May on the couch unable to move without the severe pain recurring. The month of May gave me an entirely new perspective on my life and this moment of grace made me permanently slow down and appreciate that the small things in life were actually huge things to be grateful for.
It made me realize: the things I missed being able to do most were things I did not expect because they were lost in all the busy activities I took for granted. I missed most being able to sit up and play my guitar and sing my songs without pain. I missed being able to sit and write creatively on my computer for long periods (my last post I had to write and edit in long hand first). I missed being pain-free so that I could concentrate again and get back to coaching my clients–having chronic pain is exhausting and I had to put my coaching on hold for a while (but it has now resumed 🙂 ). Biking, hiking, and dancing were also activities I loved and never found time for. These are all things that have now been moved even higher on my priority list–maybe this injury is the only way for me to really learn what is most important to me in life.
A bonus from all this is that my husband had no idea how much I did around our home and has a new appreciation for all the years I spent managing our home because suddenly, he had to do it all! I didn’t even realize how much I took on. Now he has wonderfully agreed to continue taking on his share of these tasks even after I fully recover (including half of the grocery shopping 🙂 ). After all, I have a successful career too now and it is only fair! My husband was really amazed at how much work it was and he now has a new appreciation of how much time and energy I spent doing it. As I recover I am learning to delegate tasks that need taken care of, but more important than that, I learned to just let the unimportant things go so we can just spend more quality time together and be in the moment enjoying life! I am very grateful for a husband with such a kind and compassionate soul.
With every new victory in my physical abilities, we celebrate together and both of us appreciate our life together and our health so much more. Soon I will be able to dance again. We both loved to go out dancing together when we were younger–why don’t we do that more often! Now with my physical therapist teaching me core strengthening exercises, I am determined to get strong and enjoy things with my husband that we both love to do together: biking, hiking, and dancing! Yay! Through pain came important changes: the ability to slow down, be grateful, and relax and live in the moment; delegating tasks so I have more time to commit to the work and activities that I love; commiting to getting and keeping core strength and stamina; and letting the unimportant things go!
I hope my words have inspired you to look for and find the lessons amidst all the wonderful ups and painful downs of life. I hope I have helped you to find strength in the truth re-experienced by your wise and gifted inner child. And I hope I’ve helped you to slow down and discover the joys in the small blessings in your life.
The Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and The Body–An Awakening To the Importance of Listening To It and Core Strength
Hi everyone. I am back and writing again. Yay! I hope you are enjoying the beauty of this spring season and all the brilliantly colorful flowers. Thank you to those who commented or emailed me such wonderful wishes. It was quite a traumatic ordeal for me but I believe there are lessons in all things that happen to us–especially the painful things.
As a highly sensitive child, I have always been sensitive to pain and felt my pain more acutely than others–both physically and emotionally. I have childhood wounds related to how I was cared for during illnesses and also a hospitalization as a toddler. Being “laid up” as I have been the last few weeks has broken open many of those wounds so that I could remember, reframe them with the truth of who I was, and finally grieve, release and heal the repressed emotions.
I had always had a hard time when I was sick–I would beat myself up, blaming myself for causing it–always finding it difficult to rest in order to heal–sometimes even prolonging my illnesses because of the stress I added to the illness. I discovered this 2 years ago when I had 2 bad viruses back to back. I had to face up to the fact that I had to change how I pushed my body too far and was terrible at resting and relaxing. Things like this always have their foundations formed in childhood. My husband could see the patterns I couldn’t see as clearly. “Don’t be so hard on yourself, relax and let your body heal “, he would always say. “Take it easy, don’t do anything today but rest.” It helped but as soon as I recovered I’d go back to my bad habits of not listening to my body.
If you’ve read my post from June 15, 2010 on HSPs and allergies and stress-related illness you know that I am recovering nicely from adrenal fatigue. Developing stronger boundaries has definitely helped reduce the negative energy in my life and the “fight-or-flight” responses to stress that I had a pattern of. When your body reacts to stress with a fight-or-flight reaction you have increased cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body in the form of adrenaline. This is an “extreme fear” reaction that I believe many HSPs with childhood wounds do not even realize they are experiencing because it is combined with the numbing or anesthetic effect that goes along with the adrenaline rush. What I now have learned is that even positive events in life can trigger this fight-or-flight response if you had the daily trauma in your childhood.
It’s like post traumatic stress in a way–any event, positive or negative, can open the wound and the internalized belief “I am not good enough as I am, I must work extra hard to be perfect to be loved”. These are the roots of the compulsions of perfectionism, workaholism, burnout, and exhaustion etc. It is automatic and unconscious until we become aware of it, give voice to it, and then can reassure ourselves and calm and slow ourselves down. Sometimes it takes an accident, illness, or an injury for us to awaken to the knowledge of: “this pattern has to change–I am hurting myself by doing this!”
For me it was the event of both my children coming home. My 24-year-old son who lives 3 hours away and I hadn’t seen since Christmas was coming home for 4 days at Easter. And my 20-year-old daughter was coming home from her semester studying abroad in Australia 2 days after Easter. I overdid it! I was drained and exhausted but still so excited by the end of Easter evening–my low back/hip was aching but I ignored it. My son left after a wonderful visit but my daughter would be home in 2 days. I ignored my hip pain and exhaustion and just had to go to the grocery to get her favorite foods, just had to go to the party store to buy welcome home decorations and balloons, just had to clean up her room and get it ready for her, just had to hang up the banners and reach and stretch to hang lots of streamers in the main area of the house. All that stretching and twisting was way too much for my already injured sacroiliac joint! (I had moved boxes out of my son’s room to prepare for his visit). I thought I just needed a chiropractic adjustment and I’d be good as new–but I was continually injuring the ligaments to my sacroiliac joint! I didn’t listen to my body–it was begging me to stop, begging me to rest, “all this isn’t necessary, don’t do it” my intuition whispered to me. But “I have to” was a louder voice. I now realize my childhood fear of “not being good enough as I am” was playing out my trauma from the past into the present.
I did cut back on some things I had planned to do and rested with heat and ice packs for 3 hours before we picked up my daughter at the airport–but it was too late! The damage was done! And as the adrenaline wore off and my daughter settled into our home with “Mom, you shouldn’t have!”, she ended up being so right! I shouldn’t have! And I will never forget this painful lesson of ignoring pain in my body again. (I ended up in the ER with excruciating pain 1 and 1/2 days later–see my last post for more info.)
Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. Besides adrenal fatigue, I have never had anything chronic and this was chronic excruciating pain. I thought I had discovered a healthy alternative to exercise with my specific carbohydrate diet that was and is the perfect solution for my highly sensitive digestive system. Avoiding complex carbohydrates and sugar gave me more energy and kept my weight down. So I fooled myself into believing I didn’t need to exercise. (I tried exercising occasionally with fits and starts but the pain always made me quit–I now see there was emotional pain from my childhood tied into “getting stronger”. I learned that often childhood wounds related to our bodies can have complex origins. Hsps can feel shamed with looks of disgust or disapproval when expressing themselves joyfully through their bodies–dancing, running, and playing can be seen as threats to a N parent who need their hsp children to stay dependent and near and “take care of them forever”. This may be an unconscious act on the part of the N parent–The mixed message of “grow up”/”don’t grow up and leave me” leaves many HSPs to feel guilt about growing strong and competent and enjoying having strong bodies. HSPs can sense this message even though the parent may be completely unaware that they are projecting this onto their child.
Now I am told that if I’d had more core strength and the overall strength and stamina that only exercise can provide I could have avoided this injury. With weak core muscles I put strain on the ligaments related to my sacroilliac (SI) joint and injured the ligaments severely. Sprained ligaments like I have takes 4-6 weeks to heal. And you must be very careful not to reinjure them by doing too much too soon–I read that if you reinjure certain SI areas 4 or more times, you could end up with chronic pain there for the rest of your life!
And this week I did have a setback. 3 weeks in I was doing well and was finally able to pick things up off of the floor and drive etc. but I must have done too much and remember one sudden jolt that retriggered my pain and set my progress back a whole week! Ugh!…back on the couch just when the pain was beginning to lessen. But I learned from it and am now even more careful and even more grateful for the activities I took for granted before.
As bad as it sounds, this traumatic experience has changed my life for the better. I learned:
1. I avoided exercise because of the pain it caused me but that is nothing compared to the pain of being immobile and unable to function normally and perform the simplest of tasks like putting on ones own socks!
2. I must commit to regular exercise as soon as possible after I heal. My plan is to start walking and doing core strengthening daily and then I am going to do Pilates or yoga and join jazzercise again. I loved Jazzercise classes in my 20’s and 30’s–I had stopped in 1999 when it became too fatiguing and painful for me (I didn’t know then that I already had symptoms of adrenal fatigue). The adrenal fatigue is now better so I should be able to get back into it if I am very gradual and process the emotions as they come up.
3. I must get in shape and get core strength for the first time in my life and stay that way! I hope to get up to doing Jazzercise 3 times a week. Also I plan to do lots of hiking and biking with my husband which he loves to do but has always done without me because….well… honestly… I couldn’t keep up. My body has now taken a front seat in my life–I am sorry I didn’t listen to it sooner! Fear of this pain returning is a great motivator–muscle soreness is nothing compared to the intense chronic pain and the pain of being immobile and dependent on others for everything.
4. I am too young for this kind of injury–I am only 49. Now my body has caught up to the “new beginning journey” that my heart and mind were already on! And so for this wake up call I say, Thank you, Universe, for all that it taught me!!!
Wishing all of you love and kindness to your spirit, mind, and BODY!!