Love relationship failure and its profound agony, the despair of love leaving, the brutal stab of love rejection, the anguish of love betrayal , the angst of love in doubt, the sickening emptiness of love never present are but some of the hurts we humans face when dealing with insufficient and malfunctioning love.
Few people are raised with good examples, helpful knowledge and useful guidance concerning dealing with the many types of hurt possible in love relationship situations. The good news is we can learn the skills it takes to cope and even grow from these painful experiences.
What to do when we are deeply lonely for a love that is absent? What to do when we are involved in a love relationship that is becoming more agonizing than enriching? What to do when in spite of our best efforts destructiveness is mounting and constructiveness disappearing? Right this minute around the world there are countless millions facing how to cope with abandonment, feeling unwanted, continuing on when profoundly neglected, being repeatedly demeaned, seriously disregarded, suddenly displaced, and worst of all is not knowing how to get back up and try again after being disastrously love defeated?
Well, I know something of the answer to these questions both from my own personal life love hurts and from working with all the suffering people who have come to me for help with their love hurts. Take heart and be hopeful if you are hurting or have hurt from similar difficulties! You can surmount the pain and, like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, fly again more beautiful, more powerful and far higher than ever before.
The vast majority of the people I deal with who seek assistance with these love relationship agonies do recover, and learn to soar again going on to love victories greater than what they knew before. Sadly, of course, there are some who don’t. They let love relationship related pain bring them down.
Relapses into addiction, profound ongoing depression, long-lasting anxiety, fear-based living and self-destruction of many types are all too often the result of love relationship pain inadequately dealt with. If you are hurting due to problems related to love I dare you to suspect you can recover. If you’re not hurting right now but have before, then dare to suspect that none of that deep hurt has to happen to you again. Dare to believe that “seek and you shall find” is true when it comes to getting over love relationship pain and going on to the victories and joys of a new and different healthy, real love done well.
So, let’s talk of some of what it takes to adequately and successfully deal with the pains that sometimes come along in our love life. I like to suggest that you start with the idea that all hurt has something to offer. You see, hurting has usefulness. Hurt exists for the purpose of guiding us away from harm. It is important not to confuse hurt and harm; they are quite opposite and are actually enemies of one another. Hurts are feelings. Harm is a condition of destructiveness. Hurt causes you to jerk your hand away from the hot stove before your hand is truly harmed.
It is hurt that gets you to go to the surgeon who takes out your appendix before it blows up and kills you. Thus, hurt saves your life. Emotional hurt can get you to study how to do love well so your next love relationship efforts are better. Yes, hurt in essence is your friend trying to guide you away from harm. One of the most dangerous things in the world are those diseases which cause no hurt until it is too late.
Some of the most dangerous relationships are those in which one person, without warning, suddenly explodes with long suppressed, hidden hurt and in doing so suddenly causes another person great harm. Had the hurt been expressed and mutually dealt with they might have worked out a better resolution for all concerned. Hurt warns us something is wrong and tells us do something different. Our job is to work with hurt against harm. This is especially true for hurting, loveless individuals and for those in painful love relationships.
Therefore, a very important thing to do with the pain you experience in a love relationship is to go looking for the ‘guidance message’ in that hurt. These guidance messages that come from pain can vary greatly. Your hurt may be sending you a message that says, “Learn to ask for what you want better”, “Do more loving listening”, “Mix sex and love better”, “Stop taking everything so personally”, “Go to counseling”, “Get a divorce”, “Find somebody better”, “Run away” or a thousand other things.
Then, of course, you have to evaluate the message against all the other factors involved. The trick is to act constructively not destructively. If possible do that for all concerned. Remember that hurt always says do something different. If you don’t do something different expect more hurt. Your love for someone may tell you to endure the hurt and that may be more important than hurt’s message to do something different. However, remember that hurt warns you that harm may be coming your way unless you change something. Hurt becomes harmful when it grows too big for you to be able to get its guidance message.
Often that happens because you have not paid attention previously and sufficiently to hurt’s guidance message. Here’s a simple example: Joe kept falling for cold, distant, difficult women. Once he had such a woman the agonies of dealing with her became intolerable. Each of these relationships hurt more than the one before. Finally he heard his hurt’s guidance message and established a lasting relationship with a warm, close and easy to get along with female, so unlike his mother which is where it all started.
Consequently, a really good thing to do with love hurts is to look for and discover their guidance messages. You can try to reason that all out and sometimes that works quite well. Often better and quicker is to do a ‘gestalt internal dialogue’ or ‘psychosynthesis – two sub-personalities exercise’. It works like this: say “Hello” to your love hurt and ask it “What are you trying to tell me?” Then in fantasy you become your hurt and say, “Hi self, I am your hurt and what I’m trying to tell you is …” followed by the first thing that pops up in your thoughts.
At first this may take some practice but those who practice usually get surprising and surprisingly useful replies from their subconscious. When you practice these techniques more they usually help you go much further and get excellent results. Some people learn from their hurt by journaling or writing out what their hurt is telling them, others draw or use other visual arts, some achieve understanding through music and others through dance therapy techniques.
Love hurt is likely to increase and repeat if you don’t learn its guidance message. Of course, after learning the guidance message you have to heed that message, and do something different and hopefully better.
As always, go and grow with love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly
Can you list what you have learned from some of your past love hurts? Is that learning still with you or will you have to learn it again?