Conquer Pain and Hurt With This Journaling Technique

Imagine an entire society of assholes living in a private, gated community in the depths of your brain.  Little tiny houses or apartment buildings, and all of them are working together to make you miserable. 

That's a scary thought, isn't it? 

They're having potlucks, laughing together, binge-watching Netflix, never mowing their lawns, letting their dogs shit all over without cleaning it up, and probably never taking showers (because duh, they're nasty!). 

And you're footing the bill for all of it (literally and figuratively). 

People can't continue to hurt us if we don't let them.  So, instead, why not take them to court and start the eviction process?

Think of this as court for your brain, and you're the landlord bringing the scummy tenants up for eviction.  You're going to plead your case to the judge (who is your journal) and you're not going to hold back one bit.  So pick one of those assholes you're still angry at from your past that has hurt you that you need closure from (especially those who will never give you closure).  And we're going bring them to court!

Now, you can write this in your journal, on a piece of paper, or on a private blog (an online journal).  No matter how you write it, just know that you won't be sending it for the actual defendant.  If you write it on a piece of paper (or several), you can even burn it or destroy it in the end, if you like.  The important thing is get out how you feel and explore as much as you can about your pain. 

But, and here's the kicker, you also need to explore how they felt. 

You get to be both the prosecuting attorney AND the defense attorney. 

But this is not about giving them an excuse for their behavior.  This is about you.  When you put yourself in their shoes (because most likely you know them well enough to do this, as nobody can hurt you emotionally without you feeling close to them in some way), it helps you access your own pain in a totally different way.  It helps you to understand your own motivations throughout life, as well as theirs.  And when you can understand motivations, you can release the pain that's been keeping you prisoner for so long. 

Releasing pain can be another word for forgiveness, but to me, it's kind of different (because you don't need to forgive in order to release pain).  Forgiving to most people says "What you did to me was okay".  That's a common misconception, but an understandable one.  Forgiveness is about you and only you.  It releases you from the pain, but it never says that the pain was okay to be caused in the first place.  Forgiveness is about loving empathy, where as pain release is about understanding the cause of said actions without any empathy or love.

I have someone from my own past that I will never forgive for what she did, but I have definitely let go of the pain she has caused me.  I don't feel empathy for her, I feel nothing except understanding her motivations (whereas I used to feel confused, angry, and sad).  But, on the flip side, I've have forgiven my father from the abuse he inflicted on me.  I will never say what he did is okay, but I have loving empathy for him and understand his motivations and his diseases that caused him to do it in the first place.  My father is worth forgiving.  My old friend is not. 

So rather than working on forgiveness for these people that hurt us, let's just work on releasing the pain they've caused us instead.  Forgiveness may come later, or it may not.  It doesn't matter.  What does matter is being able to recall their actions without an emotional response.  That's when you know you've healed from their abusive behavior.

First, you're going to write their name at the top of the page and the date.  Then you're going to write how you've been feeling since the moment of their negative behavior.  You need to describe exactly how these issues have made you feel all this time.  You can swear, yell, blame, write in all caps, or do whatever you need to in order to allow all that pain to be poured into your letter.  Turn on some angry music while you write (I use Eminem or In This Moment for this, you use whatever speaks to you).  Get pissed.  Get angry.  And let it all flow onto your paper and don't stop until you feel it's all there.

This kind of court requires emotion, not only facts.  So throw all that pain into your writing.

When you've let it all out, check in with your body.  Do you feel any residual discomfort anywhere?  Write about it.  See what comes out.  Keep going until you feel all that anger leave your body and put itself on the page. 

Then turn off your music, reread what you've written, and sit with it.  Cry if you want to.  Draw your pain if that helps.  And keep checking in with your body to see if there's any discomfort trapped anywhere.

Now either change the music to something quieter or leave it off completely and explore their side of the story.  Granted, their side might be full of shit, but it's still worth exploring.  I want you to dig deep into their story.  Did they come from a broken home?  An abusive one?  Where could they have learned their behavior?  What could have caused it?  Some people have a pattern of hurting us, so explore what could cause them to repeatedly hurt someone they supposedly cared about.  See what similarities their experiences in life have with your own.  Remember, you don't have to find excuses, just causes.  Because they always have a choice in hurting others.  They chose to hurt you.  And there's no excuse for that. 

Keep writing about whatever you can think of on their side of things.  You can even write a Q&A on both parts (yours and theirs).  You ask them questions, and then you answer as them.  But the trick with this part is to keep it honest, and not just from a place of your own pain. 

When you can clearly understand someone's motivations (even if they are crap), then you have no reason to hold on to it anymore.  Confusion is the glue that holds pain in.  When you are confused as to why someone hurt you, you internalize it as if it were your own fault that they did that they did.  That somehow we deserved their actions because we are inherently bad in some way, shape or form.  When we think something is our own fault, we get angry, sad, and hurt.  When we realize that we have nothing to do with why others treat us the way they do (for more on this, read Don Miguel Ruiz's book The Four Agreements or his other book The Voice of Knowledge), then we have no reason to be hurt anymore.  We always assume we are hurting because of someone else's actions.  But in reality, the only reason we hurt at all is because we internalize those actions and feel bad about ourselves.  We may not even realize this is going on, but that's why this part of the letter writing process is SO important.  Without it, we may never heal.

With this technique, I took 20 years of anger and confusion I had for a very close friend of many years who did terrible things to me behind my back without me knowing, and released every bit of the pain she left behind inside of me.  I don't forgive her, but I am not confused anymore, and in turn, that allowed me to let it go (insert Disney song here).  It was probably the most hurtful thing anyone has ever done to me (more than once, she was a repeat offender) other than being abused by my family growing up.  And now I am free of her.  I slapped that eviction notice on that apartment she had been renting in my brain and had her removed from the premises.  Those that hurt us do not deserve free rent in our psyches.  So, let's get them the fuck outta there!  Evict them all (think of them like Pokémon!).

You may be wondering why someone is worth forgiving and another is not.  For me, my father was worth forgiving, because I knew deep in his heart he was sorry for what he had become and the actions he had taken because of that.  He was an abusive alcoholic with years of being abused as a child.  His mother was a raging narcissist and she let others hurt him as a result.  Whereas my old friend is a raging narcissist, and when I realized that, I had no reason to be confused by her actions anymore.  Those with NPD hurt others because that's what they do.  Addiction is curable, NPD is not.  So I have no need to forgive her.  Forgiveness, for me, says "If you could have chosen better, you would have".  Those with NPD are incapable of choosing better and will always choose to hurt people, just because they can (and because they like it).  They are malicious and every single thing they do is a manipulation.  Nothing is real when you are with a narc.  Whereas I never once questioned my father's love for me.  I can have loving empathy for those who are sorry (he always said that and meant it) and those who are capable of change.  I can't have it for those who are incapable of taking responsibility for their own actions and will never change. 

But I don't have to live with either of their abuse and the pain they've caused me.  Neither one gets to live rent free on my dime, holed up in some cave in the deep recesses of my mind.  Hell no.  That's my space, not theirs.  I get say-so on who lives there.

So out they go. 

And this process (which is like going to court for landlords--you are the landlord and the judge is your journal, but you have to be willing to plead both sides for it to work) will help you kick out those assholes who are squatting in your own brain.  You may have to do it more than once, because pain can be stubborn.  But, every single time you do it, you will know you are one step closer to eviction. 

Just think what it would be like to be free from the emotional baggage others have left in your life.  Wouldn't that be grand? 

*deep breath*  *let it out slowly*  Yes.  It's possible.  So, what are we waiting for?  Let's get to journaling and get to evicting these jerks!

If you tried this, let me know how this process worked for you!  I am always excited to hear about anyone's journey to healing :)


This exercise is part of The Soul Excavation Program, which you can find here. 

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