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Trusting & Opening Your Heart After Emotional Abuse

After emotional abuse, we may build a protective layer around our heart, to prevent the same hurt from ever happening again. This is only a temporary solution.

  1. Peace
    After emotional abuse, we may build a protective layer around our heart, to prevent the same hurt from ever happening again. While this is a noble effort, it's only a temporary solution. The truth is, we need our hearts for love and compassion. A mind without a heart tends to slip into depression, irritability, anxiety, and paranoia. And thus the question becomes: how do we open our hearts despite the pain we experienced?

    The mind places such a heavy focus on behavior. It judges, analyzes, and worries. The mind convinces us that these things are necessary for our safety, perpetuating the cycle and strengthening its grip over the heart. For so many of us, these qualities saved us, giving us the ability to identify toxic behavior and regain our sanity. So how in the world are we supposed to let go of them? Especially when love and forgiveness seemed to get us into this mess.

    It begins with touching the pain underneath the protective layer. Years after the abuse has ended, your hurt no longer has anything to do with behavior. It has to do with a deep, underlying belief caused by that behavior. And so, healing the pain comes from touching the belief, not focusing on behaviors. Psychopaths tend to provide a consistent message of pain to their victims: you are worthless, unloveable, replaceable, and inherently bad. You will never be good enough.

    You can identify and analyze those things with your mind, but what does it really feel like? That's a lot harder to get in touch with, and it's what the protective layer tries so desperately to prevent you from ever feeling again. But it also keeps it trapped in there.

    When we begin to experiment with feeling that pain, it's incredibly difficult at first. Many of us might only feel numbness, or "this is dumb", or a lot of rage. All of those things are totally fine and normal. The mind will work hard to sabotage this effort and keep you safe. But the longer you spend with it, the more you will begin to have moments of actually feeling those beliefs. These moments are fleeting at first, but when they happen, they're overwhelming and powerful. When you feel this raw vulnerability, you will feel completely open and exposed. Vulnerable. Powerless.

    And when that happens, you will find that your mind does something new: it rushes to offer comfort, love, and sorrow.

    The more you have these moments, the easier they will come. The mind will transform from a tight protective grip around your heart, into a loving presence full of compassion and care. This is our natural human reaction when we see suffering, and it is only through feeling our own suffering that we finally begin to offer true, unconditional love to ourselves.

    When we focus on behaviors (in ourselves and others), we get mad at ourselves for being triggered, for getting angry, for acting crazy during/after the relationship, for feeling jealous, for being needy, for not being "healed" enough, for not seeing the warning signs—the list goes on. Our protective layer hardens. It's a never-ending cycle, because getting mad at ourselves (and others) only perpetuates those feelings.

    When we focus on the vulnerable person beneath all of that, we soften. Because here is the real truth behind all of the layers and behavior and blame: You are a human being deserving of love.

    The more time we spend with our hurt, the more our protective grip transforms into a loving presence. We love all of ourselves, not just the things that seem good or happy or worthy. We love the protective layer that shot up to keep us safe when we needed it. We nurse our heart back to health, instilling it with new beliefs.

    So here is the cool thing: in the process of working with our pain, we actually already developed this loving presence that makes it safe to open our hearts again. This loving presence wants you to be happy. It discovers and values your needs. It wants those needs to be met. Instead of focusing on behaviors, you can simply ask "are my needs being met?". And you will listen for the real answer from your heart, not the one the mind once invented for it.

    The fact is, you will be hurt again. You will experience heartbreak and loss. But you will never again absorb the belief of "bad self", because in this recovery journey, you have found true love for your own heart. And when we have that, it is always safe to love open and freely.

    With the protective grip, our worlds are small, sensitive, rigid, and fearful. With the loving presence, the world becomes light, funny, and beautiful again.

    If you resonate with this healing approach, please check out this book:

    I've written a new book about long-term healing. Whole Again is now published! If you would like to be notified about future books, you can enter your email address below. This is not a mailing list. Just a one-time notification:

Article Author: Peace