What happens when you get your hand too close to a flame? Instantly, you draw your hand back. It’s immediate. It’s reactive. You get as far away from the source of the pain as you can. This reaction to physical pain is natural. And it also can be our reaction to emotional pain.
When emotionally wounded, we tend to draw back into ourselves. We become suspicious of other people. We even become suspicious of our own motives and decisions. And so, we withdraw from people.
As a result, left alone in our pain, we are cut off from the healing touch that comes from our relationships.
In the first book of the Bible, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2″18). He was speaking in the context of the marriage relationship, but our need for connection is there, outside of marriage as well. We need extended family and good friends. Our connection to other people builds a closely knit community, and within the context of community, we are able to provide for the needs of others and to receive help for our own needs.
Why is it that just when we need people the most, we tend to withdraw ourselves? I believe there are several reasons, which either individually or in combination reinforce our belief that it’s better for us to be alone with our pain:
- We think others won’t understand what we’re going through
- We’re distrustful of others because of what we’ve suffered
- We’re unwilling to forgive those who have added to our pain
- We’re so depleted that we think we have nothing to give to another person
- We don’t believe we deserve to be loved again
In each of the beliefs above, there is an element of truth. Yet it is only partial truth. Let’s look at each of these beliefs, expanding our understanding so we can see them from a broader perspective. Ultimately, the truth is that we need others. If we are not able to embrace that truth, we sentence ourselves to the torment of solitary confinement. Invariably, we hurt ourselves even more.
SOURCE: Chapter 7: “Connections,” God Can Help You Heal by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD., founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources Inc.
Review Blog Schedule (every weekday devoted to excerpts from a different book by Dr. Jantz)