Pain and suffering are gifts nobody wants. I’ve come to understand and embrace the fact that life is bitter and sweet. If we never experience pain or loss, we never really experience joy. If we never learn how to cope with difficult times, we become hard, cold, afraid, self-centered, defeated, hopeless, overwhelmed and insensitive to the pain of others around us.
We all experience seasons of pain,suffering, delays, loss, discouragement and change. You may be overwhelmed with your own issues of poor health, financial stress, divorce, unemployment or worry. Or you may be overwhelmed because you are a caregiver for a loved one living with autism, addictions, mental illness, cancer or in prison. It’s enough to steal your joy and sap you of your patience, time, energy, faith and finances. Only those who have a mustard seed of faith, a remnant of hope and strong in their resolve to press on, will survive tough times. Conquering your giants requires you to live with the realities in your life and then empower yourself to take action. In your exhaustion and suffering, I pray you find a fresh reason to hope and hold on to your faith. Recognize the need for healing and strength to endure. For us to receive the healing of emotional wounds, we must first acknowledge that we are hurting (Matthew 9:10-13, Revelation 3:17). Many of us have lied to ourselves as well as to others. We have said, “I’m really O.K.” or “It really doesn’t matter that much.” Or “I am ashamed and don’t want people to know.” Denial can become a habit, your unconscious defense mechanism. Denial wants to reduce anxiety, pain, thoughts, feelings, or facts that are consciously too difficult to face.
Sometimes life is not turning right, it makes a left turn. Sometimes your life doesn’t feel just fine (like Mary J’s song says) and you want growth, stability, progress, love, abundance, joy, health and peace. Awareness and acceptance are the first place to start if you want to be delivered from pain into peace.
What issues in your life are you trying to avoid? i.e. weight/health, debt, loss, anger, abuse, poor choices in your relationships, family secrets, the pain from your past, bad habits that have become addictions, disorder and clutter in your life, employment, your age or fear of being alone? Assess your stress! You may be asking, “Why do I keep repeating the same mistakes? How do I break this cycle of depression, worry or self-destructive addictions?” Why do I try so hard to get people to love me and understand me? How do I find some peace in my life instead of always falling to pieces? Why am I always comparing my life to others?
If you don’t honestly look at your pattern of behavior and beliefs, your mind traps will become stronger. You may realize in this season of your life that you are caught up in an emotional and mental trap. You may realize that the source of your unhappiness and stress is your inability to free yourself from the traps.
As you begin to fully acknowledge that you are often ruled by a protective emotional mask and caught up in a trap to cope with life, your transformational process can happen. Do you genuinely want to make your emotional health a priority? You can learn how to break the toxic cycle of poor emotional health which is destroying families, children, marriages, careers and even communities.
As you decide and commit to assessing, admitting, and reducing your emotional wounds, you will experience “aha” moments, breakthroughs, and new insights to free yourself from self-defeating mind traps. You will feel more clear, focused, alert, motivated, decisive, calm and centered.
The joy of sharing this information cannot be measured. I discovered so much about the mind and emotional traps through study, self-discovery, counseling, prayer and the courage to find my voice. I began to discover some common mental and emotional traps.
Rescuer Trap– Because of a parent’s weakness, absence orpush for excellence, a child can grow up fast and become the “little adult” and feels responsible for other family members’ welfare and comfort, and “keeping the family together. This trap makes one feel they must protect their caregivers and siblings because no one else will. This hinders the child from experiencing normal childhood development.
The need to help others even at the expense and risk of your own well-being is the mind trap. You can never say, “no” to someone’s requests. You receive emotional satisfaction playing the hero and the fixer role. The trap of a caretaker is feeling responsible for compensating for their personality-disordered loved-one’s behaviors, cleaning up any messes created by their actions and fixing any problems arising from their mental or emotional issues. Soon resentment, exhaustion, financial stress, poor health and isolation happen because of burnout.
Martyr Trap– The Martyr refuses to indulge or enjoy even thesimple pleasures of life. As a result they are always victimizing and punishing themselves. The martyr type’s giving is often totally selfish, it’s not heart orientated giving, because the martyr is simply trying to get your attention by victimizing themselves – it’s an attention seeking strategy, selfish and dangerous. Martyrs are people who recognize they are being taken advantage of and choose to remain in the situation. Martyrs often seek sympathy for their plight. They seek support, advice and help from others.
The trap is believing you are stuck in a situation and seem to be unable to resolve it. Martyrs often believe it is their obligation to remain in their position in life. They would feel guilty if they let go of the current situation. They fear taking the risk to change the situation.
Martyrs are “professional” help seekers. They make the rounds of paid and volunteer helpers, advice givers, counselors/consultants–anyone willing to listen to their tale of woe. Unfortunately, they usually ignore the assistance, advice or direction they are given.
Victim trap – People who are taken advantage of but areunaware of being treated as such. Victims are individuals whose rights are ignored and abused but were unaware that they would be treated in this manner before they entered the situation. Victims often suffer silently for long periods of time before they are able to verbalize the unfairness of their life situations. Victims frequently never seek help. They are often frustrated and lost as to what needs to be done to get them out of their current situation.
Procrastinator Trap–This person is caught in a cycle ofavoidance. Their mind trap convinces them they more time or that they should wait until everything is perfect before starting. Or the mind trap will collaborate with your inner critic to convince you that you should wait until you are perfect before starting something new. This mind trap causes you to postpone unpleasant responsibilities and situations. This emotional trap is costly because you lose time and opportunities, your health deteriorates, your money, credit, integrity and peace of mind suffer. The procrastination habit is a thief!