• Christy McCaffrey

Healing Past Pain and Breaking Negative Habit Loops

"And the day came when the risk it took took to remain tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom. This is the element of freedom."

Personal freedom is something we are all striving to achieve whether we realize it or not. Although deep down we may know this, we often steer away from the challenges and obstacles that have the power to bring us a great sense of personal freedom. We avoid the work because it is just that, it’s work, it's hard. Looking at yourself honestly, and recognizing the parts of you that need healing and care, or the parts of you that could use some work - is not an easy task.

The truth is that no matter who you are, no matter what has happened in your life, you harbor pain from the past. Whether it be pain from your childhood, your adolescence or your adult experience – that pain exists because it’s a natural part of life. But just because it’s a part of our life experience doesn’t mean that is has to stay there, stuck and unhealed. In fact, our souls are longing and begging for us to do the work to heal the past so we can move forward with a lighter perspective that will allow us to have a more free and beautiful life experience. If we don’t address the pain and work to heal it, it can and will wreak havoc on our joy, our inner peace and ultimately our happiness.

If you are human, you also have plenty of room for personal improvement. We don’t like to admit this but it is a fact. We all have our own tendencies, quirks and habits that are playing on a constant loop in the background of our lives. We acquired them along the way either from family members or societal cues, and we’ve held tight to them because in many ways they make us feel safe and "normal". But what we don’t often realize is how detrimental it can be to operate on autopilot and just let these quirks and habits have free reign in our lives. These habits have a great amount of influence on how our life unfolds, and if unchecked can actually do a lot of damage.

Many of us choose to stay tight in that bud, unwilling to look at ourselves honestly - our pain, our habits, our opportunities for growth - because we are afraid of what will happen if we face what is difficult to face. Fear plays an enormous role in the desire to remain closed tight. We convince ourselves that it is safer to just do what we have always done, that it is safer to keep ourselves small and stuck because it will shield us from the potential pain of being judged and possibly rejected if we choose to change, evolve and grow.

I can tell you from personal experience that it is not easy to choose to do this work, to face what is painful and undo layers (and years) of habits…but the freedom I have attained in doing so is priceless. I have found a deep confidence and knowing that I have earned the right to be myself, I have chosen to bloom and in doing so I have gifted myself the ability to persevere through any obstacle, judgement or failure. Once I was willing to acknowledge my past pain I was able to heal years of pent up sadness, anxiety and fear. And once I was willing to take an honest look at myself I could see that there are many habits, quirks and tendencies that do not serve my highest good at all. I had to be brave enough to admit that to myself and then do the work to change, but it was such a relief to finally off load that stuck energy. This is ongoing work, there are always new things popping up that remind me there is still work to be done, but the incredible beauty in this is that each time I face a new inner obstacle I feel a great weight being taken off my heart and I have more confidence and clarity to take in stride as I move forward.

So the question is, are you willing and ready to bloom or would you prefer to remain tight and closed in the bud? Are you intrigued by what might be waiting for you when you bloom? The element of freedom is something incredibly personal to each and every person who seeks it, and therefore it is also a very personal decision whether or not you want to face your pain head on and brave the process of healing.

This process will look different for each and every person and I would highly recommend seeking professional help if the idea of this work seems overwhelming or scary. There are many great professionals who are skilled and ready to assist you to heal your pain.

Below are some healthy suggestions for how to begin processing stuck emotion or pain, as well as some journal prompts for how to take an honest look at the habits you have acquired.

Processing Stuck Emotion/Pain

- Journal about your childhood. Write first about your best memories, the moments that stick out as being joyful, happy and peaceful. Then write about the moments when you felt fear, judgement, anxiety, loneliness, etc.

- Journal about your adolescent years. Follow the same prompts as above – writing first about the positive and second about the negatives.

- Journal about your adult life from your 20s until now. Follow the same prompts as above – writing first about the positive and second about the negatives.

- Lastly, journal about your greatest takeaways from this entire exercise. What areas can you see clearly trigger you and cause pain? Which memories are the most difficult for you to look closely at? These may be topics you want to continue to journal about for the days/weeks ahead. Writing down everything you feel about them and allowing yourself to process the emotion (without any judgement!).

After processing difficult emotions it can be very therapeutic to seek out a healing practice such as meditation, yoga/exercise, listening to music, going for a walk, etc.

Journal Prompts For Breaking Habit Loops

1. What are my biggest pet peeves in other people’s habits or quirks?

2. Who in my life triggers me the most with their habits and quirks?

3. What type of habits or quirks might I have that possibly bother others?

4. Who in my life do I align the most with in my opinions and decisions?

5. Have I possibly picked up traits, habits, or opinions of others that maybe don’t serve me well?

6. If I had to choose one negative habit to change what would it be and why?

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