When a baby cries, he cries until his needs are met. If the parent guesses wrong, thinking feeding rather than diaper change, the baby keeps crying. If a child needs a hug and kiss after a fall, it doesn’t really matter if the “wound” is just a scrape. Even if the “wound” is, in reality, non-existent, she needs someone to see, validate, and empathize with her pain.

Getting our needs met in relationship

We deceive ourselves if we believe that as adults we have outgrown this need for connection in the midst of our emotional hurts. Emotional pain is real. Your brain actually lights up around emotional pain in exactly the same way it lights up over physical pain. In fact, our limbic system acts with in the same fight or flight response at the idea of emotional cutoff as for physical danger. There are numerous studies which point to that when we are hurting, either physically or emotionally, our perception of the pain is more intense if we feel alone. We feel alone when our pain is dismissed. Whether this is deliberate when someone is feeling defensive. Or unintentional when someone is trying to make us feel better by reminding us that others have it worse, or telling us the ways it is not so bad.

The antidote to being left alone with our pain has two parts.

The first part is up to me. If I don’t want to be alone, I have to take the risk of telling someone about my pain. Too often in our interactions with our loved ones, we hide our hurts and disappointments. Often we are ashamed and tell ourselves we are overreacting. We hide our vulnerability behind anger or indifference. In order to have our needs met though, we have to risk the vulnerability of talking about our hurt.

The second part is up to the other person in the interaction. Healing comes from being seen. If my partner can see my pain and acknowledge it, then I am no longer alone. When we share our pain, and it is heard, we feel lighter. It’s like if there is this thing in me that I feel is unacceptable, unwanted, and unloved. When I share that thing with my partner, though scary, it teaches me- this thing I thought was unlovable, isn’t unlovable or unacceptable at all. This literally changes my brain chemistry. Where there was once shame there is now acceptance. If my partner can accept it, then maybe I can accept it too.

If you need help with healing in your relationship, give us a call. We can help. Call today: 865-238-5696