Have you been wounded in your life?
We all have. Somewhere along the line disappointment, small and large, has entered our lives. Some of that wounding is like a sword thrust. Other times it’s more like a gradual awakening.
I’ve worked with many families where they’ve separated because of some incident or unkind word or deed that occurred long ago. I’ve also worked with many families where the outward appearance is jovial but the inward life is a mess.
But how you handle pain in the context of family legacy is critical. Sometimes that pain may be as simple as a harsh word. It may be a misunderstanding. It may be out and out conflict. It may be neglect.
In my own experience with families, I see that we typically handle pain in one of three ways. We can medicate it, deny it, or embrace it.
Medicating pain takes all kinds of forms—pills, drinks, counseling, adventure seeking. In any event, the medicating is a way of avoiding the real source of the pain. Denial is perhaps the worst form of coping. We go on. We sweep it under the rug. We tiptoe around it. We act that life is good while the elephant in the room is clomping around. Neither works.
Embracing the pain takes courage. It means addressing the root and source of the pain. It takes communication. It takes a willingness to receive correction, and ultimately forgiveness. In many cases, it may take a third party to help work out the issues, but it is worth the effort.
Those families who do the hard work of addressing their wounds stand a far greater likelihood for success in the future.