Here's another interesting healing idea from a book (The Places That Scare You, by Pema Chodron).
Context: She's talking about how to deal with painful emotions without letting the healing degenerate into whining or repetitive thought:
"When emotional distress arises uninvited, we let the story line go and abide with the energy."
She's specifically talking about meditation, but I think this is relevant for all our issues. For example, when I have anxiety, I should just say to myself, I'm experiencing anxiety, then take a breath and notice the feeling and its colors and intensities as opposed to retelling some story, like" I'm dealing with conflict and I can't handle it."
She goes on to say, "In vajrayana Buddhism it is said that wisdom is inherent in emotions When we struggle against our energy (by repeating the stories that lie behind the emotion or by rejecting the feeling) we reject the source of wisdom. Anger without the fixation is none other than clear-seeing wisdom. Pride without the fixation is experienced as equanimity. The energy of passion when it's free of grasping is wisdom that sees all the angles."
When I've worked with this, I've seen that underlying a lot of my abuse emotion is a stream of fear. When I don't tell myself the story that lies behind that fear, what I feel is adrenaline. I can remember an anxiety attack I had where I really leaned into the anxiety and said, "Bring it on! I can take whatever you have to give!" It turned into one of the most amazing nights I've ever had. I felt like I was surfing these huge waves. It was crazy. What had been one of the worst nights of my life became one of the best. When it was over, the anxiety was exhausted and i slept for hours.
We get so caught up in the narrative. And every time we tell it to ourselves again we recreate it in ourselves. That's a kind of self abuse.
Instead we need to stay in the present moment, knowing that the abuse is in the past, and that what we are feeling is emotion we can turn and work with. The emotion doesn't control us. To learn to be its boss we need to control what we do with it and how we talk about it to ourselves while it's going on.
Let's say there's a moment of hatred for the abuser or regret at lost childhood. Here our revisiting of the abuse story has triggered a wash of brain chemistry. If we stop the story and just feel the hatred as hatred, like tasting a new food and identifying it, it will turn into a general sense (which is a safer thing), and start to move. Maybe it will change to anger or to fear or to adrenaline. When that happens we can work with it, running the mind through other experiences where that chemistry was present, and feeling it really intensely. The fear can become like something experienced in a movie or through a book. In this way we can start to break down the triggering mechanism in the mind. Letting the story turn into a story whose results are under our control. And from which we can learn a huge amount about ourselves.
Another way of thinking about this is to realize that emotions are sides of an experience. Hatred is the other side of love, fear the other side of attraction. When we start to experience our emotions for themselves as opposed to for their stories, we can start to look at their edges and see what they can morph into. One way of understanding this is to remember the last time you were in a bad mood and friend turned it for you by saying the right thing (making you smile or laugh). Have you ever had the feeling of wanting to hold onto the bad feeling, but your friend's words just take it away? This is a great example of the way the feelings morph under analysis. In this case it is the friend who is finding the edge of the bad feeling where it connects to amusement.
One of my good characteristics is that depression bores me so bad that I don't tend to stay in it long. I start to see the silly side of my whining or despair, and then it starts to move.
The day before yesterday was really bad for me, very dark. But now that darkness has shifted back to light. It's all part of a spectrum. Many of us stay on the dark side of the spectrum not realizing the light is available to them if they can shift away from the stories they're telling themselves long enough to let the emotions move.
I hope this is helpful. It sure is for me.