“Why can’t I forgive those who have hurt me? Why can’t I let this go?
When we suffer an intensely painful feeling, the body releases hormones into the blood as part of the fight or flight response. These hormones turn our experience of the intensely painful emotional event into strong memories. These memories are strong to ensure we do not forget such an episode and promote our survival.
This makes sense for our hunter gatherer ancestors who had to remember the constant threats to their survival. However in our modern world, threats to our physical safety are rare, but threats to our emotional safety are everywhere.
However when we feel the same emotion in the present, it triggers our emotional memories for the past experiences when that feeling occurred. The problem is that we have lost sight of the original anger-provoking event that stimulated the release of these hormones in the first place. In counseling, our task is to bring awareness, language and perspective to the situation while learning the skills to respond.