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S2 EP214 – Moving Beyond Emotional Suffering

Episode Summary

Are you feeling sad, empty, anxious, stressed, angry, addicted, or depressed? Discover exactly what you are doing to cause your suffering and what you can do about it. 


Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul here with the Inner Bonding Podcast. Today I’m speaking about how we might be causing some of our emotional suffering and what we can do about it.

Certainly, emotional pain can be caused by circumstances, such as the economy, people’s unloving behavior toward you, as well the deeper pain of life of loneliness, grief and heartbreak over loss, and helplessness over others and over so much dysfunction in our society. But even these situations, while deeply emotionally painful, do not necessarily lead to suffering. Some emotional pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. I learned this years ago from reading Viktor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” and more recently, “The Choice” by Dr. Edith Eger. Both Dr. Frankl and Dr. Eger suffered horrible physical pain and abuse in Auschwitz concentration camp and other concentration camps. Yet both made conscious choices that minimized their emotional suffering. 

Dr. Eger was only 17 when taken to the concentration camp, and both her beloved parents were killed in the gas chambers that very day. Yet this young woman, just like Viktor Frankl, was able to keep connected with herself and a Divine source, which enabled her to survive. She was very near death when found by the allies, and she has gone on to be an exceptional psychologist, wife, mother, author, and speaker, and is still thriving at 97! Amazing! These are the kind of role-models we need for learning to take loving care of ourselves.   

My client, Miranda consulted with me because of her unrelenting sadness. No matter how much she succeeded in her life and how much approval she received, the sadness and suffering were always there.

Stuart consulted with me because of the loss of his marriage and his inability to stop drinking, which had resulted in his being disbarred as an attorney.

David consulted with me because he could not seem to fill his inner emptiness. Marriage, children, and a successful business did nothing to fill that emptiness. David was suffering as a result of this emptiness.

Connie consulted with me because her explosive anger was ruining her marriage and her relationships with her children.

All of these people have one thing in common: ongoing self-judgment. None of them truly knows the preciousness of their soul selves. None of them know their intrinsic value, their goodness, their worth. Each of them believes that there is something basically wrong with them. Each of them spends much energy trying to have control over getting approval from others, or at least not getting disapproval.

Like Miranda, Stuart, David, and Connie, we each have a wounded self who often uses self-judgment as a form of control. The wounded self in all of us believes that if we are hard on ourselves, we can get ourselves to perform in the ways that would result in approval from others. Yet the actual result of self-judgment is devastating to the self, causing deep emotional suffering.

Self-judgment is a form of self-abandonment. We reject ourselves when we judge ourselves. We are loving to ourselves when we are kind, accepting, and compassionate toward ourselves and open to learning with our feelings and our guidance. Imagine for a moment that you are treating a small 3-year old child the way you treat yourself, telling this child that he or she is not good enough, is inadequate, worthless, undeserving, unimportant, and so on. This child would naturally feel sad, hurt, frightened, anxious, and alone. The child might respond with anger, compliance, or numbness. Regardless of the response, the child would suffer, feeling abandoned and brokenhearted.

This is how your precious inner child feels each time you judge yourself. Often, instead of then performing the way you believe you “should,” you become immobilized, resistant, angry, or needy. You may find yourself doing anything to get approval and avoid disapproval. Your inner child desperately needs to feel valued, and when you are not valuing him or her, you will find yourself trying to get someone else to give you value. Yet, no matter how much success or approval you get, it is never enough, because a true sense of value and self-worth comes from within. Self-judgment causes suffering.

Miranda will continue to suffer until she stops judging herself and opens to her guidance for the truth of who she is. Her suffering will not go away until she consistently treats herself as the precious child of God that she is. As long as she ignores her feelings and needs and judges her looks and performance, she will feel deeply sad.

Stuart will continue to drink to drown out of the pain that he causes by his self-judgments. His inner child desperately needs his kindness and acceptance, and his wounded self drinks to avoid the suffering caused by this inner abandonment.

David will continue to feel empty until he opens to the love that is always here for him from his higher guidance. He keeps trying to get love from others, but God is love – the source of love. Until David opens to spirit and allows love into his heart, and sees and values his true soul self, he will continue to feel the suffering of emptiness.

Connie will continue to take her anger out on her family until she opens to learning about how angry her inner child is at her for the self-abandonment of self-judgment. She will continue to seek love from her family and be enraged when she doesn’t get it as long as she is not being kind and accepting toward herself. She will continue to suffer until she decides to learn to love herself.

Self-judgment is a deep addiction of the wounded self. It will not go away on its own. By choosing to attend to your feelings – Step One of Inner Bonding – you can become aware of the lies and self-judgments that are causing your suffering. I want to encourage you to practice staying in Step One all day so that you can become aware of the self-judgments that are a primary cause of your suffering.

How often are you in some ways unkind to yourself?

Let’s take a look at why unkindness to yourself and to others causes you and others so much pain and suffering.

  • When you are unkind to yourself though your thoughts, such as telling yourself you are not good enough, how do you feel? Anxious, fearful, hurt, angry? Your unkind self-judgments are causing your suffering.
  • When you are unkind to yourself through your other self-abandoning actions, such as eating badly, not exercising, or ignoring your own feelings and choosing addictions, how do you feel? In the long run you may end up feeling physically ill, scared, alone and so on. Your self-abandoning lack of self-kindness is causing your suffering.
  • When you are unkind to others through your words or deeds, how do you end up feeling? Angry, lonely, empty, alone? Your unloving actions are causing your suffering.

Emotional suffering, and often physical suffering, are the result of unkindness to ourselves and to others. Would we have wars, famine, crime, homelessness, or abuse if we were focused on kindness to ourselves and to others?

The suffering in the world is caused by our wounded selves. The wounded self is never focused on true kindness. Even if we seem to be focused on kindness to others, when we are unkind to ourselves, we end up suffering. The wounded self is focused on control and may even use kindness toward others as a form of control, but control is not kind and will eventually lead to suffering.

This can never change on the level of the wounded self. We cannot move to kindness unless that is our intent, and the intent of the wounded self is always to control ourselves and others. The ego wounded self believes that controlling brings safety. It is devoted to controlling since it came into being when we were young to try to make us feel safe. The ego wounded self does not understand that its current efforts to make us feel safe cause our suffering. 

Consciously shifting your intent can heal much of your suffering. It is only when your intent consciously shifts from controlling to learning about what is most kind to yourself and others that true change can occur. When you choose to focus on the question, “What is most kind to me in this moment?” and then follow through with the kind thought or action – toward yourself and others – you will be on the path of ending much of your suffering. As long as your major focus is unconsciously on the questions, “How can I have control over feeling safe and loved? How can I have control over not being rejected and hurt? How can I have control over not being controlled?” you will be perpetuating your suffering.

Kindness is always a conscious choice. When you don’t consciously choose your intent – your focus in the moment – then you may unconsciously be choosing to control.

Practicing Inner Bonding can end much of your suffering. This is what practicing Inner Bonding is all about. It is about choosing to be conscious of your suffering so that you can consciously choose to take responsibility for it by consciously choosing the intent to learn about how your wounded self is causing much of your suffering. It is about consciously choosing to open to your guidance about what is most kind to yourself in any given moment regarding your thoughts and actions toward yourself and others. It is about consciously choosing to put kindness into action through your thoughts and actions.

If you choose to practice Step One of Inner Bonding – practicing mindfulness of your inner experience, of your feelings, your emotions, your suffering, and consciously choosing to take responsibility for your feelings – then you can consciously choose the other steps of Inner Bonding. Practicing Step One is the first step toward ending much of your suffering.

Allyson and Jonathan were working with me at a 5-Day Intensive. Married for 2 years, they had lost the passion and fun they once had, and they couldn’t understand why.

As I worked with them and experienced their relationship system, I saw that what Jonathan did when he felt lonely around Allyson was to abandon himself by getting hard and judgmental or by shutting down. I saw that what Allyson did when she felt lonely around Jonathan was to abandon herself by disconnecting from herself, leaving her heart, and going up into her head. I saw that Allyson’s disconnection made Jonathan feel lonely, and Jonathan’s judgment and withdrawal crushes Allyson.

These were two open, caring, loving people. They loved each other very much. But because they were each abandoning themselves by protecting against their feelings of loneliness and heartbreak, of feeling shattered and crushed by the other’s protections, they were not only causing themselves suffering, they are behaving unlovingly to each other, causing the existential pain in each other that they were each trying to avoid through their protections.

I pointed this out to them, and I saw the light come on in their eyes.

I asked Allyson to put her hand on her heart, breathing into the pain of feeling crushed by Jonathan’s judgment and withdrawal. I asked her to open to her guidance and ask for the compassion of her guidance to be with her. I asked her to be very tender, gentle, kind, understanding and caring with herself. She did this, and the heaviness lifted. There was a beautiful smile on her face.

I asked Jonathan to do the same thing, embracing the loneliness he feels when Allyson disconnects, closing her heart and going into her head. I asked him to invite in compassion from his spiritual guidance. He did this, and I saw his face softening, his heart opening, his eyes becoming gentle, and then a big smile on his face. Allyson and Jonathan looked at each other in wonder as the love flowed through them and they created a circle of love.

I heard a few gasps from the other participants.

“Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Something big just happened here! Are you saying that if we stay open to the deeper existential pain of life with compassion toward ourselves, we bypass suffering?”

I was overjoyed that people were experiencing the magic of this!

“Yes!” I said. “Everyone is so terrified of the existential pain of life that we’ve all spent most of our life avoiding it. We believe that because we could not handle it as children, we can’t handle it now. And this is so untrue. We can handle it – but only with spirit. We cannot handle it alone. And when we compassionately handle it with spirit, we have no need to judge, withdraw, disconnect, criticize, get angry, resist, or turn to substance or process addictions. We bypass all the things we do that cause much of our suffering.”

“Wow!” “OMG!” “This is the missing piece!” “This is it – this is what I need to learn to do!” they were saying. The energy in the Intensive was incredible as people felt and experienced the truth of this.

This is the heart of healing.

As you learn and practice Inner Bonding, developing your spiritual connection and your loving adult, and becoming aware of all the ways you learned to protect against your own existential pain of life, you become strong enough to embrace it. Then you discover that with the compassion that comes through from spirit, the pain moves through you rather than getting stuck in you.

Some incredibly painful situations, such as the loss of a loved one though death, challenge us to embrace the pain over and over, each time it comes up. Other situations, like the one between Allyson and Jonathan, resolve quickly with no residue. In either case, protecting against the pain causes suffering, while embracing it with compassion brings relief and healing.

We all had to learn many ways of avoiding emotional pain as we were growing up, because we could not have survived the pain of childhood without these protective strategies – which eventually became habitual. The problem is that what once seemingly protected us against pain is now causing much of our suffering.

For example, my client Julia grew up with two very judgmental parents. Julia’s response to her parents’ judgment was to become a very good girl, getting good grades and always trying to please her parents. Since her parents’ judgment worked to get her to do things “right,” Julia learned to judge herself in order to get herself to do things right. However, instead of her self-judgment motivating her, it caused her to feel so inadequate that she would shut down and become paralyzed, unable to take loving action for herself. The more she shut down, the more she judged herself, causing intense resistance and immobilization. Her self-judgments, designed to control herself into perfection, instead were creating an inner resistance and resulting feelings of inadequacy. By trying to avoid the emotional pain of others’ rejection with her self-judgments, Julia was causing herself the suffering of inner abandonment.

In her attempts to avoid the painful feelings of life – the loneliness, heartbreak, grief, and helplessness over others – Julia was actually causing herself the painful wounded feelings of emptiness, aloneness, anxiety, and depression. She felt these wounded feelings much of the time due to the self-abandonment that resulted from her self-judgments. In her efforts to avoid all this suffering, she would then turn to food and alcohol. However, being overweight was also painful to her.

Obviously, the strategy for protection against the pain of rejection that she learned when she was young – self-judgment – was causing her to constantly experience anxiety, depression, emptiness, aloneness, procrastination, and feelings of inadequacy. By trying to avoid pain, she was creating pain.

Mario grew up with a father who was rarely around, and who drank and ran around with other women. When his father was around, he was highly critical of Mario. Mario’s mother was a sweet, caring, and compliant woman who loved Mario and never complained about his father. Mario learned to be sweet and compliant with others, but he treated himself just like his father treated him. To protect himself from the pain of rejection, he was compliant with others and judgmental of himself. In addition, he had learned to ignore his own feelings, just as his father had ignored him. He felt safer when he focused on others’ feelings, trying to take care of them rather than caring about himself. As a result, Mario felt unimportant, anxious, alone, and inadequate. No matter how much he gave to others and others gave to him, Mario felt insecure due to his own self-judgments, self-ignoring, and self-rejection. His insecurity resulted in a constant fear that his girlfriend was going to leave him for someone “better.” Mario was suffering as a result of his self-abandonment.

Just as with Julia, Mario’s attempts to avoid the pain of rejection with his caretaking, self-judgments and ignoring his own feelings resulted in more suffering.

Many of the people who seek my help do so because they are struggling with sadness, anxiety, depression, aloneness, emptiness, addictions, insecurity, and resistance. Underneath all this wounded pain is their intent to protect against the pain of life that might result from rejection, loss, and other losses. But in their efforts to avoid the pain of life, they are rejecting themselves with their self-judgments and addictions. Rather than being mindful of and attending to their own feelings, which is Step One of Inner Bonding, they are abandoning themselves by ignoring their feelings with their self-judgments and addictions to substances and processes.

As long as they continue to protect again the deeper pain of life that may result from rejection and other losses, they will be stuck with their suffering.

When you are willing to become mindful of your feelings and take responsibility for them, you will begin to move out of the suffering that you are creating. Remember, you always have two choices in every given moment – to try to have control over getting love and avoiding pain, or to be open to learning about loving yourself and others. If you are tired of the pain you are in and want joy instead, try practicing Inner Bonding throughout the day. Start with being mindful of your feelings and being compassionate rather than judgmental toward yourself.

Growing up, all of us had some pain from the loneliness, grief, helplessness, and heartbreak of rejection, loss, and engulfment. As little ones, we couldn’t manage these huge painful feelings, so we found ways to avoid feeling them, which resulted in storing them in our body.

As adults, these painful feelings get triggered when others are rejecting or controlling, or by other painful events and circumstances. If we continue to avoid feeling our painful feelings, they may eventually result in illness, failed relationships, and even more loneliness and heartbreak.

Embarking on an Inner Bonding healing journey means that you have become willing to feel these feelings as they come up, rather than continue to avoid them. But just feeling them is not enough to release them from your body. You also need to be willing to learn about any information your feelings have for you, and you need to be willing to learn new ways of managing these painful feelings so that you don’t keep storing them in your body.

All stored feelings create blockages that cut off the free flow of love, aliveness, joy, peace, and passion. The cost of avoiding feelings, and not learning to manage them through a spiritual connection, is the numbness and emptiness that many people live with, as well as the anxiety and depression that often result from protections against pain.

This is why it is vital to open to the pain when it is triggered – to learn from it and consciously release it out of your body. The more you do this, the more the love, joy and peace that is spirit fills your heart and soul.

Inner Bonding is an ideal process for releasing old pain and for managing current pain. The daily practice of embracing and learning from your feelings, opening to your guidance for the truth and the loving actions, and taking the loving actions, is what develops the power of the loving adult. The more you practice Inner Bonding with the wounded painful feelings, the easier it becomes to manage the really big painful feelings from painful life events. Each time the pain of life gets triggered, this is an opportunity to move toward it rather than away from it – to embrace it with a compassionate intent to learn, and then to be willing to release it to spirit.

When your intent is to learn to be loving to yourself, you embrace the pain of life, learn from it, and then ask spirit to take it from you and replace it with peace and acceptance. When you are willing to let it go, it will go – at least for the time being. And each time it comes up, you can be there for it with caring and compassion, and eventually release it out of your body.

Being willing to release pain is the opposite of being a victim. When you are being a victim, you are coming from the belief that something external has to change for you to feel better – a person or situation has to change and then you will move out of the pain and suffering that they or the situation is causing. When this is your belief, you then go about trying to control others and outcomes as your way of getting out of pain. Since you are helpless over others and outcomes, all this does is create more pain – the pain of helplessness and frustration over being stuck in pain.

When you become willing to take responsibility for nurturing your pain and learning from it – learning the truth about the past, the truth about a current situation or person, and the truth about your own thoughts and actions that may be creating your suffering – then you can move into acceptance of how things are. It is this acceptance that enables you to then release the pain.

The joy, health, and freedom you seek are the result of having the courage to feel, learn from, and release your pain, which opens your heart, soul and mind to the love, truth, and joy of spirit.

I invite you join me for my bi-monthly masterclass and receive my live help, which you can learn about at

I invite you to join me for my 30-Day at-home Course: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.”

And you can learn so much about loving yourself and creating loving relationships from my new book, “Lonely No More: The Astonishing Power of Inner Bonding” and from our website at

I’m sending you my love and my blessings.

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