Releasing emotional pain about the past to find peace

March 10, 2024

Several years ago, I wrote about the emotional pain of “victim mentality” when faced with a health or other life challenge, because of how dramatically things may have changed for many of us. I felt like a victim of dystonia and pain for years, and I want to share some ideas for getting out of that mindset. Mindset is a muscle, so it is important that we exercise it regularly.

A big reason for the current emotional pain for many of us is being stuck in the past; how life was before dystonia, or other health condition or life challenge. We need to find a way to release the past. It is not who we are anymore, no matter how hard we try. We may not be the same person as before or have the life we planned, but we must find a way to be okay with this, IF we want to be happy. For more on this, please see my other blog called, Learning to be okay with what we view as not okay.

I know this next comment will be tough for a lot of people, but we need to be open to the possibility that life can be even better than before. There is something called Post Traumatic Growth which is a very real and powerful thing. You can click here to read an article on this topic. Personally, dystonia and pain have strengthened my perseverance, patience, compassion, courage, strength, humility, a never give up attitude, and the belief that with every obstacle comes an opportunity for something to learn and better myself and strengthen my resolve. Not to say that I am glad to have gotten dystonia, because it is so damn hard to live with, but it has also taught me things I never would have learned otherwise, so the only healthy thing for me to do is to live in gratitude. I tried the other route for a long time, and it drove me mad.

By no means is letting go of the past or our former selves easy. I completely understand that it is a process that unfolds at our own pace. It is something I have to work on every day. The more I work on it, the better I am able to release the past and embrace who I am right now. I can’t begin to tell you how liberating it is and how much better it makes me feel when I am able to do this. Life moves way too quickly to spend time on what used to be and not focus more of that energy on creating a new version of ourselves.

I would like to say that I freely do whatever I want whenever I want, but that is not always the case. There are days when things are far too uncomfortable because of the pain and other symptoms of dystonia. Therefore, I do my best to live my life within the boundaries of my abilities and work hard to accept that I can’t always do everything I want, or some of the things I used to. If I don’t allow myself to accept the reality that life is different now, I will mentally torture myself.

I did this for far too long and it resulted in so much pain. I had to learn to let it go, and as mentioned, I still have to work at it every day. Finding joy in whatever I do is where I try to put my focus, so the past does not determine my present or future happiness. I feel I have better accepted the challenges I live with and learned to ride the fluctuating waves that each day brings, but I am still a work in progress and expect I always will be.

Every day I wake up hopeful for the best day possible. No matter what kind of day it is, this beginning to my day helps me not fight what I can’t change physically about myself in the moment. What I have learned is that I can only change how I respond to how I feel and do my best to be grateful for whatever I am able to do on that given day. When we focus on the abilities we have now, acceptance follows, giving us greater peace of mind. By holding onto what once was, which for many of us was an easier life with less physical pain, we trap ourselves in a vicious cycle of emotional pain.

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.
Beautiful people do not just happen.
– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross –

Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and the author of 2 books: Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey and Beyond Pain and Suffering: Adapting to Adversity and Life Challenges. He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, health blogger, volunteer for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader, and is a member and volunteer writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers NetworkThe Mighty, Brain & Life Magazine, and Patient Worthy. To learn more about Tom, get a copy of his books (also on Amazon), or schedule a free life coaching consult, visit Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram.












6 responses to “Releasing emotional pain about the past to find peace”

  1. Sue says:

    Thank you Tom

    That was a very affirming article for me

    With gratitude


  2. Vic Shumate says:

    Great article! Forgive the past and move on! Parallel to bible on forgiveness! Love it!

  3. Lynne w Yurgel says:

    Your current thoughts came at just the right time for me. Was feeling very down due to the pain and limitations it left me with. As usual your thoughts very uplifting and I resolve to do a better job at living with this illness.Thanks again

    • Tom Seaman says:

      Hi Lynne – I am sorry you have been feeling down. I hope this changes on a more consistent basis for you. I don’t know if this applies to you, but the change in seasons often makes me feel a bit strange…often a bit down and more reflective of past times, but it does pass. It seems like it is related to transitions.

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