Understanding the Pain and Peace Cycle to Heal from the Past

Understanding the Pain and Peace Cycle to Heal from the Past
Photo Credit: @eyeforebony

The Pain and Peace Cycle is all about disarming the hurt from your past so that it doesn’t sabotage your future. It’s a tool used to pinpoint your emotions and walk you out of the automated response of recoiling into self-preservation mode when your heart gets poked.

There are primary emotions that occur when you feel unloved or unsafe. The Pain and Peace Cycle works to identify those emotions that surface during conflict.

Dr.Terry Hargrave is an expert in Restorational Therapy who outlined the Pain and Peace Cycle through his extensive work in marriage and family therapy. Hargrave describes Restoration Therapy as restoring “as much love and trustworthiness to the individual, family, and relationships as possible” by combining the best of attachment theory, emotional regulation, and mindfulness so that therapists feel empowered to successfully work with their clients. He has identified personal histories as having a massive impact on the way we as individuals interact with the world around us in adulthood, thus playing a large role in identifying our own personal emotional cycles.

What's love got to do with it?

The Pain and Peace Cycle is rooted in the belief that you were created to be loved. Unfortunately, somewhere along the path of life, the way you were loved may have not aligned with how you should have been loved. And so, until those places are healed, the wounds break back open during conflict within your current relationship or friendship – any source from which you look for unconditional love. When a current situation causes a flare-up of emotion that you’ve felt in past circumstances, the old clashing with the new is usually best summed up with an overall feeling of being unloved or unsafe. Some offshoots of these feelings include unwanted, outcast, unknown, or invalidated.

Upon revisiting those uncomfortable emotional places, our brain, having been so conditioned to react in a split second, tries to cope. The neurological pathways have already been built (think fight or flight) and all it takes is a small trigger to send our brain spiraling back to what it has habitually run to.

While this tool deserves a deep dive study in order to be used or implemented successfully, here is an at-a-glance guide to the Pain and Peace Cycle:

Pain Cycle

  • Person A gets poked and is now in pain. Their primary emotions are feeling unimportant and like they can’t measure up.

  • Person A copes with these emotions by withdrawing, giving in to anger, and distancing from others.

  • This causes Person B to respond to Person A’s coping, which may make them feel neglected, unloved and hurt.

  • Person B then copes in their own way, just like Person A, which may present in the form of blaming and shaming, criticizing, or passive-aggressive behavior.

  • Guess what that coping does? Pushes Person A back into their cycle of pain.

The more you can identify your own cycle of pain, the better you are able to stop the cycle and move into a place of peace.