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The Hurt Locker

Photo by Engin Akyurt on

“Motivation is crap.”

Its a real catchy three words, but wait thats just the opening line of how David Goggins introduces his new book, Can’t Hurt Me. It’s an early glimpse into the type of raw, unflinching language the former Navy SEAL uses in his combination autobiography/self-help book, as he relates the tale of how he transformed from an abused child on welfare to a guy stuck in a dead-end job as a 300-pound exterminator to the U.S.’ thirty-sixth African-American SEAL.

I mean Im dying to read it just from that paragraph while also cringing at what must be a world of hurt, in fact a personal “hurt locker” of pain.

In what Goggins says is “no pep talk,” he describes his training, diet and mindset in excruciating and colorful detail as he becomes a two-time finisher of Navy SEAL “Hell Week” training—running through most of the third round on broken shins—and as he develops into an elite ultra-marathoner and, eventually, a wildland firefighter in Montana.

It really is impressive and I wholeheartedly recommend you read it for some refreshingly non BS straight from the hip advice from someone who not only went there did that but has the pure cotton T Shirt. ( I personally suspect he is the type of guy who grew the cotton from hand sorted seed, tilled the soil, walked 10 kms daily to collect rain water , harvested the cotton by hand …you get the picture and just to help you here is a before and after pic of David Goggins).

But this blog isn't about this truly jaw dropping story. It's about a comment within the book which a client dropped into session very calmly.

“We all have our personal hurt locker and NO ONE IS COMING TO GET US.”

Just let that sink in a bit and ask yourself how many times have we all secretly wished (or been expected)someone would come and get us out of our personal hurt locker?

What is a personal hurt locker?

A hurt locker is defined as a military slang that means “a bad and painful place.” A personal hurt locker is that painful place we all have where our deepest wounds are kept.

Often these originate from attachment or developmental traumas which left broken or unhealed keep interfering with our here and now lives. Inside the locker is old, gnarled deep sadness, despair, trauma and loneliness .However the outside of the locker can look very different.

Outside can look like anger, depression, anxiety, substance abuse or addictions and toxic/fuck you relationships . These dysfunctional behaviours and coping strategies in fact keep the real pain and hurt from being touched as its become to much to tolerate. We just keep stuffing more and more into the hurt locker in a repeating cycle.

While in his book David Goggins talks about some pretty impressive experiences (the running on broken shins I see as the equivalent as trying to function day to day with mental illness), I wonder if there is a different nugget for us non Navy Seal types ?

If we can radically accept that “no one is coming to get us” what does that allow us to face and open up to? Keeping in mind that radical acceptance is not about what is fair, right or agreeing with what has happened. What happens when we no longer look for solace in the bottom of a glass, packet of chips, a toxic relationship our resentful anger but look to ourselves for the love, support or plain acceptance we’ve never fully had?

Maybe we can start to find healing from inside the hurt locker and let go of those coping strategies or repetitive cycles? Maybe we’d start to be a bit kinder, firmer and stop treating ourselves like crap. Then just maybe we could have a personal love locker?

Just a thought.

Caroline Williams MNZAC, counselor, clinical manager and proactive

blogger against the stigma of mental illness.

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