By Sunny Simon

Thorny experiences are challenging. Bruised memories of a taxing ordeal tend to linger on like a bad dream even after grinding through the pain and discomfort. This baggage not only casts a negative shadow, it takes up space.  Living with a past hurt is like having a dreary dungeon-like room in your home so crammed full of unsightly objects you cannot get in to open a window and let the sun shine in.

Ridding yourself of the urge to ruminate over past hurts might take some extra effort, maybe even some pageantry or radical action. Recently I read about a practice called a sorrow bonfire.  I never was much of a Campfire Girl but the idea appeals to me. There is power in fire. Take your painful experience and commit it to paper. Trek out to the beach or a campsite and create a bonfire. You might even bring friends along to witness the event. With sincere reflection toss your missive in the fire.  As you watch the document go up in flames, reflect on the fact it’s been reduced to ash and can no longer throw a dark pallor over your life.

Sometimes you just need to beat the crap out of a huge hurt. Years ago when I felt my stress and frustration level mounting I would head out to a local game room. Upon entering I’d make a beeline for a game involving the use of a soft mallet to beat down pop-up gophers. Smacking those little guys back in their hole was not only a fun stress reliever; I also racked up multiple valuable redeemable points. My next move was to gift some little person with tickets that could be converted into cute stuffed animals. The smiles I received in return were worth the all the money I poured into the gopher machine and left me with a joyful feeling on the drive home.


In her book, “Happiness as a Second Language,” author Valerie Alexander offers up another interesting action to rid yourself of a painful experience. Fill a piñata with fun little treats. Next hang it up and hammer your paper-mache character with all your might as you commit to letting go of the bad memory forever. Then scoop up the delights and share them with others.

Ready to leave your pain behind and move on? Try the bonfire or piñata or any other method that ends in joy. Let go of the hurt. It’s time, right?

Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching and the author of the blog,