Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Three Steps to Dealing With Emotional Pain

Emotional pain can be as debilitating - sometimes more debilitating - than physical pain.

It can make you feel that life is not worth living.

It can drive you to self-medicate - anything to make the pain go away - if only for a little while.

Christine Kane has an excellent article on what to do when you are having a bad day.

But what do you do when you are in emotional pain - when someone or something is hurting you, and the pain will not stop?

That's the hard part.

Human beings tend to shy away from people in pain; even though it is not contagious, we act like it is.

It is sheer cowardice on our part. Everyone has gone through 'the shadow' - where pain lives. And we don't like to think about the person that we become when we are in pain. We are not noble, courageous, or gracious... which is why someone who is that way under the burden of pain is so admired.

So… what can you do when you are in pain?

First - Face It - Admit to yourself, even if you can't admit it to anyone else, that you are in pain. Remember that denial is not just a river in Africa. If you absolutely must lie to everyone around you, at least don't lie to yourself. You'll be delusional then ;-).

Second - Figure it out - Why are you in pain? Is it physical? Is it emotional? What is behind it? Is it really about something someone did? Or is it about your disappointed expectations? What is really bothering you?

Third - Feel It - If you actually feel the pain, without trying to stuff it down, or medicate it away, when it subsides, it will actually be gone. The memory of what caused it will be there, to be sure, but the emotional impact of it will be greatly diminished. If you don't do this, it will come back... in a different form. And very often, it will actually manifest itself physically. In the form of headaches, stomachaches, nausea, insomnia, etc. ... you get the picture.

These three steps are hard, but you can get through the pain much faster than if you have a drink, a smoke, or go eat that cheesecake. All soothers just push the problem to another day, and weaken your strength of will and body.

And to answer your question, yes - it hurts like hell. Much the same way that a bandaged wound hurts to clean and change. But we all know that if we don't change the dressing and clean out the wound, what will happen.

Right. It gets infected and festers. And takes that much longer to heal. And when it does heal, it leaves a nasty scar behind.

But if you clean out the wound, even though it hurts to do it, it heals faster, and cleaner, and the scarring is not as great.

How do you positively cope with emotional pain?


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4 opinions on this post:

JGD said...

Lately I've been dealing with a lot of emotional pain and reading this makes me feel a whole lot better about it because it means I'm not the only one and I feel less alone. Thank you for your words, they mean a great deal to people.

Anonymous said...

thankyou so much this helped a little bit fix some problems, but i still dont know how to make this stop happening. im so tired of life like this, i want soimething better.but thnx anyway

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, it's good to know I'm not alone! :)

Anonymous said...

i want to say these are powerful and im going to try it i thought that maybe cutting would help but i realized it wont so im trying this method i have done the first two now its time not to put it aside like i usually do but hopefully it doesn't stay that long thnx