The entire concept and culture around emotional pain completely fascinates me. We hurt a lot as humans; it’s a part of our growth and resiliency while we venture through life. And most of the pain we deal with day to day is our thoughts. What is fascinating to me is that we choose to let pain burden us, and because of that we experience things like confusion, irritability, difficulty concentrating, fear, anxiety, anger, rejection, humiliation, perceived failure, mood swings, guilt, shame, and self-blame (to name a few)…And to add to this long list, pain causes us to mentally rewind time, replay situations, ruminate, and wish for different outcomes. AKA-we are constantly and subjectively experiencing mental suffering. And do you know the worst part is? It’s addicting…
It’s easy for our minds to focus on and discuss the negative; what isn’t going well, what hurts, what upsets us, what we don’t like. Our minds are hardwired to have a stronger focus on and easier pull towards pain rather than happiness and optimism. It’s engrained into our cultures and entangled in our every day life to focus on negativity…It’s contagious to experience pain because it helps us relate to others and gives us something to talk about. We are motivated by pain and negativity, and we gravitate towards focusing on others’ pain and negativity more so than what is going well in their lives.
I am constantly being asked how I manage pain from my personal life experiences as well as the secondary trauma I acquire from helping those that have endured horrific pain. I did not realize how much pain could gradually seep into my life until working in a career filled with it. That being said, I have come to live by a few very important rules regarding pain and how I ensure it doesn’t control me…
- First and foremost – every painful, broken piece of us doesn’t need to be analyzed, collected, or remembered… Some pieces need to stay lost because they don’t belong to us, they happened to us. Let the pieces go. Move forward, and do not hold onto these things. Do not claim the pain, just understand that it was an experience. And as hard as it is, do not tie emotion to it. It just is, and let it be just that.
- Change your beliefs about the pain. We cannot experience love, humility, positivity without an understanding of gratitude. And without any pain, we would fail to see how great life can truly be. How can you look at the painful experience as a learning curve, or a helpful step in the right direction? What positives can come out of this pain? How can you change the belief about the purpose of the pain to help it motivate you?
- Do not run away from pain, allow yourself to feel everything. Be present with your feelings, allow whatever it is that wants to come up to do so. Do not be embarrassed; purge the emotion. This is how we move forward, otherwise we stuff things deep inside to be dealt with later, on top of all the other pain we try to avoid. Embrace what you need to feel; it helps to understand and accept the pain… A very good tool for this is meditation.
- Slow down. We cannot allow ourselves to feel if we are constantly going at a pace of 100 miles an hour. Give yourself time to breathe, and figure out how to move forward with these painful experiences. I am guilty of purposefully going 100 miles an hour so I do not have time to ruminate on pain… It’s how I distract myself, and it is not healthy. Take time to be with yourself, and work through the pain before it gets stuffed deep down to come up later. And trust me, it will come up later.
- When you are right in the muck of your pain, ask yourself if there’s any piece of this that you can control. If the answer is no, you cannot control or change anything about this, then learn to let it go after you process through it. *Meditation is super helpful here also*. We cannot hold onto pain that serves us no purpose. If we can’t make any positive changes, and if the situation is not in our control, we must move on and move forward. What other option do we really have?
- And lastly – how can you make your pain a part of you? Always remind yourself to use pain to your advantage. Remind yourself that pain makes you who you are, and it has helped to develop you into your current self…Your soulful, resilient self. And isn’t that a beautiful thing?
You are never more than one thought away from peace~