How to Deal with Emotional Pain
When I talk to clients about how to deal with emotional pain, sometimes they know right away what I am talking about, the pain of the death of a loved one, rejection from someone close, separation from family. Other times people will look at me blankly and say they don’t experience emotional pain, that nothing is “going on” in their life. But emotional pain can be so much more than the obvious. It can be that lingering shame that we are not good enough, the guilt of past wrongs, the fear of rejection, the striving for perfection.
With emotional pain comes the avoidance of it. We all try it from time to time, some of us more successfully than others. What do you do to avoid emotional pain? Do you busy yourself in work, school? How about organization and cleaning? Maybe you’re more of a “work it out” kind of person, spending hours at they gym. Do you find yourself throwing everything you have in relationships? Or maybe just trying to find the next one? Do you find comfort in food? Alcohol? Drugs?
Now you might be thinking, “What do all of those things have to do with pain?” Frequently a client will tell me, “I just want to feel better”, and if that statement becomes stronger than “I want to heal” nine times out of ten they will choose one of the options that allow us to numb and distract instead of the path towards healing.
The thing about pain is it takes a while, sometimes you have to be there for longer than you want to. Its uncomfortable, it hurts, and it can often be excruciating. It will also stretch you and require you to grow in so many ways. It requires honesty and vulnerability, compassion and courage. If you reach for a “quick fix,” the pain does not go away, it is simply delayed and it continues to grow and fester until even your favorite coping mechanism does not work anymore.
If you are experiencing emotional pain, it takes courage to allow that pain to heal; to grieve, journal, talk, cry, sob, surround yourself with loved ones and wade through it. However, the end result of feeling rather than avoiding is freedom. Freedom from the pain, and from a vice or dysfunction that has the ability to keep you stuck for so much longer.