Pain is something that we all experience but the questions remain the same: How do we deal with pain? How can we heal from it?
First, we have to know what pain means. Physically and emotionally, pain is a sign that something is wrong. When we cut ourselves or stub our toe, our nerves and brain transmit messages that translate into a sense of pain so that we know that we are “not okay” and that we need to heal. If humans did not have this capability, we would go through our lives with untreated injuries because we would likely be unaware of them. The same thing can apply to our soul or to our emotions. If you are in pain, it is likely for a reason. It is a sign that something is wrong. Unfortunately, we are often taught that we should just ignore pain or “get over it.” However, doing so can be extremely unhealthy. Just like physical pain, if we ignore emotional pain, it is likely to get worse and cause more damage.
So how do we deal with (or heal from) pain?
Acknowledge The Pain This should always be the first step; it is very hard to change something that you do not fully acknowledge. Allow yourself to acknowledge that you are in pain. This, of course, is easier said than done. Often our tendency is to ignore or disregard pain until we think it is over, but the sooner we acknowledge it, the sooner it will be gone. This is part of the healing process. Acknowledge the pain out loud if you have to (“I feel awful!”). It may seem silly at first, but what is most important is fully accepting what you are feeling so that change can begin.
Don’t Ignore Your Pain Never ignore how you are feeling even if you think it’s insignificant; if it is causing you pain, it is significant.
“Fully experience any pain, and the pain will be over, avoid the pain and the pain will be waiting” -Guru Singh
Identify The Source In order to deal with pain, we not only have to acknowledge that it is there, but we must also acknowledge where it is coming from. Knowing the cause of our pain can make the healing process so much easier because we can attack the pain at its source. Did someone hurt you? Are you upset about something that was done? Is your life not going in the direction you want it to go in? Do you just feel awful for no reason? If you can’t readily identify the source, at least acknowledge that the pain is coming from some discontent in your life. Once you have a source, it is easier to identify ways to address it.
Don’t Ask The Unanswerable WHY One of the most common questions we ask when we are in pain is “why” (i.e “Why is this happening to me?!” – “Why did they do this to me?!” – “How could they do this to me?!” – “Why does this hurt so bad?!”). It is okay to ask questions for the purpose of identifying the pain (i.e “What is causing me to feel this way at this time?)”. However, asking WHY over and over again often leads us to dwelling on the pain, instead of the solution. Furthermore, if we do not have the ability to answer the “WHY” (i.e “Why did they do this to me?!”), we cause ourselves even greater suffering for no reason. Even more dangerous are the WHY questions in which the answers are almost always negative (i.e “Why does this always happen to me?”). Try only asking yourself questions that you can answer in one sitting rather than questions that have no real or significant answers.
An Answerable/Helpful Question: “What happened that led to me feeling this way?”
An Unanswerable/Undesirable WHY: “Why does this always happen to me?!!!”
Begin The Healing Process Treat emotional pain like you would physical pain: Do something to heal from it. Keep in mind, that there are different levels of pain and not all pain requires the same solution. For instance, if you had a minor cut, you could just use a band-aid, but if you cut off a finger, you should probably go to the hospital……So if you are experiencing minor or fleeting pain (i.e getting upset from a nasty text message) there are simple ways to deal with it that you could probably do naturally. However, if you are dealing with major pain (such as significant loss or continuous pain), you may need more serious ways to heal (i.e professional help, continuous healing).
Below are a few simple suggestions of ways to deal with pain but there are many other options! (including suggestions from WikiHow)
Write Sometimes writing out the way we feel can be easier than talking about it. Get out a piece of paper and just start writing- it doesn’t have to be logical or neat (it can be doodles for all we care), just write how you feel! If you enjoy poetry or other creative art (i.e drawing, crafts) use that as an outlet. Express yourself.
The point is to get the pain outside of you in a productive way instead of keeping it inside of you where it can be destructive. If you are more of the analytical type, actually writing out the causes, effects and potential solutions to your pain could also be helpful.
Speak Communicate your feelings. Let someone you feel safe with know how you are feeling. If you have no one to talk to, say your feelings out loud. This might sound crazy but the key is to release the emotions. Words help us release the feelings that remain within us. Even if it is difficult to get the guidance you need, speaking about the pain can be a powerful first step in the healing process.
Self Care Take care of yourself. Make hot tea, fix your favorite food, run a bubble bath, do something you enjoy. Often times when we are in pain, we neglect our self-care (i.e not eating, eating too much, not sleeping). However, this is the time when you should be “pampering” yourself as much as possible! (SELF CARE ACTIVITIES LHLH)
Meditate/Pray Spend some time in silence where you are not worrying, not ruminating but simply being. One way to do this is by sitting somewhere quietly and focusing all of your attention completely on your breathing and/or your higher power. Even if this is only for a few minutes, it can have tremendous effects. (How to Meditate)
Healthy Distraction If the pain is minor, healthy distraction can help. Go out to a movie with friends or alone. Go to a park or a beach to be in nature. Watch one of your favorite TV shows or movies. Do something that you have not done in a long time. Sometimes laughter can be great medicine 🙂 (A List of Healthy Distractions)
Get Professional Help There are plenty of therapists and many other mental health professionals that can assist you with healing from pain. If you don’t feel comfortable meeting someone in person, there are also hotlines and virtual options for receiving mental health assistance.
REMEMBER Healing from pain is a Process. It does not usually happen over night. Patience in this process is really important. Just like in recovering from a physical injury, we must also give ourselves time to heal from an emotional one.
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is not” – Haruki Murakami