Life presents so many things for which to be grateful. However, we'll all endure hardships over the course of our lifetimes. Pain is an inescapable part of the human condition.
But becoming a prisoner of that pain isn't necessary. This is the difference between pain and suffering; the latter is a prolonged experience of the initial upset. Here are four techniques to alleviate the weight of emotional pain and help move you through those difficult periods.
1. Ask yourself if the root of your pain is real.
Obviously, this doesn't apply to every cause of pain. A loved one’s passing or a terminal diagnosis is undeniably real. However, there are many times when we torture ourselves over things that simply aren’t true. Will you really die if your significant other leaves you? Or we might have internalized what others have said about us. Another instance would be assigning our own meanings to the actions of another. If we simply ask and gain some clarity, our pain may be imagined. We must find a way to separate truth from fiction.
2. Feel it.
Once you have established that the pain is real, you must feel the full extent of it. Note that feeling it doesn't mean wallowing in it. Many people go into denial or use distractions to avoid the feeling, but repression has never helped anyone in any productive way. What you don’t deal with comes to express itself in unhealthy ways. The longer it's avoided, the more damage you have to deal with down the road. Time won't heal all wounds; only awareness can do that. Understand that nothing heals unconsciously and face it head on.
3. Extract the lesson.
We have the tendency to ask “why” when painful experiences occur. Rather than ask the open-ended question (which you may not be able to answer), choose to assign a meaning. What lessons did you learn in the process? It might be that you're stronger than you ever thought you could be. It might be that you learned vulnerability. Perhaps you found out how resilient you are and that nothing can keep you down. There's value in every experience if you dig for it. When you seek the lesson, the pain is lessened/”lesson-ed.”
4. Get counseling.
Everyone heals at a different rate. However, when you see that your pain is protracted and interfering with daily life, it may be time to seek professional help. When your suffering is getting in the way of your focus, your self-care, or your ability to keep healthy relationships, you may not be able to pull yourself out of it. Get the appropriate help, whether it’s calling a hotline, joining a support group, or obtaining individual therapy. There is no shame in asking for aid. You need not suffer alone.
In conclusion, we cannot evade all painful events. As long as we are beings open to love, at some point we will feel heartache. We can't go through life shielding ourselves from this, as we'll inadvertently shield ourselves from the goodness life has to offer. When pain happens, we can only walk through the emotion with the awareness that there's light on the other side. Use these techniques to support you as you bravely take that walk.