While it is easier to deflect your pain, the only way out is through.
Our reaction to physical pain is not the same as our reaction to emotional pain. When we experience a cut or a broken arm, we are quick to act, and will immediately tend to our wound and try to progress towards healing. On the other hand, when we are injured on an emotional level, we rarely give this wound the immediate attention it deserves. This is unfortunate because emotional pain has the capacity to impact our lives to a much greater degree than physical pain. Unmanaged emotional pain can affect the way we think, the way we act, and eventually may even manifest as physical pain and illness.
Most of us will automatically try to avoid or ignore emotional pain in an effort to get through the day. We are often required to put on a smile— perhaps at work, for example. In these circumstances, we mask our emotional pain and do our best to appear happy on the outside. While this may be necessary at times, it is not healthy to carry on this way. If you continue to ignore your emotions, they will keep building up, and eventually you may feel as though you are drowning in them.
The first step towards healing is acknowledging that pain exists. I firmly believe that we all want to be free from our pain, but many of us don’t know how to achieve that freedom. Some of us can’t even begin the process of healing because we have built walls around us to hold painful feelings within.
After recognizing that pain exists, the next step is to take the time to sit with your pain, and identify its source. For some, this may stem from the loss of a loved one; for others, it may be some form of abuse they have endured. No matter the source of your pain, once it has been identified, it is time not only to face it, but also to move through it so that healing can begin.
If you are not able or willing to let these toxic emotions out of your body, this is where certain behaviours may become a problem. As humans we have an innate need to bond to someone or something. When we are unable to connect with others in a healthy manner, we will connect with something else. This may take the form of drugs, work, gambling, sex, or shopping. It is natural for each of us to seek pleasure and avoid pain. However, over time, this repetitious behaviour has the potential to result in addiction. It comes as no surprise that research has shown that addiction is about connection. But escaping through an addiction will not make the pain disappear.
If there is a loud noise coming from under the hood of your car, cranking up the radio to drown it out does not solve the problem. Avoiding the underlying issue only prolongs the process of healing. Alcohol, drugs, and other destructive behaviours seem to have the ability to provide short-term relief, but they are merely blankets draped over the deeper cause.
We all possess the ability to heal from our pain, but it takes immense courage to go within.
Chapter 1 in my new book Born Resilient contains stories from people who eventually understood that their destructive behaviours were delaying the process of healing. Over time, these individuals faced their pain head on, and they sought out a variety of tools to help healing take place.