Have you ever noticed that people are quick to avoid, deny, numb, suppress, and if possible alleviate their pain as quickly as possible? What would happen if we sat with our emotional pain? Our distress may be a normal response to a circumstance, yet we are inclined to eliminate it as soon as possible. When it comes to our children, we may be even quicker in our response. Of course if our children’s emotional pain lasts for an extended period of time or prevents them from functioning then responding is appropriate, but sometimes parents respond too quickly and don’t allow their children to learn to cope with stress on their own.
We tend to deal with our emotional pain through various means, such as self-medicating, denying, compartmentalizing, avoiding or displacing as a means of coping. Sadly, people rely too much on these or other unhealthy defense mechanisms to deal with emotional pain. Instead, consider sitting with your pain as an alternative response and reflecting or meditating on the pain before implementing healthy strategies to work through it. Similarly, we might consider allowing our children to work through their own pain without jumping in to fix and solve their conflicts. Our emotional pain can serve a valuable purpose and allow for tremendous growth when we accept our feelings, understand the origin, and recognize the impact on our lives. So how do we sit with our pain?
Try being still and experiencing the emotions when they occur without moving to distract or respond immediately. Consider writing your feelings in a journal and sharing them with a spouse or close friend. As the expression, “no pain, no gain,” allies to physical training, this phrase can be applicable to our emotional struggles as well. We have to go through it to get through it. Quiet time with God can be another positive way to confront pain and release it. Since we all like control to some extent, relinquishing it can be a challenge, but also extremely liberating. Sometimes sitting with our pain can make us stronger, give us insights, and motivate us to generate a game plan. As I’ve shared before, often suffering and healing occur simultaneously. Allow the healing to occur by feeling the pain.