Even though we have physical pain and emotional pain, they have similarities when it comes to healing. For the sake of avoiding something uncomfortable, we tend to avoid both. If we heed the warning signs that pain offers, we need not suffer. If we pay attention to an uncomfortable body sensation, there is a possibility of early detection and warding off a more severe illness. The same holds true for emotional pain.
Pain in any form is an indication that we are hurting. If we ignore the hurt, it doesn’t go away and only festers. The problem with ignoring discomfort is that our brain has a remarkable way of adapting to greater amounts. The more we adjust to the pain, the greater the tendency to become addicted to it.
What! Addicted to pain? Yes, pain, like any other addiction, can be a distraction from the internal void and a way to avoid the feelings that are signals for healing.
Avoiding pain doesn’t make it go away; it only increases our tolerance for more.
Face it, Embrace it, Let it Heal
Most pain is associated with either a potential or actual loss. The fear of losing something near and dear is challenging to face, but we are then free to move forward when we do. Otherwise, we keep ourselves hostage to a situation that is no longer serving the best interests of anyone involved. Resisting loss does not mean we’ve won anything; it only means we’ve lost precious time and blocked a better future.
When we embrace the pain, we allow the feelings to flow. Moving through the natural emotions of shock, anger, and sorrow is the bridge to acceptance. Most important, when we embrace the pain, we permit the toxic feelings to be released rather than held within. Withheld pain turns into bitterness, depression, and even ill-health. Allowing tears to flow and constructively expressing the anger is the healthiest way to relieve painful emotions. Taking time to cry, write good-bye letters without mailing them, vent your anger to a good listener, punch a pillow are a few ways to get out the pain without harming anyone.
Most important to your healing process is to be patient and understanding with yourself. The more profound the loss, the longer it takes to recover. There is no set time limit, but the process is eased by exercising compassion for yourself and continuing to move forward rather than backward.
Words of Wisdom
The following excerpt is from my 28-year-old daughter, Hanna, who so eloquently describes the process of healing pain:
“I believe pain is good. It should be welcomed like the nimbostratus clouds during a time of drought. You look up at the sky with regret, your beach plans are canceled, but you know that the reservoirs will be replenished and the world is experiencing its natural cycle.
The same is true with pain. Pain exists to protect the body and is created by the brain to respond to stimuli or experience. With no brain, there would be no pain.
The brain is telling the body what to do. Stop. Rest. Heal. But do not worry, you do have to stop anymore. Purdue Pharma is here to save the day, take this pill, and all the pain will wipe away.
Now, what about mental pain like anxiety and depression. Two things with which I have had an experience. Often people will drink lots of alcohol and suffer from depression, so they then go on antidepressants, not realizing alcohol is a depressant. People feel anxiety due to trauma, so they are prescribed medication to suppress their feelings and never talk about or address the wounds.
We are not supposed to be happy all the time. Life has its ups and downs, but the more we overcome our lows, the more we grow as individuals. Tears are our brains’ way of releasing oxytocin, which means when we feel our sadness and our pain, our brain is preparing us to feel joy.”
Stronger than You Think
As humans, we have been given all that we need to recover from tragedy and loss. Fighting our feelings will never allow us to heal. Acting out the feelings will only add pain on top of more pain. But allowing the natural grief to be felt and expressed will indeed replenish the void with a reservoir of love. When we heal, we know we can recover from any loss, and we are free to love again.
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Donna Marks is an educator and licensed psychotherapist and addictions counselor in Palm Beach, Florida. She has worked with over 6,000 clients. Donna’s struggle with addiction brought her to a worldwide search for healing. She became licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in 1987. In 1989, she earned a Doctorate Degree in Adult Education, then became Certified in Addictions, Gestalt Therapy, Psychoanalysis, Hypnosis, and Sex Therapy. Donna developed an award-winning addiction training program at Palm Beach Community College. She co-owned an outpatient treatment program and is a consultant to treatment centers.
For 30 years, she has taught A Course in Miracles.
Donna is the author of two books: Learn, Grow, Forgive: A Path to Spiritual Success, and the multi-award-winning title: Exit the Maze: One Addiction, One Cause, One Cure.
To find out more about Dr. Marks’ unique approach to draining the value out of any addiction visit https://drdonnamarks.com/etm/ and receive a FREE copy of her award-winning book “Exit the Maze: One Addiction, One Cause, One Cure.” (You just cover shipping and handling).
Donna is a public speaker and has shared her methods with hundreds of thousands of listeners on podcasts and radio shows.
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