When we experience pain in the physical body, we know it is a signal that something is wrong. Hopefully it is something temporary that will heal by itself. If the pain persists, we then want to find out what is causing it. If a doctor offered to give us something that would simply prevent us from feeling the pain, without dealing with the cause, we would be skeptical. Yet, when it comes to emotional pain, most often we just want it to go away.
There are many ways of numbing emotional pain, including substance use, sleeping, over or under-eating, overwork, or buying things. Even some healthy healing traditions, including meditation, may be used to escape emotional pain. The problem with the escape route is that the pain is inside, and so you can never really get away from it. What we resist, persists. The numbing behaviors become entrenched patterns, creating a new set of problems all of their own.
Ironically, the only way to diminish the pain is to really feel it. Instead of running away from what is hurting us, we need to look deeply and closely at the pain we are feeling. Often it is not just the present situation creating the pain, but rather old hurts that it is triggering. Sometimes those old hurts are long-standing emotional wounds, which never healed.
Anger often camouflages hurt which a person has been unable to express. Conflict with another person keeps the focus on external issues, rather than on looking inward. The reason it is sometimes difficult to just be with the pain is because it can feel overwhelming. Perhaps, as a child, there was someone we could run to when we were hurt, who would hold us and reassure us. As adults, the prospect of exploring that pain all alone may seem frightening, so we bury it even deeper.
A good therapist or a trusted friend can create a safe place for identifying and releasing that pain. Once you can express it, the healing can begin. If you are in emotional pain, do not carry the burden of it too long by yourself. There are people who care, if only you let them in.
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