Pain is not the problem. It’s pointing to the problem. Pain is your friend. It’s drawing your attention to a wound. It’s asking you to stop, look deeper, take time and careful attention to what’s hurting. That wound may be physical or emotional.
If you cut your hand, you don’t ignore it and pretend it’s not hurt. No! You examine it, see what it needs, take care of it and give it the attention it deserves. Does it need a bandaid or stitches? If it needs stitches, you don't wait. You rush to the ER to get it taken care of. Also, you figure out how you cut yourself, so you can prevent it from happening again. You know that if you don't take care of a cut, it will bleed longer, fester and possibly become infected - putting the rest of the body at risk.
The same is true for your emotional wounds. Emotional wounds are painful. Painful wounds, that are not properly addressed in a timely manner or that have not fully healed, will bleed, fester and get infected too. They lock in the body as emotional scars. By itself, time doesn't heal wounds. The longer a wound goes unattended, the more it scars. Scar tissue in the body continues to grow, and so do emotional scars. Old wounds resurface as if they just happened. They scar the psyche and damage future health, both physically and emotionally.
People have a tendency to numb out, to avoid pain. They numb out with everything from shopping and food to drugs and alcohol. This is their way of sweeping a painful emotion or traumatic life event under the rug or stuffing it down into their emotional vault, deep inside. Unresolved pain locks in the body and causes suffering. Pain and suffering are not something you want to accumulate and save, like money in the bank.
If you pretend it’s not there, pain and suffering locks in the body, cycles and resurfaces repeatedly. It’s the body reminding you to return to something, look deeper and finish it. Not working through negative emotions or life events is a stressor, which causes you to eat for all the wrong reasons (self soothing, comfort, etc.). This causes weight gain from overeating, but it also causes stress physiology in the body which will also cause weight gain (double trouble) and an inability to lose weight.
Christians sometimes fool themselves into thinking they have dealt with pain and suffering by asking God to take it away or give them the ability to endure it. Pain and suffering are not something to be endured. It's a process to pass through, like opening a door. Pain is pointing to a door and suffering is opening into something that God wants to use for your growth, maturity and transformation. I used to think, "Life is pain, and then you die." No. God has a much higher purpose and plan, so ask, "What am I not seeing? What area of my life or myself do I need to look deeper into? What are you trying to teach me?”
Make space for suffering by recognizing that it is going to require some time and attention from you. Attention is a pain reliever. That’s how pain begins to release it's hold on you and retreat. Go into it. Have compassion and get curious about the feelings that come up. Explore them as you would a deep cut. Is there any debris (toxic thoughts or beliefs) in there that need to be removed? Clean it out. Give it the attention it deserves. Respect the process and you will receive the full benefit.
Pain is part of life, but suffering is minimized when you take care of your wounds promptly. When great skill and care is used to stitch a deep wound, it has the best chance of healing quickly and with the least amount of scaring.
What heals wounds is attention, careful skill and patience, with your emotions and also the emotions of others. You don't pick at a scab and reopen a wound, once it's started to heal, right! Don't expect yourself or someone else to "just get over it." Telling someone to “just get over it”, is like picking an emotional scab.
This time of year, many people get depressed. The reasons may be conscious or unconscious, but they generally involve loss. Often times it is the loss of a loved one, loss of something important, like health or wealth, loss of some part of self or a deep hurt. Don't try to take away or ignore pain and suffering. Not in someone else and not in yourself. Take time with someone who is experiencing pain and suffering. Listening is often times the best medicine. Be patient, because healing takes time and we all heal at different speeds. The deeper the wound, the longer it will take to heal. You know when you are healed, when the memory no longer brings pain and suffering to the surface, but also you feel stronger having had that experience.
If I can help coach you through this process, please contact me. I am a Mind-Body Nutrition Consultant / Eating Psychology Coach who mentors people through their life, health and weight loss challenges.
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