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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: Serious Stuff, This Pain

Monday, August 4, 2008

Serious Stuff, This Pain

Its amazing how badly we can hurt. How deeply we feel things. I have heard many descriptions of emotional pain over the years. I have had people describe where in their bodies they feel things, what color the pain is.

I ask. Does it ache, or throb, or sting? Or feel like a gong in the chest? Or all of the above.

Do you forget about it for bit, only to have it come back and stab you in the middle? Or does it start to percolate somewhere in your lungs and spread through your limbs? Does it feel like its following you around pinching you from behind?

Forgive the drama, but if you hurt, then you know what I mean. You know that in the quiet of the night, and bright of the day, if you are wounded in your soul, there is sometimes no good enough description. The closest we can come is to talk about the heavy cloak of darkness and the wonderment that we can even go, barely, about our business.

And why is it that when we feel our lonliest, we isolate the most? Somehow in the midst of the hurt, we hide. We retreat to that place in our mind where we can be alone with our sorrow. Sometimes wanting someone to rescue us and sometimes wanting to be left with our righteous certainty that no one in the world would understand us.

All sorts of thoughts go flashing through our minds, like lightening during the day. Its there, but we don't see it. We hear the thunder though.

Whenever we have a really bad feeling, its usually preceeded by a thought. The trick is to slow our brain down and recall what thoughts are flashing, and flashing so fast that we dont see them, and causing all the pain.

Sometimes its the "voice" (more on this is future posts). The negative, self attacking thougths that get us. The big ones are usually to the tune of "You are worthless," "You are an idiot," "You screwed that up so badly," "Why bother?" "You can't stand this." Etc. Sometimes the messages and name calling are a lot worse than that and abundantly present. Like a bad tape that just goes on playing forever. (for more on the voice, check out the book The Deadly Diet by Dr. Terry Sandbeck).

And sometimes the pain is from an event. Or things that have happened to us. Being left, hurt, critisized, misunderstood, mistreated. We can unpack it of course. Trace it back to the source. Like remembering who punched you and why. Sometimes the voice jumps on the bandwagon too. Like when you remember that your partner has just left you, and as if thats not bad enough, the voice chimes in with how you will never have love again, must've deserved it, can't manage a relationship and are just an all round screw up. More pain, just layers and layers of it.

Another source of pain is thinking we have made a mistake that is unforgiveable. Many people feel their worst when they think they have screwed up. A good friend of mine says that we are allowed to make five mistakes a day. Ten if we are awake. And not attack ourselves for it. No self flagalation over messing up. A tall order for those among us who really excel at the art of self attack.

Whatever the source of the pain, an event, a mistake, the negative voice that won't shut up, we have options. We have tools and choices and the possiblitiy of tending tenderly to our black and blue psyches.

Somewhere in the heaviness of it all, we have to know that its serious stuff, this pain. That we have to honor it, consider it, and tend to it. In whatever ways we can. Stay Tuned.

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