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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: The Heart of the Matter

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Heart of the Matter

A friend of mine had a root canal last week.  She was in a good bit of pain, but the procedure went smoothly and now she is feeling much better.  We got to talking though, about how much she wished emotional pain could be like a tooth ache.  We could feel it hurting and then get numb and have the source of the pain pulled out by the roots.  Emotional surgery. And then afterwards, we get to feel much better pretty much right away. 

The ache becoming a distant memory.

But it doesn't seem to work that way with feelings.  At least not all the time, and not the heavy ones. And after we talked it up a bit, we thought maybe we would be short changing ourselves anyway if it were possible to just dig out the hurt and move on.  We would miss out on all the information the pain gives us about what we need, what's important to us and what it means to be mindful in our own hearts and minds and bodies.  And all the info we get about our ability to survive and thrive and grow.

I'm not saying we should stay in the pain all the time, certainly we need relief, but since we can't do a root canal on our emotions, we can give ourselves a chance to get to the heart of the matter.  It  is not always possible to know exactly what we are feeling, what hurts, when we are in a painful moment, or a crisis.  Sometimes we have to take a step back, pull apart the different pieces, examine them and figure out what feelings make up the bad feelings.  From there we can see what our part in things is, how to move forward, how to deal well and in ways that leave us feeling resilient and steady, instead of off kilter and frustrated.

I used to be able to use the image of a typewriter, but it only works if you remember using one and what would happen if you pressed down on all the keys together.  So if you do, it's this: They would jam, and then in order to start working again, you'd have to pull each key back one at a time.  So this is how I think of emotional pain sometimes, like a jam.  And we have take the time to pull each key, each feeling out and take a look, and then we can get to the heart of the matter and get moving again.

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