How To Use Your Pain To Develop Emotional Resilience

Published on: April 9, 2020

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Running Away From Pain Our Entire Life

“Emotional pain of any kind is a reminder to stop and look inside.” — Gary Zukav

What is the cause of your emotional pain right now, if anything? Is it something deeper such as pain from a loved one contracting the Coronavirus or the uncertainty of the world we live in? I know I’m being specific here, since I’d like you to understand what is the root cause of your pain. It requires looking inward and setting aside your judgements about what you believe is taking place. Usually, our pain isn’t the result of what is happening right now but a residue of the past. We tend to recycle the past into the present moment which obscures what is really taking place. Therefore, by examining our pain, we realise we’ve been carrying a heavy burden for so long that is has become the new norm.

What I’m referring to can be summarised by the disgraced, seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who believed his lies and was convinced he was telling the truth. In some ways we do a similar thing, where carrying emotional pain becomes entrenched in our nervous system. However, when triggered by an event or those who activate our wounds, we wonder why we are reacting to it. Unless we work with a trained therapist or take the journey into ourselves, it will become apparent we’ve been running away from pain our entire life.

Can you identify with this narrative in your own life? It is my experience coaching people over the years, they become aware of their wounds through their relationships. For example, we cannot hide from our pain in an intimate relationship because the other person will mirror our unresolved trauma. Pain will always find a path to our door, so we can learn what we need to at the right time. However, many people close the door to their pain because they don’t want to experience difficult emotions. But I ask you: would you rather run from pain your entire life, or sit with it for the brief time it takes to experience the difficult emotions?

Painful Emotions Will Always Find A Way To Get Your Attention

“If you desire to know where your spiritual work lies, look to your emotional pain.” — Alan Cohen

You’ve got to use your pain and not allow it to use you. Sure, it might be unpleasant in the short term because who wants to experience anger, sadness, fear and other unpleasant emotions? But having worked through these emotions for over a decade, I assure you on the other side lies the most heartening experience of love. Difficult and painful emotions is the entrance fee we pay to experience the wholeness of our true selves. Painful emotions shine the light on our authentic self because they reveal who we really are, instead of who we believe ourselves to be. Pain can be temporary or it can last decades, and the only person who has authority over it is, you. You control the intensity of the pain, and how long it stays in your life. Neuropsychologists believe that an emotion takes 2 ½ minutes to move through our nervous system, yet many people hold on to painful emotions for decades.

This is unnecessary because dealing with pain can help to ease their suffering and live a more expanded and fulfilling life. Yes, even difficult emotions can be unexpected teachers. We needn’t butt heads with them, but allow them passage through us, as eluded to in my earlier metaphor. They need to be acknowledged because hidden within the emotions are messages from your soul regarding your life’s narrative. If we run from these emotions, they will find another way to get our attention. In my experience, this sometimes involves physiological pain such as an injury, back pain, neck pain or illness and disease. The emotions will find a way through the body to get your attention.

Therefore, use your pain to develop emotional resilience, instead of running away from them. Anaesthetising our pain with drugs, food, material possessions are forms of distraction that keep us from attending to what truly matters; our emotional well-being. So, invite the difficult emotions in because they will find a way back to your front door; sometimes when you least expect it. Knowing this, I’d like you to work through the questions I asked you at the beginning of the article. Now that you have the time, it would be a perfect opportunity to do the healing work to overcome your emotional wounds. Use this time at home to invest in yourself and be patient with what you experience. Pain can be a doorway into the past, bringing painful memories, or the opportunity to create a fresh canvas upon which to renew our life’s purpose.

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