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Consistently Confronting Your Pain: A Guide for Emotional Wellness

Progress past the plateau to healing. Part 6 of our 10-part series on how you can break through barriers blocking you from a life well-lived using the benefits of wellness practice. The series will follow foundational concepts related to wellness and the 9 Dimensions of Wellness.

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Dealing with your pain is a pain. Who enjoys sitting with big feelings that are messy, uncontrollable, and overwhelming? That doesn’t sound like anything anyone would volunteer to be a part of. And yet, it’s necessary for healing. 

Scrolling social media, aimlessly watching TV, and secretly lusting after others’ picturesque lives is tempting. Or maybe your thing is “out of sight, out of mind”. If the problem’s not coming to me, then there is no problem. Either way, consistently avoiding your pain instead of consistently confronting your pain offers temporary escapes from reality that once reentered has even more uncomfortable emotions and sensations to sort and make sense of. 

IGetting Honest About Your Choices

Don’t let yourself get emotionally and physically clogged like that. You might be thinking “Yes, but…”. No. Don’t defend it. Before you had awareness and were just living life under the status quo. Now that you have gained awareness that things in your life are off, you have either two choices: consciously choose to continue living in your pain or consciously choose to end living in your pain. Emotional wellness is the ability to identify and express emotions and do things to meet needs stemming from them without hurting yourself or others. 

Of course, we want to consider the limits of things that you can and can’t control. The emotional toll of feeling it’s unfair, unjust, or undue to have experienced the emotional pain from family, friends, partners, others or even yourself requires coexisting within these limits. This means allowing two things that seem opposites to be true at the same time. Yes, those who you care for or you expected to care for you may have hurt you or yes, you have hurt others or yourself. Yes, you are accountable for healing from that impact. 

Validate that these pains are part of your personal truth and accept your responsibility to change what you can change to live the life you want. There are many ways to deal with your emotional pain: individual or group therapy, journaling, coaches, spiritual leaders, family, friends, books, social media, the list goes on. 

My question to you is what are you willing to do differently to consistently make contact with painful truths so that they’re less painful? 

3 Tips to Consistently Deal With Emotional Pain

Acknowledge Your Limits and Ask for/Accept Help When Needed. You know things - some things more or less than others. It’s okay to ask for help. Asking for or accepting help can be challenging based on how you were raised. Read my last article: “Stop People-Pleasing and Trust Yourself: A Guide for Social Wellness” if you need support in this area. 

Document What’s Working and What’s Not. Change occurs when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of doing things differently. You won’t change what you accept. To get started, identify what you do and don’t want, how those may connect or conflict, and what you’re willing and ready to do to harmonize the two. This builds accountability for your choices. This also helps to continue the process even when progress feels as if it’s non-existent. Staying consistent in choices for your well-being even during the plateau helps to develop comfortability in these new behaviors, which aids long-term change and healing.   

Be Realistic and Keep Yourself Accountable. Self-awareness and self-compassion are essential here. Being realistic means being aware of your current habits - the you, you want to be is possible. At the same time, the you, you are now has habits that need highlighting. How are you going to change if you don’t know what it is that you want to change? Being accountable means making it harder to ignore the problem (in hopes it goes away without your input) and making it easier to apply the effort needed to feel confident in overpowering the problem at consistent intervals. These regular check-ins can lessen the intensity of those seemingly messy, uncontrollable, and overwhelming emotions. 

This may mean therapy, this may mean support from your social circle, or this may mean using tools for support in making sense of things, and learning how to sit with uncomfortable emotions through journaling, podcasts, or other resources. Regardless of your choice, identify what can help you to start. Identify what helps the pain to feel less daunting to come back to over time.  

In this practice, you may slide back into old, unhelpful habits. If this happens, kindly bring your awareness to this, and gently bring your attention back to your intention. Make sense of what got you off track and adjust your expectations and or behavior to accommodate the new information. Repeat this process as needed, preferably sooner after an incident than later. The goal is in-the-moment mindfulness but not expected initially, practice grace in this as your awareness builds. This helps build awareness over time of what you’ve been comfortable with - the problem - and view it as indeed being a problem worth solving now, i.e. prevent yourself from going back to what’s comfortable, convenient, or consistent but harmful to your well-being. 

Closing Thoughts

Consistently confronting your pain versus consistently avoiding it, or even being comfortable with it, takes honest reflection. It can feel daunting at first to accept seemingly messy, uncontrollable, and overwhelming emotions. Practice over time is needed to acknowledge and understand and lessen this intensity. The choice is yours to continue living in emotional pain or to do different things to end it. Adhering to reminders from people or other resources to process emotions at intervals that work for your desirability increases self-accountability for your choices. Consistently practicing these new behaviors depends on your readiness and willingness to feel pain from doing things differently and whether it outweighs your readiness and willingness to feel pain from staying the same.

Call to Action

Looking for more? Subscribe to the Grace Counseling and Wellness, PLLC newsletter, Saving Grace for insights about prioritizing yourself, having better relationships with yourself and others, and dealing with life when responsibilities begin to feel overwhelming. We aim to empower you to make sense of your life so you can live with grace and wellness. 

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