THE BLOG

The Importance of Processing Pain

09/07/2012 12:40 am ET | Updated Nov 07, 2012
  • Amy Chan Luxury Travel Expert. Relationship Columnist, Founder of www.JustMyType.ca

Some say that pain of the heart is the worst kind to experience. There is no surgery, no medicine, no band-aid that will truly minimize the suffering. That dull, chronic pain feels like it is with you every where you go. It's at the core of your thoughts, it haunts you right before you go to sleep -- it feels attached, as if it is a part of you.

Most people do not process their emotional pain. In our society, where we place value on the ability to move forward and move fast, we don't take the time and effort it takes to process pain, in order to heal it. That pain remains in the body, developing deeper and deeper roots -- affecting one's way of seeing life and dealing with life. We try our very hardest to get out of a state of suffering immediately, because we associate that "bad feeling" with weakness and inefficiency. So we tranquilize our pain, we numb it, we escape it -- we do everything to avoid feeling it.

But that feeling wants and needs to be felt, and will have its way with you one way or another. Either it slowly poisons you until your soul eventually dies, or it comes out with 10 times the force and trauma later on, when some future event triggers you and rips open the wound. The consequence of not processing pain in the present is that it finds a way to sneak into your future. In my opinion, I believe the reason why people continue to repeat the same suffering and pain in future relationships and situations is because they never let their wounds properly heal.

I've had to learn how to be with that uncomfortable feeling of pain and honor my feelings instead of resisting them. It's been challenging, to say the least. It feels like I'm stuck in the same place, having the same questions and inner dialogue. In those moments, I feel fed up and angry with myself that I have to repeat the same episode of crying and confusion, like it's some twisted version of Groundhog Day. Sometimes I force myself to stop the feeling and return to acting strong and capable. Sometimes, I give myself permission to just be present with what stirs up, and be gentle with myself. The former is the hardest to do. Often, I psycho-analyze the heck out of my feelings and have a hard time deciphering if it's the situation that is stirring up the pain, or other deep-rooted childhood stuff.

I'm starting to understand and appreciate that situations, such as breakups, loss, etc. can act like catalysts. The pain felt is one part fresh from the experience, and the other parts are from old wounds that were never fully healed. Painful as they may be, they are opportunities in disguise, that give you the chance to rewrite the stories we attach to past events that ultimately shape our perception of reality. When I see suffering in such a light, I understand that it is not a state of "good" or "bad" -- it just is. It is part of being human and a part of the beauty of the experience of life.

Amy Chan is a relationship columnist and lifestyle writer.

For more by Amy Chan, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.

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