Awhile back I wrote these words: There is only one brand of pain, self-inflicted. What did I mean? Well, I am not referring to physical pain. (I can not claim to walk across hot coals or lay on a bed of nails — yet!) I am talking about emotional pain. Truly, no one and no thing has the power to hurt you emotionally unless you allow it.

In order to understand this concept, first we must understand what emotional pain actually is. Emotional pain is a manifestation of fear. It is your mind twisting a given scenario in a way that makes you believe something bad is going to happen. You become afraid. Fear leads to anxiety, panic. Your mind and body react in shock and it feels as though your heart is breaking.

For example, let’s imagine that three weeks ago your boss assigned you an important project. For three weeks you’ve worked very hard on this project. You put lots of energy and effort into it. You’ve planned, researched, acted, and eventually created. When you are all done and pleased with the outcome, you present it to your boss. You are proud and excited. Your boss looks everything over and a terrible frown slides across his face. He looks up at you and says, “This is terrible. How could it possibly have taken three weeks to come up with this junk? What were you thinking?” You are crushed.

Now in actuality, several things are happening. It is sensible and rational that your ego is bruised. However, your mind begins to race immediately. Your thoughts are out of control. How could he? I worked so hard. I gave this my all. I thought it was good! I must be awful. I must be stupid. I am going to lose my job. I am going to get fired. Things can not go on this way. I am going to lose my income stream. What if I can not pay my rent? Where will I live? What have I done? I am going to end up on the streets!

Within moments, all of these thoughts fly across your mind. You are utterly flooded. The emotional pain sets in. You buckle under the weight of it. The emotional pain becomes so intense that you express physical symptoms. (Yes, the mind does have complete power over the body!) You might blush, sweat, and shake. You might even begin to cry.

This does not make you a weak person. It simply means that you do not know how to filter out unnecessary emotional pain. While your bruised ego and feelings of disappointment are rational, the other thoughts are not. Your boss disliking a single project does not directly mean that you will lose your house and end up living on the streets. Perhaps your boss is being unfair but maybe he just had a terrible day and took it out on you. Perhaps he himself just got news of his own impending layoff. Whatever the cause for his response (even if you really did to a terrible job) you must take it for what it is. You must understand that the emotional pain you are feeling in that moment is a result of irrational fear and you can take control. You are the gatekeeper of your mind. You choose what gets in to cause you emotional hurt and what does not.

In that moment, you must take a step out of the situation and examine it for what it really is. You must breathe deeply and allow only rational thoughts to pass through your mind. I worked damned hard on this project. I am a valuable contributor to this team. His reaction is completely unwarranted. I will not let it affect me. There must be something else at play here. If I have made a mistake I will learn from it and do better next time. You will find that almost immediately the emotional pain will disappear. It will be replaced with a calmness and confidence. It may not work perfectly the first time or even the fifth time that you try it, but eventually and with practice it will work.

Nothing has the power to hurt you so long as you choose strength over weakness! The choice of strength is yours to make. Do not allow fear to overwhelm you and force you to feel emotional pain. You have the power to avoid it. Just like you have the power to do anything. Happiness and strength are choices that you can make for yourself.

The scenario described above and the steps taken to resolve the pain can be applied to any situation. Some situations will be more difficult than others but with time you will become an expert at conquering pain. There will be times when you must experience sadness — the death of a loved one, a divorce — and you can allow yourself to grieve those losses but do not succumb to that pain. Once you have grieved and your body says enough, take back control. Take back the power over that irrational train of thought and find happiness again.

“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” —Carlos Castaneda

Happiness is always within our reach, we must never forget to reach out and grab it!

5 thoughts on “Emotional Pain is Conquerable”

  1. Hi,

    I liked this post. I am a recovering alcoholic (just under one year) and as the fog lifts I am finding a lot comfort in my newfound ability to control my emotions / thoughts / feelings / moods / perceptions. I am choosing what and how I want to feel and I can't believe that I always had the power to do this. I thought I was just going to have to live with all the emotional pain BUT I was wrong. This (the pain) kept me drinking. I found doing this to be very difficult at first but over time I have gotten better at it.

    Thanks again for sharing!

    mk

  2. @mk – I can not tell you how much it means to me to know that my words and thoughts meant something to you. I am so proud of you for coming this far in your journey. Keep up the amazing work. I will keep you in my thoughts and send you love and positivity from afar.

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