These are very difficult feelings to talk about. Many of us have no one to turn to. No one who can understand. We feel guilty sometimes just for feeling the way we do.
As a result, we live with our pain in silence. Because pain takes up most of our energy and attention, we often put our inner lives, our emotional selves, on hold, but that can lead to a sense of hopelessness and depression.
Here are 4 ways I've learned to be with myself in the pain, to honor my feelings, and to begin to find who I am again in the world.
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings
It’s not easy. We’re afraid that if we allow ourselves to know what we’re feeling, we will feel even worse. What’s true, however, is that denying our feelings doesn’t take care of them, it only pushes them underground. We must acknowledge them on an emotional level. Only then can these feelings begin to release.
2. Understand These Feelings Are Normal
Knowing that you are not alone in your feelings, and that these feelings are a normal response to the tremendous toll that living with pain takes, can bring an immense sense of relief. That acknowledgment alone can move you into a more balanced, healing state.
3. Express Yourself
I have found writing about how pain has affected my life to be very helpful. Finding someone who is willing to be a compassionate and open-hearted ear to tell your story to is also helpful, but you need to establish one important guideline: Listen only, don’t try to give advice.
You can also use drawing, painting, simple movement and dance, singing or toning, or communing with nature and animals to be incredibly supportive ways and places to express your emotional life without having to explain yourself to anyone else.
4. Let Go of Feelings That Are Not Healing
It’s important not to hang onto strong negative emotions, even when you think they’re justified. Emotions that become embedded because we refuse to let them go are not helping us heal. In fact, they can be contributing to the longevity of our overall pain, both emotional and physical.
When we allow ourselves to express how we feel about being in pain through creative arts, talking to someone-understanding, communing with Nature or our God, we feel heard, we feel seen, and we are validated. When that happens, those feelings no longer have to remain hidden or stuck, undermining our energy and resourcefulness. They can flow, move, and complete themselves allowing us to be more available to life, to others, to greater possibilities for overall healing, and to ourselves.