Overcoming Pain and Suffering, Part 2 of 2
In Part 1 of this series, I introduced the fact that pain and suffering are an inevitable and unavoidable part of life. I also discussed four unhealthy – yet very common – ways that people often respond and cope, as well as some typical results of those responses.
In this article, I will address a healthier approach to dealing with suffering. Please note, however, that this is an extremely sensitive issue and I will do my best to walk the fine line of compassion and respect for your hurting, while still guiding you gently into a place of healing and comfort.
One of the main reasons people often cope using avoidance tactics is because the alternative seems too painful. Acceptance of a tragedy, loss, disease, or relationship means that you must let go of that which you were holding onto and which meant so much to you – health, stability, “normal” life, or your loved one. Acceptance, at first glance, also seems to mean letting go of hope and trading it in for despair and grief. Would anyone willingly make this trade? Of course not, which is why the pain and suffering of the events are so difficult. You didn’t choose them; or if you did, you regret them deeply. Either way, the resulting emotions may seem unbearable.
The delicate answer, however, is that life has already answered. The unwanted has already happened. All that’s left to do is accept it and begin to make sense of it without losing your hope, sanity, and happiness.
This is where irony enters. The only way to adequately deal with pain and suffering is to go through it. Let me illustrate this through an example. Have you ever been at home at night, tucked away in your bedroom, when you heard a strange noise somewhere else in your house? Your heart starts pounding, your mind races, and your fears take over. You wonder if someone is breaking in. It’s late and you want to go to sleep, but there’s no way you’ll ever fall asleep without knowing what that noise was. So, you decide to grab a baseball bat and explore your dark house. It’s a scary process, but once you realize it was just a window you’d left open, your fears subside. You secure all the other doors and windows, and are able to go back to your room and fall asleep.
Can you see the irony here? You are deathly afraid of whatever caused the noise, but realized that the only way to find peace is to face your fears. The same is true for your pain. It’s scary and painful at times, but when you face it, your initial shock reduces and you begin to deal with your hurt. There are times when it seems overwhelming and there are times when things seem to get better. However, learning the right tools and enlisting the proper support can greatly strengthen you in the process.
If you’re tired of being tired, in too much pain to continue hurting, and feeling isolated because of your isolation, then consider taking that first step. Seek help, whether it’s from a friend/family member or a professional. Time does not heal all wounds – careful, conscious coping does; time simply removes you from the immediacy of the pain (which will resurface later on in your life, usually when you least want and expect it to). Consider making an appointment with me and let me walk with you through your pain and suffering, guiding you towards hope and healing.