Have you ever noticed how inconvenient pain is?
Whether it’s physical or emotional, there is never a good time for pain to come. Have you ever heard anyone say, “you know, I’m feeling pretty good today and I think if I got hit with some sort of physical or emotional pain I would be ok with it.” I mean, literally no one has ever said that, I’m sure of it.
Pain seems to hijack our lives, stall us, and put everything on pause, causing our lives to come to a screeching halt. Think of what happens when you have a physical injury. Let’s say you break your arm or leg, there are a thousand implications and domino effects for how that will inconvenience your life.
Let’s say you play an instrument for a living, a broken arm will definitely put you out of commission for awhile. Let’s say you’re a professional athlete and your broken leg has you riding the bench for the rest of the season. The list goes on of how physical pain can interrupt our lives in a thousand ways.
What about emotional injury and pain?
A break up, a lost job, a terminal illness, the loss of a loved one, an affair, an assault, a deferred dream, a miscarriage.
These are all examples of situations that inflict emotional pain. This type of pain is tricky to navigate because you can’t necessarily see it or measure it. It’s hidden in the heart and mind, therefore it could easily be neglected and not tended to in the way it needs to be.
Often I hear clients say (and I’ve said it many times myself) “Ughh I thought I was further along than this”, when they’re feeling the sting of sadness or grief. Almost to say that feeling pain is like an addictive cycle where anger, sadness, loneliness or grief is a relapse.
Feeling what you feel is not a relapse, it’s a reminder that you’re a human who is real and has needs. A friend reminded me recently that by feeling what I was feeling was to say that what I was mourning mattered. The person who was assaulted and is angry about it is saying that what happened to them mattered, they matter, and that they are worth being angry or sad for. The person who keeps experiencing loss or delay and acknowledges their sadness and anger is saying that what they’re experiencing matters.
When we validate and acknowledge our emotions it has the power to humanize our experiences. What you feel matters, because you matter. The distinction, however, that does need to be made is that as much as emotions are indicators of what we need on a deeper level, they are not always indicators of what is TRUE.
I strive to make this distinction all the time in my work with clients.
What you feel is REAL, VALID, and IT MATTERS. However, it is not always a reflection of what is TRUE. You may feel unworthy, or not enough but that does not mean that YOU ARE unworthy or not enough. Rather these emotions are important indicators that your belief system needs to be reevaluated.
If I feel inferior, rejected, or unworthy, that’s a pretty good indication that I probably believe any one of those things to be true. The moral of the story is don’t shun your emotions, push them down, invalidate them, or despise them. To feel something painful is not a relapse that says, “well, because you felt sad, angry, or lonely again today you’ve lost the battle on being strong and perfect….time to start at square one again.”
It’s actually quite the opposite. To feel is to be real and human, and to acknowledge what you’re feeling is to be honest about your humanity. To feel is to pay attention to what we believe and make any adjustments that need to be made. So, this is your permission slip to feel today and a reminder that it matters, and YOU matter.