I wont lie to you, facing and dealing with pain isn’t a fun process. It can be pretty painful. This is why a lot of people choose to ignore and “stuff” their pain and feelings in order to avoid it and move on. The problem is, avoiding pain doesn’t remove it, in fact it does just the opposite. The pain that you stuff and burry deep inside wont stay hidden for long. It will resurface as soon as you are faced with a “trigger.” A trigger is an activating event, often random, that causes a person to relive a painful experience. This can be confusing for people because they typically are not even aware of where the pain and emotions are coming from. Don’t believe the lie “time heals all wounds.” This is a fallacy. Time heals nothing, processing pain heals pain.
Why is processing pain so important? Living a healthy life and having stable and healthy relationships is one of the benefits of processing pain, rather than avoiding it. remember how I mentioned before that pain is often triggered by random events? This can leave a person who has not processed his pain feeling just as hurt and broken as he did when the actual event occurred. Imagine how this can negatively impact a person’s life and relationships? Below I will talk about what can happen when you don’t process pain and what can happen when you do.
What happens when you don’t process pain? When you avoid your pain you often end up avoiding people and situations as well, potentially leading to isolation and loneliness. When something starts to trigger your pain you might make efforts to flee. For example, say a woman who was cheated on and abandoned by her husband chose to avoid her pain rather than face it and heal from it. She might discover that the pain is triggered when being pursued by another man, or when around a married friend. Her hidden pain might cause her to miss out on friendships and a future relationship, keeping her from living life to the fullest and enjoying God’s blessings of marriage and friendship.
Additionally, as I mentioned before, triggered pain can be intense and debilitating. When pain is triggered all of the feelings hiding behind your buried pain will be exposed, poured out on those closest to you. Think of pain as a cap on a bottle that is holding multiple feelings inside of it. Feelings like rejection, abandonment, betrayal, neglect, and loneliness. All of these feelings spill out and effect every area of life until you can manage to stuff them back into the bottle, only to have them emerge again when triggered.
What happens when you do process pain? Triggers become reminders for individuals who have successfully processed pain. Rather than debilitating you, they remind you of pain that you have successfully worked through and healed from. It will likely still hurt, but rather than feeling as though you are re-experiencing it all over again, you might feel a sadness for what you had to go through. The pain is no longer a part of you, sneaking up on you when you least expect it. You are no longer controlled by fear and forced to avoid people and situations. I know this because I have processed some painful things in my life. I have experienced the freedom that comes from working through pain and then allowing God to comfort and heal.
Once you have successfully dealt with your pain you are capable of helping others do the same. Think of the woman I mentioned before. If she were to continue to ignore the pain associated with her husband’s unfaithfulness she would likely avoid other women going through the same thing for fear of her own pain being triggered. It is the woman who goes through something like this and chooses to face it rather than ignore it, healing from it, who is able to walk alongside another hurting woman and offer hope. The joy that comes from using your painful experience to help and support someone else is incredible. This is only possible once you have processed it and have healed from it.
Thankfully it is never too late to process pain and experience healing. In my next blog I will talk about some steps you can take to do this, gaining freedom and the ability to live the life God intends for you.