5 Tips for Processing and Healing From Pain

man in yellow field

The more you ignore and avoid pain the deeper it is buried in the subconscious, escaping your awareness. The unfortunate thing about this is that even though the pain is hidden its effects are not. Healing from pain requires self-awareness and a willingness to do something about it once you’ve discovered it.

Below are some tips that have helped me to discover, work through, and heal from my own pain, which I hope will help you as well:

Examine your feelings: You might be totally aware of pain that you have never dealt with, as this is sometimes the case. Often, however, many people have ignored and avoided pain for so long that they aren’t aware of it or how it impacts their lives. For example, If you’ve never processed the pain of your parents divorce this can greatly effect your marriage. Maybe every time you and your spouse have a simple argument common to most marriages you have a total breakdown, turning it into a much bigger issue. This might be due to the emergence of your feelings and fears of rejection and abandonment from the pain of the divorce. These feelings are automatic, and while they seem rational to you, they typically seem irrational to others and can cause serious problems. You have to examine these feelings in order to discover where they are coming from so that you can process it and heal. Ask yourself these questions, “Why do I feel the way that I feel?” and why do I do what I do?” Through asking this question you might discover that a simple argument with your spouse really should not cause you intense fear of abandonment and rejection. This can open the door of understanding that something deeper is going on. Understanding your feelings and actions, especially ones that are negatively impacting your life, is critical.

Talk about it with someone you trust: Once you have discovered and acknowledged your pain that needs to be healed its important to talk about it with someone you trust. Talking about it not only reveals your feelings tied to the pain but it also uncovers beliefs you have developed about yourself and the world based on your pain. Talking about it can be a difficult thing to do but it is necessary for healing and truly moving forward without the effects lingering and causing you more issues. If you feel like you don’t have someone you trust to talk to consider seeing a professional counselor. The idea of talking about your pain to someone you don’t know intimately might be scary, but remember, the right counselor wont judge you and will listen to you with sincere care.

Allow yourself to feel your feelings: when you work hard to avoid pain you end up transferring your feelings associated with it onto unrelated people and situations. You might feel rejected by a parent but because you haven’t faced the pain you transfer this feeling onto your spouse or a friend. Allow yourself to feel rejected by the right person, experience the feeling and work through it. One good way to feel and experience your feelings are by writing them down and reading them aloud. This can be a huge breakthrough for you. Allow yourself to cry and feel the intensity of your pain. Feelings are meant to be expressed, not ignored.  One common saying about depression is that it is anger turned inward. Anger that is suppressed and ignored doesn’t just disappear, it eventually becomes a part of who you are, seeping into all areas of your life. Additionally, encourage the people in your life to express their feelings as well rather than avoid them. The more comfortable you are with your own feelings the more comfortable you will become with the feelings of others.

Surrender to God and allow Him to comfort you: Considering the importance of my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, this step is the most important for me when dealing with pain. God wants nothing more than to offer you His love, peace, and comfort during times of pain. For a lot of people this might seem confusing given the common belief that God allows painful things to happen, but this is for a different discussion and blog post.. In my own life, I have experienced true healing when I go before God and ask Him to comfort me in my pain and provide me with His hope. If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ I strongly urge you to consider giving Him a chance at being your savior, it will forever change your life. It is also important to the best of your ability to surround yourself with people who will offer you love and comfort as well.

Work towards forgiveness: This can be really hard and can take a long time. Forgiveness is so important for processing pain, whether you need to forgive yourself or someone else, this step is crucial to the process. Just remember, forgiving someone does not depend on that person being sorry, but on you making a choice to do it so that you can move on. Think about what happens to you when you don’t forgive? When I don’t forgive someone else I start to develop bitterness towards that person and become irritable and angry. This can even lead to fatigue, anxiety, and a loss in energy. Think about the impact this can have. I know that when I make the choice to forgive someone I am able to fully move beyond the pain. Now an important thing to remember is that you cannot skip all of the other steps and move right to forgiveness, as this will likely be a superficial thing that wont last. Forgiveness should follow acknowledging pain, talking about it with someone you trust, expressing your feelings, and experiencing true comfort.

On a final note, if you have worked on processing pain but you still seem to be experiencing difficult symptoms, I strongly encourage seeking out a therapist trained in Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART). As I’ve used this therapy in my work with clients I have seen years long pain and trauma processed and eliminated in a truly miraculous way! I have also experienced significant healing in my own therapy using ART.

Hopefully these tips are helpful for you and encourage you to take some steps toward processing rather than avoiding your pain. I promise you that, although it might be painful initially, it will be well worth it.

What are some things that have helped you process your own pain?

The Importance of Processing Pain

1I 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.