I’ve been through many obstacles in my life but there is one that I always find difficult to overcome – emotional pain.
Whether you’ve just had a fight with your best friend, or are going through a breakup, or just feel like you’ve lost all hope, emotional pain can feel like a punch to the gut.
You may experience a cocktail of negative emotions like anger, pain, stress, anxiety, depression, confusion, guilt, hopelessness or just feel totally lost.
Either way, if your emotional pain is crippling you from functioning and all you’re able to do is sleep and eat, then you definitely need help.
In this post, I will go over multiple strategies that you can use to get over your emotional pain no matter how badly it hurts.
As easy it is to bury yourself with food, alcohol, drugs, or shopping – please don’t. It can make you feel better for a short while, but you will spiral into deeper pain once the high wears off.
These strategies that I’m covering below definitely take some amount of energy and require willpower from your side, but they will ease the pain. and eventually, get you out of it.
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1. Allow yourself to feel
In the beginning, when the event has just happened, it’s completely natural to go through a wave of emotions. This can last for days or weeks.
It’s totally normal.
Understand that whatever pain you are feeling is valid because something bad has happened in your life and you have every right to feel the way you feel.
Do not try to suppress your feelings or distract yourself from feeling them.
Cry if you have to.
Allow yourself to feel all those emotions. Let it all out.
You need to get this out of your system.
If you want to curl up in your bed for a few days, it’s alright. Take some time off to do that.
You will feel better.
2. Let go of the driving wheel
It is in our tendency to replay the incident/event over and over till it makes sense.
This is the part of our brain that believes that it is fixing things when in reality it is not.
Ask yourself if there is anything you can do to change the past or change what is happening to you if the incident is still in motion.
You will need to be extremely calm and rational when you do this.
If there is anything you can do, take a sheet of paper or your Notes app and write it down.
And spend some time calculating what you wrote.
If there is absolutely nothing you can do, you will need to let it go.
And move on.
If whatever has happened to you has happened already and it is out of your control, no amount of replaying it in your head or obsessing about it is going to change the outcome.
It has happened.
And you will need to move on.
Learn to focus on the things that you can control – like your health or your happiness and do more activities that will help you improve those aspects of your life.
Remember – you cannot change the past. And you have very little control of the future.
What you do have control over is the present.
So, try your best to deal with each day as it comes.
Baby steps first.
3. Talk to people
If you are unable to make peace with what has happened to you, find solace in disclosing it to a few people who will listen to you without bias.
If you cannot trust anyone in your close circles or don’t want to disclose your feelings to friends and family, find a therapist.
A therapist will help provide clarity. They will not brainwash you or make you take decisions that you don’t want to.
They will ask you questions so that you think from a different perspective.
You will be solving your own problems. A therapist will just help untangle that giant mess in your head.
I had a very different notion of how therapy worked until I tried it myself and saw how beneficial it proved to be to help my emotional healing.
Give it a try.
If you aren’t comfortable with your therapist, find a new one or try going to one after some time has passed and the wound has healed a bit.
Every time your mind starts spiraling down into those negative thoughts/situations, you will notice your chest tighten or your muscles become stiff.
It will get difficult to breathe and you’ll suddenly feel helpless and vulnerable all at once.
Take a deep breath and exhale slowly – try to make your navel meet your spine with every exhale.
The idea is to focus on breathing from your stomach, not your chest.
This will signal your nervous system to relax and you will inevitably calm down and feel a little lighter.
It will also help you focus on the NOW rather than the past.
I usually try counting very slowly to 5 when I exhale. If I do it well, I can go to 8.
And doing this has helped me calm down every time I go down that rabbit hole of negative thoughts.
5. Journal to rediscover yourself
We often place our happiness in others and sometimes when the relationship breaks or we face rejection, it can feel like all our happiness is lost forever.
Once this happens, it is important to realize who you are and learn to be happy on your own.
In order to do this, you need to fall in love with yourself.
And journalling is an excellent way to do that.
Here are a few posts to help:
- 43 self love journal prompts to help you heal
- 29 self love quotes to help you love yourself
- 7 self love books to help you fall in love with yourself
Write down how you feel, what you did, and whatever else comes to mind.
Don’t bother about trying to be perfect or trying to control what you write. Don’t hold back. Just let your feelings flow as fast as your hand can move the pen.
Try to journal every day or every other day.
The more you write, the more clarity you will get.
After a week or so, flip through the pages and see how much you’ve improved or how much you have overcome.
It will make you feel better.
This moment may feel like the end of the world, but it will get better as you learn how to deal with your pain.
6. Do something that brings you joy
Find something to do that makes you happy.
It may take a while and a bit of practice but don’t quit for a while.
For me, it’s reading a good book.
Thrillers stop me from thinking. I also love drawing so I purchased a few courses to help me to become better at my skill.
This is also a great time to pick up a new and challenging hobby.
If you’ve always wanted to knit yourself a scarf or learn to play the piano, go ahead!
If going outside is currently making you feel uncomfortable, get yourself an online class or join Domestika.
If you’re keen on learning how to become an illustrator, then here are my top picks of the classes I took to learn what I know now.
Start doing something that takes you away from your bubble and gives you joy.
- Cook a meal from scratch just for yourself.
- Pick up a book from a local bookstore on mindfulness
- Do a little meditation on your balcony in the wee hours of the morning.
In the beginning, trying new things may be daunting. But give it a bit. Allow your body and mind to get used to trying something new.
It will help distract you from your emotional pain.
7. Be kind to yourself
It can be really easy to expect miracles or suddenly wish for the pain to vanish.
But life rarely works so wonderfully.
If you are unable to feel better today, don’t be too hard on yourself.
Pick yourself up and try again tomorrow.
Avoid replaying those thoughts/events over and over again in your mind.
It will only make you feel worse and no good can come from it.
Talk to yourself, comfort yourself, and know that whatever happens, you will get through it.
You’ve come so far in life and whatever obstacle you’ve faced in the past, you’ve managed to overcome it to get to this point.
Whatever pain you are going through, know that it is temporary and it doesn’t define you.
This will teach you to become stronger, and although you can’t see it now, -this pain will have some positive effect on your life in the future.
You will get through this.
Be patient – it is going to get better.
Focus on taking care of your physical health by eating right, keeping hydrated, and moving your body.
I found it very difficult to even get out of the house, so I just walked around my dining table while reading a book.
And it helped.
Moving your body even a little bit will help you feel better.
8. Foster a pup
This is totally optional but showing kindness and love to an animal never goes unwasted.
A pup will give you 10X the love you give it.
Try to sign up to a local shelter and if you are unable to commit to taking care of a dog all your life, you can just foster one till it’s time for it to go back and get adopted.
Having 2 dogs really helped me deal with my emotional pain.
My younger pup constantly pushes her toy in my face when I begin to mope and it helps me focus on the present rather than the past or the future.
A dog will never hurt your feelings and a little love goes a long way.
9. Give yourself time to heal
Different people deal with their emotions differently. And we cannot compare situations because every situation and person is different.
No matter how hard it is, understand that it will get better with time.
Time heals all wounds.
And you cannot be in pain forever.
It goes away little by little, each day and it gets better each week. There will come a time when you may not even replay the incident or event in your mind for days or weeks.
But until then, it is wise to give yourself time to heal.
Take it easy – take it one day at a time if weeks or months are too much to fathom at this point.
This one technique helped me deal with my emotional pain when it got too much to bear.
I would look at the time and focus on just getting through the hour.
If I could get through 1 hour, I could do it for one more.
When I was able to get through hours more easily, I focussed on days.
I crossed each day when it was time for me to go to sleep and when I looked back at the number of crosses, I felt a small sense of achievement.
When you’re really happy, months and years can go by and you’ll find time is fleeting.
But when you’re sad or depressed, even an hour can seem like an eternity.
In no way, is this easy.
If it was, it wouldn’t be labeled as pain.
Emotional pain can feel as painful and heavy as physical pain – if not worse.
But however bad it hurts, know that it will get better with time.
Don’t succumb to alcohol, smoking, gorging down food, or any other negative habit that may seem like the answer.
It will provide momentary relief but will lead you to spiral down even faster.
No matter how bad the pain is right now, you will be able to move past this pain and carry on with your life as you were intended to.
You will be able to bury these awful memories so you can make room for happier ones.
Things will get better and new doors and opportunities will open for you in the future.