So the post “How to stop hurting” has been one of my popular posts in the past. I don’t really understand why. Funny enough, reading it again makes me realize that I sorta disagree with myself. Nowadays, I am more in the team of ‘care less to stop hurting’. What happened? Life happened.
But I realized the reason why a lot of people land on that post because they simply ask Dr. Google, “How to stop hurting.” I guess the world is filled with pain, and our ability to feel pain makes us normal. Just a disclaimer before I proceed, I’m not talking about grief and the sort of pain one goes through after they lose a loved one. I’m talking about the low to medium sort of pain that happens when someone else hurts you intentionally or not. I’m also not talking about self-inflicted pain. If you’re suffering from that, then seek professional help. So how to stop hurting?
1) Understand why you’re hurting. Then ask why five more times. Even though this is a necessary step, it’s mostly the one ignored. A lot of times we think we know why we’re hurting, but we don’t. For instance, we might feel pain because of something somebody did to us, but if we ask why five times and dig deep into the crux of the matter, we discover that the real reason we’re hurting is because of something within us; maybe it’s our wounded ego or some unrealistic expectation. We’ve mentioned it before; expectations usually lead to disappointments, so while setting expectations, the two parties need to be aware of them. Then if the other party breaks a promise or disappoints you in some way, get hurt. Until then it’s really your fault your expectations were too high.
Deconstructing the situation with a friend who can provide a different perspective might help. This is not the time to turn to your homie who would agree with everything you say or do. You need someone more brutally honest to help you answer the question, “Am I right to get hurt?”
A lot of times why people hurt is because they have very vivid imaginations, and they attach meaning from other people’s words and actions. Be it through inference or extrapolation or maybe poor vision, the day they realize that the meaning they’ve attached has no real place in reality, they end up getting hurt at the (usually clueless) person. Being clear about the facts is sometimes necessary. Ask yourself, Real or Not Real? What is true, what is false? Am I justified?
2) After establishing that your hurt is justified, allow yourself to express it. I don’t know what about society that says that guys shouldn’t cry. I’ve discussed it earlier in “Men vs. women who should cry more”. I know how tempting it is to repress your feelings (girls and guys), but repressed feelings are just like repressed thoughts (the famous white bear study in psychology); the more you try to repress your feelings, the worse it gets in the long-run. Sometimes repressed feelings can manifest themselves in destructive ways. At other times, they only lead to you spending time and emotional energy on something for longer than you should.
So as John Green writes, “That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.”
That’s what I personally call the calorific value of pain. You just have to let the pain run its course, you need to feel it, express it, give it time if you have to. One useful thing you can do with pain is to use it in your creative works. Whether you write or paint, pain can be a very powerful driving force for action. So make use of it.
3) Learn the lesson attached to it (if applicable). Sometimes painful situations such as these show us something that is wrong with us. It’s not always ‘them’ who are wrong, even though we’d like to think it that way. So if it guides us to a character flaw we have that needs to be removed then maybe we need to work on that. But sometimes there is nothing enlightening about these situations. Someone wrongs us, we feel pain. It sucks. Life goes on. So…
4) Move on. No, really, really move on. A lot of times, we think we are over that painful incident, when we really are not. Whether it’s through the dominos effect or the trickle effect, the situation can change us. It can lead to something that leads something that leads to something that ends up with us changing in a big way. The trickle effect is when ideas and beliefs derived from the situation infiltrate themselves into our lives more subtly so we see others differently, or we see ourselves differently. Pain affects us, and maybe that’s where its power lies and maybe that’s why we tend to fear it and avoid it. But is it always a bad thing?
Moving on just means putting one step in front of the other, busying ourselves in things that take our mind away from the source of the pain. Oh yeah, that would help too; to physically move away from the source of the pain.
Finally, one thing that helps is to fill our lives with hope again. Life is made up of ups and downs. We are all very aware of that. Yet why is it easy for us to rapidly forget the ups and feel entrapped in the downs?