In this post, I’m continuing with my exploration of emotions and coming back to familiar ground: negative emotions. But rather than explore negative emotions per se, I’ll talk about emotional pain, in which negative emotions play a part, and how we can overcome it.
What is emotional pain?
The emotional pain I’m referring to is the painful stuff we experience in everyday life like setbacks, failures, mistakes, rejection, loss, criticism, discrimination, exclusion, peer pressure, expectations, judgements, misunderstandings and so on.
We constantly make choices and take certain actions so that we can get what we want, but sometimes we don’t. When our hopes and expectations don’t get met, we feel all sorts of things. At times we have the emotional resilience of Teflon, other times we’re like Velcro. During the Velcro times, these negative events do hurt.
Those of us who have experienced these emotional pains will know that they can be challenging to manage!
First of all, the emotional response is so fast it’s like a reflex; we have very little control over it. Plus, the thoughts that get triggered afterward are often unconscious. It’s hard to be aware of them.
So we tend to pay more attention to the manifestation of the emotional pain, a behavior or symptom, than the core emotions. Also, these unconscious responses are closely tied in with our mindset. Mindset is created over a long period of time, so it takes some conscious effort to change it.
What effects does emotional pain have on us?
It shows up in many ways. It might create a general sense of unease, anger or unhappiness. It could cause low motivation, procrastination, confusion, distraction, avoidance, blaming, jumping to conclusions or feeling victimized. Or physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches, backaches, stiff neck, palpitations, weak digestion or food cravings.
All of these effects are manifestations of stress.
Most of us are aware of the effect stress has on the body. It creates a cascade of responses which in turn can affect mood. Mood has an effect on how we think, feel and behave. If we aren’t feeling, thinking or behaving at our best, that increases our likelihood to experience another negative event. And so the cycle goes around.
How can we relieve emotional pain?
Here are some DIY ways we can help ourselves:
- Pay closer attention to our feelings.
- Become aware of what the emotions made us think.
- Have a positive internal dialogue.
I’ll explain a little more about each one.
1. When we’ve experienced a negative event, we know what triggered us and how that made us feel. But we don’t always know why. Clarifying the reason behind the emotions helps us understand our trigger points. It’s often tied to an unmet need such as a need to be heard, understood, acknowledged, respected, encouraged or supported. Or a value, something important to us, was violated.
2. Let’s say we’ve just had a stressful work conversation. What went through our minds immediately after? Example: “That manager is so difficult to work with.” → “I don’t like rude and demanding people so it’s hard to respect them.” → “I don’t feel motivated to prioritize what s/he’s asking for.” → Action: put off the task. Noticing our thoughts in more detail gives us insight into what we think and how we respond to a situation.
3. To throw a wrench into the cycle of rumination, we can talk to ourselves as if we were talking to our most trusted friend or wise mentor who is 100% curious and compassionate and 0% judgemental. Doing this often can in fact strengthen our positive mental circuits and weaken the negative ones in the brain (see “Positive Intelligence” by Shirzad Chamine).
4. Refocusing could mean engaging in a mindfulness moment, a different activity or a different way of looking at the situation. One caveat: even though we do this all the time, refocusing without acknowledging the emotions and thoughts at some point isn’t so helpful. Maybe we’ve succeeded in suppressing the emotion, but we haven’t learned from it yet. Facing it squarely might be unpleasant, but it will take the sting out of the emotion later if it surfaces again.
Does energy clearing heal emotional pain?
Yes! And it also depends. Some expect energy clearing to do all the heavy lifting on our behalf. As in, it should be as easy as clearing the subconscious of all undesirable emotions and negative thoughts and presto! Emotional pain healed and mindset changed.
When the issue is pretty straightforward or we’re fairly aligned within ourselves, that happens. The pieces just fall into place! But if certain limiting beliefs have been reinforced, habits have been formed and we’ve just started working on ourselves more intentionally, then we need energy clearing plus something else.
What else do we need?
The subconscious does influence our decision making in many subtle ways. It has access to so much more information than we can ever consciously know. Its size is vast and unfathomable.
There’s only one thing the subconscious mind doesn’t have: agency. Agency means having the power to make our own choices independently and act on them. It resides in the conscious.
If the subconscious influences the conscious mind, and the conscious mind is the one that makes decisions and puts them into action, then it helps to clear the subconscious as best as we can.
Remove the key stuff (this is where the Body Code and MAP Method can be effective). Then use the conscious mind to come up with a different action. One that’s going to support, not sabotage, ourselves instead.
Working through emotional pain is a process of experimentation, for sure. But the more we do it, the more we can manage our negative emotions, put our emotional pain behind us, and open the door to more freedom and possibilities!
I hope this is helpful for anyone on the journey of healing and growth. If you have any questions or need additional support, I would be more than happy to help! Please feel free to reach out to me here.