It would be impossible to imagine going through life without the
inevitable experience of emotional suffering. The very reality of life’s
constant changes means that there will be losses of those we love,
things we have relied on or hoped for, situations that have brought us
comfort and familiarity.
In every person’s life there will at times be pain. Sometimes the
pain is physical, as when we must cope with illness, surgery or an
accident. But there are many forms of emotional pain that we will
encounter over our lives, and facing any kind of pain is never easy.
There are things that can help, such as understanding the situation
as well as we can.
The loss of a job, strains in a relationship,
disappointments when our hopes or expectations are not met—such things
are at least a bit softened by being able to realize what led to their
occurrence. Sometimes there are definite steps we can take to make
things be different.
But that does not always soothe the hurt that can accompany a painful
situation. One of the most reliable aids to coping with pain is to have
the caring and comforting presence of others. For most people, being
able to have someone trusted nearby is a great comfort. Talking about
what hurts, being able to tell the story of our suffering has a healing
aspect of its own. For some people turning to religion, meditation, or
becoming immersed in absorbing activities can also help.
However, sometimes hurts don’t go away, time doesn’t appear to bring
the longed-for easing of emotional pain. Perhaps this is when it is
helpful to consider getting professional help. Others may not know how
to offer their assistance, or perhaps they are, themselves, part of what
is leading to the hurt.
Unresolved anger between people, lingering misunderstandings,
jealousies and envies, difficulty feeling accepted or approved of by
others, a sense of poor self-esteem or body image may be chronic forms
of emotional pain. At times grieving that doesn’t seem to stop, or the
impact of incidents from childhood may hover in the background of our
daily living. Something once turned to for celebration or tension relief
may have turned into an addictive habit from which one can’t find
release. Loneliness, anger, fear, anxiety, grief are all normal parts of
our necessary range of feelings. They serve a useful purpose, but when
they seem to be too gripping, too consuming, when one feels powerless to
see a way to bring an end to the suffering, talking to someone
professionally may help.
Psychotherapy is a process that helps people find resolution to
strong feelings that don’t ease on their own. It helps people discover
different ways to interact with each other for a more supportive
environment, and works to help each person find a balance to suffering
by encouraging acceptance, new ways to handle things, and a more
satisfying and creative manner of being present to oneself and others.
Copyright Kathi Whitten 2009