I spent 25 years taking care of people in various forms of pain.
Acute and intense pain, chronic nagging pain, pain that would shift from one area of the body to another, pain that disabled people, and pain that people endured silently.
Back pain, neck pain, knee pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, headaches, sciatica, neuralgia, migraines, and on and on.
Let me share something that’s true about the pain our bodies experience.
I can hear the protests. You think I don’t understand. You’ve been told your pain is because you had an injury or an accident, or it runs in your family, or it’s hormonal, or you’ve lost all the cartilage in the joint.
But I do understand because I took care of thousands of people in pain just like you, and I’ve studied mind science and how it relates to the human physical form for decades.
“People go through so much pain trying to avoid pain.” — Neil Strauss
Your emotions, at the very least, are contributing to your pain.
If reading that statement makes you bristle, or feel tense, or defensive, this post is for you.
I can’t stress this enough, it’s a statement, but it’s not a judgement.
It’s the way the human psyche and body work. Denying it’s true for you is like trying to deny you’re a human being.
Is it a popular statement? Of course not.
Again, we’re human. It’s much easier to think the pain is related to something concrete. Something that explains to us why we hurt so much.
Everyone wants to know why, that’s why patients are disappointed when their test results come back showing normal results. Yes, this is a common reaction.
When your emotional body hurts, your physical body hurts.
Your pain is going to make you feel it one way or another. The relationship you have with your emotional pain determines if it’s going to cause you physical pain or not.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” — Helen Keller
Feeling emotional pain can be terrifying. It’s scary to think of the abyss we can fall in if we let the lid off our deepest, most painful experiences.
Greif, guilt, shame, rage, fear…they all cause pain and it’s tempting to avoid them.
We repress them, deny them, and tell them to go away. We’ve been told thinking about negative things will bring negative experiences into our lives, so we shove them away.
How many times can you tell a small child to go away or pretend you don’t hear it?
At first, that child is going to keep tugging at you. It may start to talk more loudly. Then it may cry or yell. Heck, it could throw itself on the floor in a full out temper tantrum.
Then it gets quiet. You think the storm is over because the child is quiet. Then that little kid flushes your keys down the toilet, or punches his brother for no reason.
You get the picture. That small child was ignored for too long, so it began to act out.
It’s the same for your emotional pain body. It’s tired of being ignored, so instead it triggers your migraine headache or your sciatica.
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to.” — C.S. Lewis
The fear is paralyzing. We’re afraid that to expose the pain could mean death. It would become out of control. We wouldn’t be able to manage it.
There’s good news here. It doesn’t have to feel that way. The pain doesn’t have to overwhelm you. You don’t have to hit rock bottom, although you can if that’s what you wish.
I get it, I don’t want to feel painful emotions any more than you. I’ve learned the hard way that a lifetime of ignoring and dismissing them has caused me a ton of physical pain not to mention anxiety and angry outbursts.
You can make a pact with yourself to listen to your emotions gently and with compassion. Be honest with the emotions. Let them know you’re afraid, but you’re also willing to listen.
Listen in small doses if that’s what you need. Explain that you’re going to do your best to listen without judging or arguing.
Your emotional pain body doesn’t want to hurt you, but it feels neglected and is desperate for your attention.
Start with baby steps. The simple gesture of opening the door to listening in itself is healing.
That step alone is enough to make strides toward a life with less pain.
You might not ever get to the exact memory or thought that’s causing your physical pain, and that’s ok. It’s often enough to simply acknowledge the pain in your body is the result of emotional pain.
Over time, take steps to go a bit deeper.
I use a few tools to do this.
I get quiet while sitting or while taking a walk, and I just ask the answers to come to me.
You can ask your painful body what it needs you to hear. You can read more about that here: Body, Be My Friend
Your body is desperate for you to hear it. If you’re truly willing to listen, it’ll talk to you.
Remember, you’re listening. You’re not arguing against, diminishing, or dismissing the pain.
It’s even possible your emotional pain body is upset over something your logical mind thinks is not a big deal. What really happened and how your emotions reacted to it may not be in agreement.
What matters is your emotional body thinks it’s true, so don’t discount what it has to tell you.
I can write posts on EFT alone, but to keep it short here, EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique.
I use it with my clients. It’s remarkably effective at overcoming well rooted emotional causes, even those stemming from PTSD, phobias, and abuse.
Think of it as an acupuncture-psychology hybrid. It involves tapping on some acupuncture points while repeating statements that are directed by the practitioner.
Blocked and stuck emotions cause a glitch in your body’s brain-body connection.
We’ve all experienced emotions that, for whatever reason, we haven’t been able to get past. That’s because they’re stuck in a loop, and no amount of rational thinking about it will unstick them.
EFT, like acupuncture, opens the flow for the energetic pathways, and the emotions lose their charge.
It’s a gentle method for quickly healing emotional traumas that have been stuck for years.
Sometimes it can be hard to put our feelings into spoken words.
Open a journal and just let your thoughts spill out onto the paper. It doesn’t have to look pretty or be grammatically correct.
The point is to get the painful thoughts out. Give them someplace to go other than your hurting body.
Writing about painful memories helps people have less physical pain, eases symptoms of various chronic syndromes, and helps people lose weight.
Again, your emotional body and your logic may not agree. Right now you’re listening to your emotional body, so ask your logic to take a back seat for these exercises.
The answers in you. Mind, body, and emotion are intertwined, each affecting the others.
You’re not alone. It’s part of the human experience. The great news, is you can heal. You can feel better.
Visit me here at my website, and also check out the articles below for more useful resources for healing: