When we have a broken heart, we often avoid feeling the pain—whether it is a divorce, a breakup, or even a job loss. We fill our lives with busywork to get through the pain, but there’s no easy way out of those overwhelming empty feelings. We need time to grieve and accept the heartache; otherwise, it will heal very slowly or not at all. Experts recommend we go through the emotional pain, not around it. By learning to deal with these emotions, we become stronger people and more capable of handling our trials.
Get out a paper and pen and jot down potential personal goals to work through emotional pain you are facing as you read through the strategies below:
1. Find a New Purpose
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.’”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
The first step to accepting pain is to understand who we are inside and why we react the way we do. You need to let go of whatever is prolonging the pain (fear, anger, anxiety, discouragement, etc.) and find a new purpose. For example, war veterans, who face years of prolonged pain, have been found to flourish when they find a new purpose to put their energy into, which could include family, purposeful employment, or service of some kind. Think of your broken relationship or situation as a classroom. Ask yourself what should I learn from this? I know of a man who hated his job, and then was eventually laid off, and endured a horrific year before gaining new employment. At first, he questioned his worth, but instead of harboring the pain, he worked through it and realized with the new job he gained improved employment and pay as well as giving him more time with his family. When you are filled with pain it is not easy to see it as an opportunity to learn, but it is the best way through. It may seem impossible to recover from a divorce or a break up, yet the very same principle applies. You decide your viewpoint; you also decide how much pain you will go through, just as this man did. You need to know your purpose or find a new one. We are all children of God and remembering our worth in His eyes can help us find a new purpose, perhaps in a Church calling or family relationship.
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Depression and anxiety are often feelings that accompany emotional pain, and physical exertion gives you immediate short-term relief to these sometimes crippling side effects. Activity increases the level of serotonin and/or norepinephrine and stimulates brain chemicals that foster the growth of nerve cells. On an emotional level, this is one thing you can control and become master of for your body’s and mind’s well being. Getting started is often the hardest part of this step toward healing, so find something you enjoy doing or have always wanted to try such as walking, hiking, tennis, running, swimming, or maybe kick-boxing. Find out if there’s someone in the neighborhood or ward who participates in one of these activities and would let you join. Just remember to take it slow at first. In these endeavors to keep our bodies and minds healthy, we often make new friends, who can support us when we have relapses of emotional pain or bouts of depression or anxiety over the situation. There is also power to working out in a group. It can provide you with a tribe that soon becomes family. This can also help provide you with a new purpose in life. Make it a fun journey by tracking your progress. It doesn’t need to be about weight as much as to get in shape or to just feel better, connect with new positive influences and friends, and give you a goal to focus on instead of your pain.
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3. Forgive and Move On
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
When we have been hurt in relationships, we could also just jump into the next relationship just to fill the void and potentially start the same bad relationship all over again. Or we often build walls to prevent from being hurt again. Yet that also keeps people out who could help us, especially the Lord. In our time of need, we should seek the Lord, rely on Him more, and search for how He would forgive others in this same situation. He is the way to change our perspective and to heal. People need people; we just need to surround ourselves with mentally and emotionally healthy people and have healthy boundaries.
Forgiveness allows the pain inside to be set aside in order to see things from a different perspective, and maybe begin to see why the actions of those who hurt you happened. It doesn’t always mean we have to provide them opportunities to act on those shortcomings, fears, or struggles in a way that will hurt you again, but it can mean that you can, with the Lord’s vision and help, stop carrying their burden as your own and move on. If they are open to it, we can have a conversation with them. Or we can choose to distance ourselves from them.
We often believe they don’t deserve forgiveness, but we must remember that we forgive for our own well being, not theirs. When we don’t forgive, we are bound to that person and the link between you will stay connected through feelings of hurt and resentment. Do you really want to live with that all of your life? Forgiveness will break that bond and you can walk away free with a great weight lightened.
We all struggle with the fear of loss and failure at some level. Dealing with emotional pain, whether it was a good or bad relationship or other heartaches, is immensely difficult. Work to change your view. Learn to see the person who hurt you as no longer the villain, but a teacher who has helped you understand yourself and ask “Am I strong? Am I compassionate? Am I empathetic? Do I know my divine identity?”
Learn to forgive those who never apologize. It will free you.
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Author’s Note: Though these strategies can help, there are times when we need professional help to get through situations in life. Like having a broken leg, if those serious things are not treated or taken care of, they could potentially kill us. If you need outside, professional help, ask for it.
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