This morning, a dear friend of mine returned to the States. I will probably not see her for some time and it causes me deep anguish. Separation from people you are close to is never easy. Yet pain is something we all have to deal with at one point or other in our lives. While pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. The sooner we get through the healing process, the sooner we will be able to let go of our pain. Here are the steps that I took to manage my pain.
The Vizier on Dealing with Pain
The first and crucial step to dealing with pain is awareness. Sometimes, you do not even realize the true depth of your pain until you face it. As I was working through my pain today, I realized that my friend’s departure was merely a trigger that set off a deeper and larger pain that I have kept buried deep inside me. I am aware of the existence of this larger pain. But as I am unable to do anything about it for the moment, I put it aside to focus on what I can do. Now I realize I have to periodically check and manage this pain before it grows too large.
If we allow our pain to overwhelm us, we simply cannot function. There are times when we have to set it aside to get on with living. Yet it is prudent to conduct regular checks to ensure all is well within. Without this awareness, you might not even realize the true depth of your pain until you face it. Pain can then easily accumulate and snowball if you do not remain vigilant.
2. Set Aside Enough Time to Focus on Healing
To do anything well you need to focus. It is no different with healing your pain. Initially, I intended to set aside half an hour to face my demons. That is the pretty way of putting it. In reality, it merely means that I take a waking nap to reflect on my pain. But as I realized the depth of my pain, I extended it to two hours instead. The result was worth my effort. I got up feeling my inner peace and composure restored. I now had the clarity of mind to turn my attention to more pressing matters.
How much time you will need to heal depends on a few factors. How severe your pain is. How effective your methods of healing are. And how much practice you have in managing your pain. In the past, I used to take weeks to recover. But today, with constant practice, I can bounce back in a day or two unless it is a devastating blow. The key is to take as much time as you need to make a full recovery.
3. Outlets for Pain
There are many outlets for pain. The safest ones for me are sleeping, talking, writing and tears. They all serve the same purpose, which is to get the pain out of me.
Pain uses up a lot of energy. When I brood, I tend to get tired quickly even though it seems as if I am not doing anything. Thus sleeping is a good outlet for me to recover my strength and to let go of my pain. But when I have these kinds of brooding naps, I do not really go to sleep. Rather, I close my eyes to reflect on and face my pain, taking as long as I need to let go.
Writing and talking brings the pain out into the open so that I can see it for what it really is. In the darkness of my mind, my pain and fear can grow to epic proportions far removed from reality. But when I bring my pain out into the open through writing or talking, it is not as bad as I imagine. I see it clearly for what it really is instead of magnifying it. Having someone there for support and comfort also helps in the healing.
Tears are also a good outlet to release pain. In the past, I felt that it was not macho to shed tears because guys have a certain image to maintain. As a result, it was hard for me to let my tears flow when I needed them to. The pain was there inside me like a raging storm but I just could not get it out.
Today, I have no trouble letting my tears flow if it is necessary. My secret is watching Korean romantic comedies because the characters are moving enough. But I tend to avoid Korean tragedies since that would be too much for me.
To let go of pain, you must embrace and surrender yourself to it. When you have the courage to face your pain, it loses its hold over you. But if you keep running, your pain will always have the upper hand. Life does not reward half-hearted measures. It is the same with pain, you must go all the way and hit rock bottom as quickly as you can. From there, there is only one way out and that is up. This is how I bounce back quickly from my pain. Instead of weeks of running, I can now heal my pain in days by facing it.
5. Reframe Your Pain
Pain arises because of the way we choose to perceive an event. How we choose to see that event can cause us pain or empower us. I learned this important lesson from Viktor Frankl’s story about an old man who had lost his wife. This man visited Frankl, a prominent psychotherapist, in the hopes that he could find a cure for the pain of his loss.
Frankl was well aware of the advice he could give, but he knew it would do little good. Instead, he asked the man how his wife would have felt if she had lived and he had died instead. The man, who knew his wife well, realized that she would be in a great deal of pain. It was not something he would wish his wife to suffer. So instead of seeing his loss as a curse, he now saw it as a blessing. Because he lived, he spared his wife the pain of his passing. Seen in this light, he now had the courage to live out the remainder of his days as best as he could.
6. Repeat as Needed to Heal Fully
Today, it was sufficient for me to have a brooding nap to recover. But in the past, I had to use writing, talking, naps and tears to let go. Even then, it took time. It is hard to get over deep pain at once just as it is hard to change a bad habit. Sometimes you have to keep going through the process until you heal fully. So when it comes to pain, do not rush. Be gentle, take your time and repeat the process as often as you need. In the end, what matters is that you feel better.
What are your views on pain? What are your experiences with pain like? How do you manage your pain? Do share your thoughts and comments below!