Since the beginning of time, mankind has always struggled with pain. From physical to emotional, to psychological — all pain has a purpose. Sometimes the difficult part is discovering what that purpose is and, once discovered; finding your way towards understanding that purpose.
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” — Khalil Gibran
Struggling against your pain only causes more pain. It is only human to have a knee-jerk reaction when you are presented with a painful situation, both physical and mental pain.
For example: When a person stubs their toe sharply on a piece of furniture, the immediate response is usually to flail around the room moaning in agony. This struggle against the pain does nothing to alleviate the pain. Once this person decides to calm down and be still, acceptance floods in, enabling them to access the extent of the damage in a calm manner and move forward with the necessary resolve.
This same concept applies to the emotional and psychological pain that you will undoubtedly experience in life. Once you have recovered from the initial shock that the pain delivers, it is important to quiet your mind and survey the situation. You will only find answers when the mind is calm and focused. Acting as if the pain doesn’t exist will only prolong and intensify the pain, leading to more needless suffering.
(It is crucial to point out that there is no quick fix when it comes to grieving and everyone heals at a different rate and in varying ways, using the tools that work for them.)
1. Allowing Acceptance
As mentioned above, the only way to get through the pain is to work through it. Allowing yourself to feel the sadness and grief of your emotional wounds will give your heart the necessary space to heal. But it is vital to remember that the pain is only temporary and at some point, you must move forward.
Likewise with physical pain … if we break a bone in our foot, there is no point in pretending everything is ok and that there is no problem! You have a responsibility to yourself, to get any pain in the body accessed by a medical doctor, and agree an active management plan going forward, with an end goal. Procrastinating is no good for anybody, and in the end, can cause more longterm damage.
2. Seeking Out Support
Although it can be beneficial to spend short periods of time alone grieving or pondering; it is important to reach out for emotional support from loved ones or specialized support groups. Many people also find solace in prayer and meditation. Whatever it takes to reach out, do it. No one should ever have to suffer alone.
3. Allowing Yourself Time To Heal
Healing takes time, so don’t expect the pain to go away overnight. In some cases, the pain of tragedy and loss never fully dissipates. But, over time it does become easier to live with the hurt that comes from this type of suffering. There is never a set time limit to your grieving process so take as much time as you need to recover. Some people find relief by focusing on creative projects such as drawing, painting, and writing; and others choose to participate in more physical activities such as dancing and hiking. For others, it can be as simple as making time for yourself, and simply being. Things like reading your favorite book, watching a movie or lighting a nice candle. Everyone is different and has different needs, and just do whatever gives you a moment of peace, clarity and a brief respite from the pain.
4. Moving Through The Pain
At some point during your healing process, you will realize that it has become easier to deal with whatever pain and suffering you have endured, time is a good healer. The human spirit is remarkably resilient and given the proper time, dedication and patience it can bounce back from all sorts of traumatic situations. Please remember that no matter what you might have been through, it is not what happened to you that defines you but how you choose to respond to what happened to you.
5. Finding Purpose
There is much to be said about the wisdom that can be acquired through overcoming hardships and tragedy. Approaching your traumatic experience as a ready student will help you to find purpose in your pain and fill you with a newfound sense of compassion and understanding for yourself and others.
Previously published on Medium at https://medium.com/@helenbarry/finding-purpose-in-the-pain