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When Emotional Pain Turns Physical

girl in emotional pain


When Emotional Pain Turns Physical

Girl in pain, Adobe

When Emotional Pain Turns Physical

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Pain is the body's way of communicating that something is amiss. Treatment, exercise, and medication may be called for to heal the problem. The same is so for emotional pain. There are times when help is needed to heal the lingering effects of trauma or loss.

Judith had a bout of shingles a few years ago that caused extreme neurological pain in the left side of her face and head. When she looked in the mirror, she saw lesions and a left eye that was swollen shut. For a brief period of time, in she wondered if she would look and feel this way forever. She had a heart-pounding fear reaction. Then, she the emotional strength to remind herself that she would recover. She did question (and hoped she would never find out) how people lived with chronic pain. A friend had mentioned that some people “suffer with shingles for quite a while.”  Judith’s response was “I don’t do suffering.” Instead, she followed her doctor’s instructions, took the needed medication, rested when she could and reinforced for herself that she would recover. Her attitude helped her heal.

Resiliency VS Nurturing Illness

Judith had developed resiliency skills that enabled her to heal and only occasionally does she experience what she calls the “shingles tingles,” which are neurological residual impact of the condition.

Claire, on the other hand, had chronic pain throughout much of her life. As a child, she noticed that she received attention from her overworked and under-rested mother when she was ill. Out would come the blankets, hot tea, cuddles and 1:1 time with her mom. Although she may not have been consciously aware of the connection when she was young, it was in the office of her therapist that she was able to identify the connection between her current illness and the desire for being noticed by her husband and appreciated by her children, since her symptoms would exacerbate when she was feeling neglected.

The Three Step Paradigm For Emotional Pain Retainers

There are potentially three ways that we can view the experience of awareness of the broken places in our lives.

  • Victim- an event or series of events have occurred that created core wounds. It may take the form of abuse, assault, trauma or loss of some kind. The facts exist. Interpretation of these experiences is what contributed to the exacerbation of the conditions that might include depression, anxiety or addiction. “It’s his fault that I am angry.”   “It’s her fault that I feel worthless.” “If not for being raised in an alcoholic household, I wouldn’t have become addicted myself.”
  • Survivor- even if the above scenarios occurred in someone’s life, they have assessed the impact, sought support and have begun to heal their emotional injuries. Engaging in therapy, attending 12 step, refuge recovery or another alternative meeting, surrounding themselves with people who are their cheerleaders assists with making progress.
  • Thriver- well on their way to sustained recovery, the thriver reaches out to help others. A powerful example are Bill W. and Dr. Bob who founded AA. Others include the creators of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and Shawne Duperon who formed Project Forgive. By assisting others, thrivers find that their own healing is enhanced. The concept of paying it forward can be applied here.

 What Is Woundology

Author, speaker and modern mystic, Caroline Myss coined the term ‘woundology’.  It exemplifies the ways in which some wear their painful life experiences as a badge of honor. While it is indeed honorable to acknowledge where we have been, it is important not to remain entrenched in the muck and mire of the past. It can instead, be a jumping off point to a healed and whole future.


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