The key to stopping extreme emotional pain

If you are in extreme emotional pain, please answer this: who is your worst enemy?

Who is the one hurting you?

Most of the time the only person hurting you is yourself.

Before you react, please let me explain.

A lot of things happen to us over the course of life. It is normal to feel hurt and upset. As it all piles up, or if the injury is deep, it is natural to feel this extreme emotional pain. There is nothing wrong with it, we are all only human.

But often times, emotional pain comes after the event, whatever it is. Someone insulted you, betrayed you, hurt you, abused you, or lied to you?

Your natural reaction at that very moment is most likely to be out of your control, unless you’ve been practising self control for a while.

When does the pain come?

But when does the real pain kick in? Most likely, it’s after the event. That is when all the thoughts come in. “I can’t believe he did that!” “Why me? What did I do?” “She shouldn’t have done that!”

And then you stew about it, you get upset. Your thoughts feed your emotions. Your emotions feed your thoughts in a vicious cycle. It spirals into emotional pain, and sometimes into depression and anger. How long does this aftermath go for? Hours? Days? Years?

These are hours, days, months, and years that you could have spent in happiness instead of emotional pain.

Cut it off at the root

So who’s your worst enemy? Your ego, your uncontrolled thoughts.

In Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, it is recommended that you switch these thoughts around. Replace a negative thought with a positive one. That’s a great idea, and it worked wonders for me when I was in depression. But often times when the emotional pain is extreme and intense, we don’t remember or don’t feel like switching thoughts. So what then?

Turn off the thoughts. Cut off the trouble at the roots. Switching off your thoughts requires practice, for thinking has become a habit. A couple of good ways to do this is to watch your breath. Just be still and feel it. Feel the sensation as it enters your nose, down into your chest. It occupies your mind and stops the thoughts for the mind cannot do two things at once.

Once you have done this, the emotions have nothing to feed off. But they won’t die straight away. It’s like a camp fire, after you’ve put out the flame, the coals will still be warm for a while more. Give it some time and wait for the emotions to cool down as well.

Switch to the positive

It is only then that it is feasible to switch your thoughts from the negative to the positive, and change extreme emotional pain into something more pleasant.

Get into the habit of practicing this every time you feel upset. If your emotional pain is extreme and constant, as it can be in depression (24 hours of misery a day), then it’ll take a lot of practice. But keep it up. The results will be peace and happiness at last.