7 Things to Remind Yourself When You Are Hurting
by Jess Adams
1. It’s okay to feel pain.
It’s okay to feel hurt. You actually cannot refuse or deny pain. Your relationship with pain demands honesty, and even when you lie and say you’re fine, you know you are not. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to cry or not to cry. It’s okay to feel angry about feeling hurt. It’s okay to feel joy even when you are hurt and think it’s ridiculous to laugh when you’re in so much pain. You may feel confused. You may feel great one minute and then awful the next. You may feel everything all at once that you feel numb. You may not know what the hell you are feeling. All of what you feel is valid.
2. Let yourself express whatever you are feeling.
It’s the unspoken that is most toxic. It is the unexpressed that causes more pain. So you should probably express what you are feeling. These feelings can be scary and a heavy burden to keep locked up inside you. Let it out. There are several ways of expressing the pain you feel. Some ways will help you heal. Some ways will hurt you even more. Some ways will hurt other people. You’ll have to figure out the best way on your own. None of this is easy to figure out, so it may take much trial and error. Don’t constipate yourself with pain! Release the waste. Get rid of the toxins.
3. Know that others may not understand the pain you feel.
They may not understand that you are in pain at all. They may not get that you are hurting even when you tell them you are fine but say it in a way that is obviously filled with pain. They may not comprehend that you are not okay even when they ask “how are you?” and you straight up tell them you aren’t “good.” Most people don’t want to hear a truthful response to that generic question, so when you actually give an honest answer they don’t know how to react. People respond to other people’s pain in different ways, most of which may never comfort you. Just know they do care even if it seems like they don’t.
Some people just don’t know how to help you or what to say or do in response to your pain. Some people are unable to do anything at all. Maybe they are hurting too. Maybe it is more important that you listen to what they have to express, even if you feel what you need to express is more serious. People rate pain according to their own scale, not according to yours. The more empathetic you can be toward other people’s pain, the less focused you may be on your own pain. This could be a good distraction or even help you understand how your pain may not be as painful as you thought.
4. Be grateful.
This is one of the hardest things to do, but if you have a lot of healing to do, then you have some time to practice. As much as you may want to hate everything while you try to ignore the pain, ask why this happened to you, and/or be miserable thinking it is the worst thing you have ever experienced (which could be true), try your best to think about the fact that you are still alive, breathing, and present in this world. You may be depressed, but there could always be something worse than the situation you were given. Try to think about the things you still have or the things you can still do in this life despite the pain you are going through. Be thankful for this painful experience because maybe you needed this negative experience in order to truly appreciate the positive experiences you had or may have in the future. Make a list of things you are thankful for, even if it is only one tiny, insignificant thing on that list.
5. Allow yourself to heal.
Give it time, give yourself time, even if you are in a rush. Wouldn’t you rather heal right than heal wrong after rushing things and risk hurting yourself further? This requires patience. It requires time. It requires the understanding that maybe you won’t fully heal. Time helps, but it doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds. Even if you heal there may be scarring. You may never be the same person you were before you were hurting. Even so, allow yourself to heal even if the damage is permanent. Know that the “road to recovery” is not a straight path with easy-to-follow directions. It involves several steep hills, lots of quick turns and forks in the road that will get you lost and confused. Listen to yourself, your body, your mind. Healing is a learning process, sometimes subtle and silent, which requires a lot of listening, responding, adjusting, and re-adjusting. Give it a chance. Give yourself a chance to feel better, even if you may feel it is impossible to heal or even if you feel you don’t deserve to heal.
6. Be kind to yourself.
You get one body and one mind. Treat it with tender love and care. You may feel so low and think you are better off suffering, but you aren’t. Do something that cheers you up and lifts your spirits. Do what you love to do and if you can’t do that, try to find something related to what you love to do or explore new things to find something else that you love to do. Avoid beating yourself up or perceiving yourself in a negative way. Negative thoughts lead to more negative thoughts which lead to more pain and a longer time to heal. Focus on positive thoughts, positive energy—healing energy—and channel that towards yourself. When you catch yourself in a negative place do whatever you can to change that, whether it be asking a friend or a family member or a professional for help, or just taking a deep breath, exhaling the negative and inhaling the positive.
7. Remember, things may get worse before they get better.
Things will always get better, even if it seems like they never will, even if it seems like it’s getting better but you’re still not happy. Even if you feel you are alone, which may even be the case sometimes, there is always hope. There are some things that seem absolutely horrible and unfixable, and then something else happens when you think you’ve hit rock bottom. Sometimes it may feel like there is no floor at all and you are just falling forever, wondering and waiting when the falling will stop and why you are falling in the first place. Sometimes when you think the falling has slowed it suddenly drops you faster than before. Just know the falling will eventually stop, and when it does you’ll realize the entire time you were falling you were actually flying.