At some point in a healing and/or awakening process, it’s as if the lid has been taken off the emotional pain that previously was safely tucked away. That happened for me some years ago, and the pain that surfaced was intense and felt overwhelming for quite a while.
The pain still comes up strongly at times, although there are more calm days and when it surfaces it tends to be less intense.
Today was one of those more painful days, and it was triggered by a situation that in itself was very minor.
I sometimes feel like a little kid when small situations are enough to trigger this deep pain in me. Although it’s also something to be grateful for since it’s surfacing to be met, felt, loved, and gently looked at, and why not have it surface based on a smaller situation. In my case, it often seems to be a disappointment and crushed expectations that are the trigger.
So how to relate to this emotional pain when it feels overwhelming? Here are some ways that are helpful to me:
Talk with a friend who can meet your experience with kindness without buying into the stories.
Sit with a friend who can hold space. Sit in silence. Allow and feel the physical sensations of the emotional pain.
Eat some protein and nutrient rich food. Drink plenty of water.
Go for a walk. Use the body. Get fresh air. Spend time in nature.
Rest with the physical sensations. Notice if images or words come up, and rest with them if they do. Return to the physical sensations.
Notice any wish for the experience to be different. Find where you feel it in the body, and rest with and allow those sensations.
Identify and write down the painful stories connected to the emotional pain. Take these to inquiry. (The Work.)
Relate to yourself, the parts of you in pain, and the painful sensations, with kindness. Use ho’oponopono, tonglen, or something similar as a support.
Let the painful stories be true for now. Allow and feel the emotions surfacing.
Remind yourself about what’s happening. The pain is old and not about the current situation. The stories come from the pain and have only a very limited validity.
Ride out the pain. It’s a storm passing through. Look at the pain when it has subsided some and it’s easier to feel the sensations and explore the imaginations connected with it. With time, your capacity to do this will grow and you can do it while it’s more intense.
Treat yourself as you would treat a dear friend, child, or animal in pain. Treat yourself with that kindness.
Treat the pain as you would like to be treated when you are in pain. Meet it with presence, kindness, patience, respect.
Sometimes, like today, it’s often a combination of going for a walk, getting fresh air, eating a nutritious meal, talking with a friend, sitting with the feelings and sensations in silence with support of a friend, resting with the sensations on my own, identifying stories for inquiry, and also riding it out some.
It’s a humbling process. Apart from the healing that can come if I meet the pain with presence and patience, there is also a deepening sense of universality about this emotional pain. We are all in the same boat here. We all experience it at some point in our life.