What Do We Do With the Pain?

Posted by Sooz on Monday, August 26, 2013 | 4 Comments


I happen to enjoy foreign and independent films. They tend to be more thought provoking and have more depth than Hollywood blockbusters. The thing is, they also tend to focus on the hardships of life and they are known for leaving things open, hanging, unfinished.  Mark and I watched a German film last night – not his cup of tea, but he endured it for me.

The film is called Lore. It is the heart wrenching story of five German siblings who are abandoned at the end of WWII. Their parents are Nazi supporters who are imprisoned for war crimes and the children are left to make the harrowing journey across a devastated land to find their grandmother in the north. The things they witness and are exposed to along the way are unspeakable and you see how it impacts the eldest daughter, Lore, most of all. A lovely, innocent girl at the start, over the course of a few weeks you see her lose her softness and naivety. Lore endures so much pain and heartache that she no longer fits in the world as she once did. She is warped by her emotional wounding and cannot relate easily to others. Her grandmother does not understand and the effect on her is tragic.

The movie is beautifully filmed. It is lush and visually inviting with forests, fields, and so much natural beauty, but it is also sad and difficult to watch. I have been pondering it today and thinking about the message. It is unclear what the director’s intention was, but for me, one thing this film illustrates is how pain and wounding, if not processed well with someone who cares, makes us angry and disoriented. Lore went through so much difficulty that she began to feel she no longer fit in the world. Not everyone can relate to that, but I know many of you can. Many of you have been through unspeakable things that have left you limping as if you had a broken bone that was never properly set. I have certainly felt this way in my own life and watching this film made me think, why do we never talk openly about what to do with the pain?

I spent years studying social work and even have a Masters in the subject. I have worked in adoption, adolescent mental health services, and at a psychiatric hospital. I have experienced a lot of emotional pain in my personal life and have also seen this kind of pain destroy the lives of others, but it seems that no one directly addresses the issue of what to do with this pain with much success. We are taught what to do about physical pain, but no one mentions what to do with our emotional pain. We invest tremendous amounts of money to correct physical maladies and prevent sickness, but we do not talk about how to cope with our emotional hurts. Most efforts to address emotional pain are administered long after the pain initially occurred and people are still embarrassed to deal with it. Many have already endured years of carrying the hurt before they can bring themselves to seek help.

Watching the film, I was struck by how much it would have helped Lore to have just one person who she could sit with and tell it all. One soul brave enough to walk through the hurt with her and let her purge it right then and there might have changed everything for Lore. But instead she had to internalize it all and it pushed her to the brink. I wonder if we could be brave enough with each other to share and listen without judgment. I wonder if we could save each other by becoming a safe place for people to unload the toxic waste of their hearts.

The truth is that people have to be able to speak out their pain or it festers inside them like an infection. We have to be able to let out the hurt through tears and words. We need another human to validate our pain and acknowledge our suffering without judgment or shame. It is the only healthy way to remove infection from our souls.

I would like to suggest that an effective way to deal with emotional pain is to share it openly with someone you trust as quickly as possible, then offer that pain up to God, Love, the Universe – whatever source of Goodness you connect with.  As best as you are able, try then to forgive the ones who have hurt you. Unforgiveness only hurts us – it adds to the toxic waste we carry. If we deal with pain immediately by talking about it as soon as we are able, then give it away to the Source of Goodness in our life – healing and hope are much more likely to come.

As someone who has had to deal with such pain, I want to recommend this approach. It has helped me tremendously and I think it will help you. I also want to encourage you that if you are able, try to be that safe place for someone else. It is important to allow yourself to feel compassion for the person and accept them completely – only in this place of Love can they truly heal. If you are a religious person, then trust that God will address anything He needs to with them – YOUR JOB IS SIMPLY TO LOVE. Love is the game changer. Love is the antibiotic that brings healing. Love is the balm that we all need. Listen with Love and let the pain float away as the person shares their heart.  As we do this for each other we create a space for deep healing and restoration to happen.

It is true that we are never the same after profound emotional wounding, but if we use that pain to connect with others who are hurting and share their burden then we have made an antidote from our own hurt. Just as a broken bone heals stronger than it was before, so can we if we know what to do with the pain. Do not be afraid of your wounding – it is the thing that makes you human, gives you compassion, and makes you strong – if you will let it pass through you and away. Start dealing with the hurts in your life and become a place of Goodness and safety for those around you. What a way to give purpose to pain and meaning to life.

A "Good" Idea:
What do you do with your emotional pain? Let Goodness help you.

emotional pain

4 Responses

  1. Teressa says:

    Possibly this is only my own experience, so I apologize if so. But I find from what I read on social media, hear during conversations, read in today’s books, and hear on television we are suppose to avoid negative people in order to insulate ourselves, prosper, and reach our personal goals. As if they can affect our futures in a negative manner. Yes, there is a learning curve in honing this skill in order to empathize properly. This is a twist and deception of the truth of treating others with kindness, love, and the ability to release others. I am a believer in that one cannot give away what they do not possess. So, let’s be honest. Most people today possess a very self-centered version of life. People are confused. They are not able to separate negativity to the point of being a complainer who does not intend on changing (and they need our prayers and support as well in other ways), from a person in pain and legitimate need who desires to be assisted and freed. However, even once perceived properly as in need-then,many people will then tag them as “too needy” and avoid them as the plague especially in the churched today of all people. We have a ways to go yet that’s for certain. People have lost sight of what is important, to be there for one another. They do not realize that the person in need will one day be guess who? Right, them! If we could remember once again that people are what are real, lasting, and eternal in this world. I have personally tired of the “nice” and “positive” attitude and behavior of society of today. And the flip side is not perceived in much more esteem. To be a compassionate, empathetic, and merciful listener-can leave you in a lonely place as well. Most people fear being “found out”. Can you really see “Me”? Accepting of being “real” for both sides is definitely the direction we should be moving towards. I am a believer in it takes Christ to break through the strongholds in our minds and renew our hearts, bringing us to a place where we are able to give and to receive this type communication-which is love. Are there other avenues to possessing this ability? That is not for me to judge or say. I can only share my journey. Thank Susan for being one of those truly loving, compassionate, and empathetic people. And for this very necessary and wonderfully written post.

    • sooz says:

      Thank you Teressa for joining in the conversation! If anyone knows the hardships of battle in the human heart it is you. You also know what it is to have victory and freedom. It is very true that we are ill-equipped as a society to deal with real issues (including the pain of the human heart) being so obsessed with ourselves and things that are not of core importance. The point of this post is to start some conversation or just consideration of what can be done with that pain. I have observed unprocessed pain in all my friends – the ones who declare a faith and the ones who do not. Somehow we are missing the key to how to effectively deal with something so common and core in the human experience. I think we can help each other but we have to be willing to talk about the pain. Thank you for your thoughts and being a part of this process!

      • Teressa says:

        So true Susan. Talking about the hurts and destruction is necessary. My point was society is listening to a lie about negativity, and turning their backs on the hurting. In hopes this helps someone in need. At times it may be you feel you have dealt with your original hurt and pain, Yet, something is still amiss in your life so that you cannot push through to freedom. Sometimes it is not you. It is a block-a deception that the secrets we have kept-reinforced the creation of a a false reality or different reality for others in your life because they were not aware of what you went through. You became misaligned in life and relationships with those close to you. We can’t fault them or even ourselves. They did not know, what they did not know. They experienced the same time line along with you, but did not experience them as you, and vice versa. Same time line, yet different realities are normal-yet extreme in these instances. Sometimes the issue is others around you are still living in a false world, believing things that are not true, things you know are not true. This is a gift in actuality. This allows you the ability to empathize with them. They may not want to accept your truth when told. They will not want their world rocked. My journey? Christ freed me. Susan you helped to re-connect me with friendship once again that God had awaiting me. Both Christ and human connection are required. Christ in order to be released, and humans with whom to share that freedom. Did I talk too much? Lol. We need more fantastic listening hearts like yours Susan.

  2. Traci Bailey says:

    I too can identify with Lore and I also am picking up what you’re puttin’ down Teresssa…
    I’m still at odds with myself and still fighting the same battle of one step forward and two steps back. Sometimes I think the younger you are when you experience pain and the way it and the situation surrounding it is handled (or not handled) has a huge impact on how you deal with (or don’t) the pain. And some people are so “comfortable” with the pain they are fearful of letting go. It’s all they’ve ever known and they are afraid they won’t know how (or don’t deserve) to live without it. I see so many people clutching to old pain like a safety blanket…and along with it anger, fear, bitterness,
    hatred and self-loathing.
    But just like any habit, with practice
    I think even the negative thoughts of people like this can be changed. It just takes a little longer sometimes I think because the pain was imprinted on them at such a young impressionable age and it is ingrained in the very fiber of their being.
    Don’t know if any of that made a lick of sense. It’s just what I’ve observed in my life so far…
    Really awesome post Susan!

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