Four Ways People Cope with Their Emotional Pain

unresolved pain

No one gets a struggle-free life. Not the wealthy, the beautiful, the kind, the religious, the talented, the powerful, or the famous. There’s no insurance policy or anything you can say or do that will protect you from hurt and pain during your lifetime which begs the question, “What will you do with your pain?” How will you cope when people intentionally or inadvertently disappoint you? Hurt you? Abuse you? Usually, people respond to emotional pain and hurt feelings in four common ways.

Medicate

A majority of people who fall into the walking wounded category assuage their pain by choosing activities that numb or provide a temporary escape. Pleasure behaviors provide relief from the feelings of emotional pain by flooding the body with dopamine. Over time the frequency of escape usually leads to dependency and then eventual addiction with food, drugs, alcohol, gambling, or sex to name a few. Anything can become an addiction when its continued practice interferes with relationships, finances, work, and health, or brings physical harm. The addictive behavior is a means of numbing pain, but as the body adjusts to higher levels of dopamine, more and more of the addictive substance is required to get the same high. An addiction provides short-lived relief from pain and usually also brings other unintended consequences.

Retaliate

Some people respond to hurt by physically and verbally lashing out at others or creating a hostile atmosphere where others walk on egg shells. In many cases, close family members take the brunt of the abuse of a person who has adopted a spirit of retaliation. As the old saying goes: misery loves company. The unspoken attitude is “If I hurt, everyone else should hurt too.” In the extreme, some people may either withdraw or intentionally seek revenge disguised as justice. Unresolved pain usually leads to more destructive behaviors with the hope that these behaviors will make the person feel better. Revenge is never an effective medicine for healing pain.

Motivate

Still others become super motivated by their pain to prove other people wrong. It’s the I’ll show you response. For example, a child who is hurt by a parent’s comment, “You’re so dumb, you’ll never amount to anything,” may focus all their energy in proving that parent wrong regardless of the toll it takes on his or her life. Although many people have achieved incredible worldly success through this underlying driver, it usually still results in unhappiness, anger, and holding the pain of rejection.

Ruminate

Those who choose to deal with their pain by wallowing in it are usually invited to join the “woe’s me” crowd. They talk about their problems over and over again to anyone who will listen, hold people hostage in conversation, and appear not to want to solve their problems. They aren’t able to move on, because they can’t get past the hurt, and in many cases, their view is that it is everyone else’s fault. When told to make lemonade from lemons, they will give a laundry list of reasons of why they can’t. Over time, they alienate people by draining others’ energy.

A Better Solution

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18

How do you solve the pain problem? God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit are partners who can help heal hurt in the heart. When you truly focus in growing a personal relationship with God, three things tend to happen. You (1) become less concerned by others’ judgment, (2) feel more intense love from the Father which pales in comparison to your earthly relationships, and (3) begin to more deeply understand your personal worth through the Father.

” [God] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

2 Corinthians 1: 4-5


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in ministry, leadership, premarital/marriage, and finances. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.

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