In Emotional Pain? Here’s How To Heal It

Acknowledging emotional pain may seem like an obvious step in the healing process that everyone is already doing. If you’re in pain, you already know it, right?

Not always.

Emotional Pain

Most of us have varying degrees of emotional trauma in our energy field that lies below our conscious awareness. Although we might be aware of some of the symptoms of emotional pain within us, we usually don't fully turn our attention to it and SEE the actual energy itself. Instead, we tend to focus on our thoughts ABOUT it.

Consequently, we end up in conflict with ourselves, wanting the emotional trauma to go away, and fighting with it mentally.

THIS is the actual suffering: our resistance to what is appearing within us. This produces a painful inner contraction, which ranges from annoying discomfort at one end of the spectrum to severely debilitating physical and/or mental "dis-ease" at the more serious end of the spectrum.

It is common for us to become practiced at denial of emotional pain in order to function in our lives. Unconsciously we have learned how to keep the pain at bay so we can “do” our daily lives with some kind of balance.

Often, the energetic imbalance within us actually causes us to create more imbalance as an attempt to gain equilibrium. And our only awareness of this might be a sense of feeling “off” or living our lives with limited inner resources, constantly looking for something outside ourselves to “fix” us.

In order to heal emotional pain, we need to invite it up into our conscious awareness. We need to care enough about ourselves to spend time with ourselves, looking within and truly BEING with ourselves AS WE ARE.

When you do this you can discover an infinite source of emotional support and wellbeing that is always available to you from within.

A self-concept about "I'm not good enough" is usually a key component of emotional pain

So-called “negative” emotions are flags to let us know when something needs to be seen and embraced within us. Your feelings give you direct access into the center of a debilitating self-concept. (You can learn how to free yourself from all self-concepts here.)

Zeroing in on the actual experience of an emotion (not our thoughts ABOUT the emotion) can help us consciously get right to the core, the root cause of all pains/wounds – physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.

Emotional Trauma

At the core of all wounds is a thought / belief that we are not good enough, that we are bad, that we’ve done something wrong.

Perhaps as children we received negative feedback, or even punishment for doing something or being a certain way.

This generally comes about from innocently rocking the boat of a caregiver and unconsciously triggering their unhealed wounds and reactions to their own pain.

Most of us came to believe that our "negative" emotions make us flawed in some way and that it isn’t okay to feel our feelings, especially the really strong emotions that threatened our caregivers’ world when we expressed them.

Consequently, as young children (or even from previous lifetimes) we carried a belief seed of “not good enough / bad / did something wrong.”

As a result, since our experience is always a reflection of our beliefs about ourselves, other reprimanding “events” generally occur that feed energy to this belief. Each time we were reprimanded and experienced negative feedback about being who we were, the “I am bad” thought was re-thought and eventually became a part of our self-concept.

How emotional pain gets suppressed

As young children (and even later, as adults) we can feel overwhelmed by the intensity of a strong emotion and simply not know how to deal with it.

Consequently, we unconsciously form various copying mechanisms to try to suppress our feelings, because it can feel like they will literally kill us if we feel them.

As we move through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood, a self-preservation component of our psyche pushes intense emotions (which result from identifying with debilitating beliefs) down into the subconscious.

This self-preservation component, which we all have, is driven by the instinct to do whatever we can to survive as best we can under challenging circumstances, including turning away from the emotional pain and denying – even to ourselves – that it ever existed.

Unfortunately, even though the feelings from the “I am bad / not good enough” belief may now be unconscious, the energy of it still operates in our lives, veiling the reality that what we truly are, beneath ALL self-concepts, is radiant, alive, consciousness, totally at peace.

Frozen Emotions

Some of us have had the experience of feeling emotionally “frozen” or cut off from our feelings. We know we feel SOMETHING but the feelings themselves are murky and indefinable.

Again, this is the act of a part of us that tries to take care of us in the only way it knows how – to “freeze” up the emotions in order to protect us from what we perceive as the intolerable emotional pain of the shame and powerlessness we feel when we think we are “bad” or "unworthy" at the core. In the whole spectrum of human emotions, this "I am bad" feeling is the most painful.

Consequently, as we go about our lives, we may be aware of a vague feeling in the background that ranges anywhere from uncomfortable to intense emotional pain and suffering, without even having a word to describe or define it.

In this case, it takes practice to allow ourselves to actually feel what is really going on inside – to give PERMISSION to ourselves to see and experience it.

Debilitating self-concepts (as well as ALL self-concepts) aren't real

The essential realization that we all eventually come to in our healing is that the core belief of being inherently bad and having done something wrong is COMPLETELY untrue. Here is the truth:

You've never been bad. Neither has anyone else. We are pure Consciousness, alive, conscious Being-ness, manifesting in a myriad of forms, each of us playing out a role in this amazing dance of life.

We are all somewhere in the process of awakening to the truth of Being. In the meantime, we believe we are these bodies, emotions, our concepts, beliefs and thoughts about ourselves and each other.

While we believe that is what we are, we are in a constant state of reaching for what we think will help us and pushing away everything we think will hurt or take something away from us.

Everything that anyone has ever done has always been an attempt to take care of themselves with whatever inner resources they were aware of at the time.

Generally, we are conditioned to make ourselves and each other wrong. To heal, we must learn to experience ourselves as the pure Consciousness we are. Then we begin to see that
we are all actually the very SAME pure Consciousness – unlimited, unconditional love.

However, in this dream we tend to believe we are all separate characters. We dream up  a multitude of experiences, all of which ultimately serve in our awakening FROM the dream.

And there is no judgment in any of it.

Retracing our steps and bringing the untruth to the truth for healing

Emotional wounds are the energetic cause of all other wounds and dis-eases. To let any wound heal, we need to retrace our steps back into ourselves. We need to become CONSCIOUS of the belief that we are “bad” that is running the whole show of suffering, and the immense shame and feelings of powerlessness that result from that false belief.

It is very important to not make ourselves wrong for having this belief, which only adds another layer of shame. The more you check this out, you’ll see the subtle ways this belief can show itself. While there is allegiance to a self-concept, the mind can even try to co-opt the healing process by making you wrong or bad for not healing fast enough! Or not doing it the right way, etc.

Once we acknowledge and are conscious of emotional pain, the next step is to shift attention to the pure Consciousness we already are. You may know this as God, Source, Spirit, or by another name. All of these words direct our attention to the Energy that is us, that this entire dream arises in. We can begin to discover that God isn't outside of us. We and God are One, inseparable Being.

The experience of shifting attention to THIS that we are is far more powerful than a mental concept. However, at first, we can begin with a concept, or even a dialogue with this pure Consciousness that is us, right now already, in this very moment.

As we become conscious and aware of the falseness of the belief we've held about being "bad" or "not good enough," we start to see and EXPERIENCE the truth of our own goodness. At this point, emotional pain begins to unwind organically, automatically.

When we experience the reality of our goodness, a change in what we identify ourselves AS occurs. We begin to know ourselves as peace.

We see that the core belief of being “bad” was just a misunderstanding that grew out of an untrue thought that we believed was true.

Consciously opening to a larger energy field

…and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

~ Anais Nin

When untruth is consciously met by truth within you, your energy field begins to vibrate at a higher frequency of love and wellbeing.

This is very much like the metaphor of “thinking outside the box.”

If you think of a problem as being contained within a box, you can’t solve the problem by only looking within the box. You need to expand out beyond the box of the problem to find the solution.

In the same way, we need to shift our attention and point of reference beyond the limited energy field of our wounds in order to notice that we are the consciousness the wounds (as well as our entire lives) is arising IN.

This consciousness we are is the only place of peace. As we turn attention toward the truth of our being, gradually suffering unwinds on its own because we are no longer identified with it. The old wounds and emotional pain are no longer fed energy by our identification with them and then, starved of energy, they begin to fall away. 

Without conscious acknowledgment of emotional pain only symptoms are treated

As I mentioned, the first step for healing emotional pain is awareness – being willing to become fully aware of the pain itself, and then being willing to notice that we ARE the awareness that is aware OF the emotional trauma.

Then we realize we are not just our body, beliefs and concepts about ourselves, or the emotional pain. We are what it all arises IN.

The natural outcome of this is a change in consciousness, a broadening and deepening of awareness OF awareness, and the wound organically begins to release by itself.

Until we become conscious of the feeling sense of emotions themselves, we can use all kinds of healing practices that can help us get relief from the symptoms of the pain, but until we are willing to bring attention into the energy of the emotional pain itself and honestly SEE it without trying to make it go away, the symptoms will spring up again.

The energy of the emotional pain needs to be gently exposed with loving compassion, and then touched by the realization of the truth that we are the consciousness that is aware OF the pain.

What we truly are isn't even in the realm of good or bad. We are the loving, neutral space that experiences of "good" or "bad" appear IN. With this realization, wounds gradually release all on their own.

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart. Love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. The point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps, someday, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

~ Rilke, from Letters To A Young Poet

When you're ready for healing

It takes courage to turn inward and be investigatively honest about what you are really experiencing and acknowledge your emotional pain.

Usually this doesn’t happen until we've tried every method out there to try to get RID of the emotional pain, which only feeds energy to it. If you have found yourself here and are reading this, you are ready for something different that works. You are standing at the threshold into true healing.

I greet you with love and understanding. I acknowledge and celebrate your courage – the part of you that has said “I’m open. I'm ready to look at my suffering from a different perspective.”

How you can begin to fully acknowledge what you are feeling and let go into healing

We all have unique predispositions. Some of us are more physically oriented, while others are more mentally or emotionally oriented.

You may experience your first awareness of emotional pain as an uncomfortable physical sensation, such as tightness. Or it could be mental confusion and obsession about a subject. Or you could feel emotionally overwhelmed, like being pulled into a tidal wave that has you spinning and not knowing which end is up.

You may be able to determine the quality of the feeling as rage, sadness, despair, etc. If you do characterize it as a specific emotion, then for our purposes here, for just right now, let go of that description or definition.

Let the energy just be here, nameless, undefined.

Step 1
Working with the body sensation related to a troubling emotion

All emotional pain has three components: mental, emotional and body sensations. I prefer to start with the body sensations level of emotional pain because we get too easily sucked into the mental thoughts or the emotional whirlpools.

By addressing emotional pain on the body level you simultaneously address it on all three levels because they are intertwined.

By clicking here, you will be led step-by-step through a process to help you get in touch with inner emotional pain via the sensations in your body.

Step 2
Welcome the feeling

As you did in Step 1, think of a subject that troubles you. As your attention visits that subject, notice where in your body you simultaneously feel a tightness or constriction. Notice how the constriction feels – the energy itself, not your thoughts about it.

Look for even the tiniest sensation of discomfort. Often this is an awareness of tightness. If you keep bringing your attention back to the tightness and give it permission to show itself, your experience of it will increase. In some cases the beginning signs of tightness are later experienced as sharp pain or as a tight constriction as you stay with this process.

Give the feeling / sensation permission to be here within you fully, simply because it IS here. Let go of judgments about yourself for having this emotional pain energy.

Silently within, tell this energy:

“I see you as you are.”

As you speak to this energy silently, FEEL yourself seeing it. In other words don't do this as a mental exercise. Don't just say the words.

Match the words with your action. Actually be AWARE of the energy. Awareness is a type of seeing. Be aware of the energy of tightness or discomfort in the body as it IS, not how you think about how it is.

Next, silently tell this energy:

“You get to be here as you are, simply because you ARE here as you are. I’m not going to try to fix you, heal you, change you or make you go away.”

Again, as you're saying the words, FEEL how it feels to mean those words. Actually LET the energy be as it is.

The energy is like a hurt child appearing on your doorstep – yourself as a child. If you tell this precious little one you want them go to away, they can't go away. They live THERE, with you. They have no other home.

So essentially, what we need and want to tell this precious one is:

“You get to be HERE, inside with me. You get to be here as you are. You LIVE here with me and you are welcome here, AS YOU ARE.”

Silently tell the energy:

“You can fill my entire body if you want to. In fact, you can fill this entire room, or this entire universe if you want to.”

Again, feel how it FEELS to sincerely mean that as you say it.

If you don't sincerely mean it, pretend you do, like you're playing a part in a movie where the character truly feels compassion for this energy of suffering.

Don't try to make the energy expand. You're just letting it know it can if IT wants to. To return to the metaphor of the hurt child who appeared on your doorstep, we are welcoming this precious child in and letting them know they are entirely welcome to be here as they are and occupy any place in our home they want to.

Step 3
FEEL the feeling

(The process shared below is based on my experience of one aspect of the teachings of Adyashanti, particularly as he describes it in his book, Falling Into Grace.)

Invite a memory that is associated with a subject that troubles you to come up.

As you do this, notice there are thoughts and mental conclusions you made about yourself or other people that arise with the uncomfortable memory. Without judging yourself, simply notice how you feel when you think these thoughts.

Most likely, these will be repetitive thoughts that have been recycling for some time.

Are you struggling? I’m here to support you.

Are you struggling?
I’m here to support you.

Regarding the conclusions you made in connection with the occurrence in the memory, ask within, "Is this really true?" You don't have to come up with an answer to that question. Just be willing to raise the question.

As you think of the memory, intertwined with tight body sensations will be an emotional feeling, a vibration that goes beyond the body.

Now let your attention shift to the emotional energy. Allow yourself to FEEL it. Notice any sensation of pulling back away from the emotional energy and voluntarily let the pulling away relax.

While you're doing this, decline to talk to yourself in your head. Keep it really simple. You're just here, still and present, simply feeling whatever you're aware of.

Let the troubling memory replay in your mind, as if the same event is happening right now, only as you re-experience it now, keep the experience wordless. In the memory there may be sounds and voices talking but as you re-experience it now, edit out the words you tell yourself ABOUT the experience in your head.

To help you stay out of the story about the incident in your head, pretend you are a film editor and the memory is a piece of film. You have very sophisticated editing software that allows you to edit out your thoughts, including the conclusions you made about yourself and/or the other people involved, that were occurring when the incident took place.

Let all the rest of the re-living of the experience be exactly the same, complete with whatever emotional pain is there, and all the other components of the situation just as you experienced them.

But this time, FEEL what you are feeling. Open to it. Embrace it. Surrender to it. Let it have you. Let it burn clean. It will if you stay with it.

It may take a few times through to let your mental track go as you experience it, but it is well worth the effort. Whatever emotional pain that was trapped in the body / mind / emotions will finally be set free.

Step 4
Let your painful self-concepts unwind

This four-page series will help you unwind the painful self-concepts intertwined with your emotional pain.

Regular practice brings the best results

I invite you to practice these steps regularly. You will gradually begin to notice more peace and harmony, as suffering unwinds layer by layer.

Watch out for the traps

The mind can masquerade as love

Often, even when we have the intention of healing, what we really want is for the emotional pain to go away. This is the normal initial reaction we ALL have. We are conditioned to resist pain.

However, while holding this intention to make the emotional pain go away, we are essentially telling the hurt child within:

“I want you to go away. You're not acceptable as you are.”

The mind can even co-opt the healing process described here and try to do the process while holding onto resistance at the same time.

In that case, this is the mind's REAL agenda:

“I'll pretend to accept you as you are
but I'm only doing it because I'm hoping that will make you go away.”

Hurt Child Within

Imagine being a hurt child (which is essentially what the emotional pain IS) and actually hearing these words.

The hurt energy within feels the energy of this type of thoughts and the inner constriction only becomes tighter and more painful because we are in conflict with ourselves.

It is only when the energy of the emotional pain is totally allowed to truly be as it is that the constriction will gradually let go, because the resistance to what is arising IS the constriction of emotional pain.

Don't make yourself wrong if you really just want the pain to go away. If you feel stuck there, then THAT is the energy that is most on the surface – resistance. In that case, work with that energy first, allowing IT to be here as it is, as outlined above.

Remember: there is nothing wrong with you

As you begin to experience your emotional pain, remind yourself that there is nothing wrong with you for HAVING this energy within. All this emotional pain needs is loving attention and self forgiveness – to be touched with loving compassion without us trying to fix or change it in any way.

Don't try to interpret or judge the emotional pain

You don’t need to figure out the cause or what the story is that is connected to the emotional pain, whether it is something someone said or did or something you said or did.

If insights come, let them come.

But for our purposes of healing, for now, keep it simple. Just be with the energy as described above. At this point, mental analysis would only divert you off track and into the mind, which won’t be useful in acknowledging the emotional pain.

Remember, our intention here is to acknowledge and allow the FEELING energy itself to be as it is.

Just be with the feeling itself and let go of trying to "fix" yourself

In order to do this, you need to be willing to BE with yourself, to turn your attention inward. This is about being with yourself AS YOU ARE and being with what is appearing in you AS IT IS.

Notice the tendency to resist what you're feeling and / or make someone else responsible for it

If you notice yourself doing this, first of all forgive yourself. Most of our conditioning tells us to resist and blame, and it takes practice to become aware of that tendency and decline to follow it.

As I mentioned before, if you do notice resistance – either toward another person, to yourself, or to the energy you are experiencing – then let THAT energy be here too. Do the same thing as outlined above.

Whatever energy you're aware of, continue to follow the steps above, allowing it to be here as it is. You'll find that often there are layers to this process of bringing awareness to what is within and allowing it to unwind on its own and in its own time.

Stay with what is arising

No matter what arises, allow it to come forth naturally, but without trying to MAKE it come forth. Your job is to simply be in allowance of what shows up within you by itself.

Your mind will want to go into the mental commentary about the past or future. That's what minds do. :-) If you notice that, don't berate yourself. Just come back to feeling / sensing the emotions / energies that arise.

Complete acceptance equals love and healing

Once you’ve consciously allowed your emotional pain to be here as it is, you've opened the door to healing. Keep at it. Stay with it. Practice this regularly.

Remember to keep allowing the energy of the emotional pain to be exactly as it is. Let go of trying to change it in any way.

When the unconditional love of acceptance and emotional pain come together, simultaneously occupying the same space at the same time, there is an amazing alchemy of healing. I’ve seen some amazing miracles happen from this simple process, both in my life and in others' as well. :-)

Bring patience, sensitivity and kindness to this part of yourself.

Let go of any agenda about healing, fixing or changing this energy. Remember, the hurt child (emotional pain) will only hear that as "I'm not okay as I am." It is actually that energy that is at the root of the emotional pain to begin with.

It is quite a paradox, but by totally allowing it to be as it is, then and only then does it feel safe enough to let go.

For help with these practices: WellBeing Alignment Sessions

If you would like help in bringing your emotional pain into awareness for healing, I invite you to a WellBeing Alignment Session. During your session, the places of constriction that are most ready to heal are invited to show themselves.

Together, as awareness, we will allow the emotional pain within you to be seen as it is, within a field of love and openness, allowing them to unwind naturally.

You'll learn ways to continue the healing process on your own.

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