Letting Pain Be Pain, Not Suffering
Because we know that what’s emotional can manifest into the physical, like when we’re stressed and we develop weird skin issues, we may be tempted to consider the opposite; allowing what’s physical to manifest into the emotional. Taking any physical ailments or discomforts we may have, and adding them to the list of things that we’re upset or stressed about. But if we let pain just be pain, and we don’t allow it to turn into additional emotional suffering, we arm ourselves with more resilience to be able to tackle both challenges.
Easier said than done, though, right? To be certain, separating physical pain from emotional suffering is something that takes conscious effort and work. There are definitely different levels of physical challenges, and feeling what you feel is deeply important. But if we’re able to separate any physical challenges from our self-worth, we can alleviate our overall stress, unhappiness, and dissatisfaction. If we’re able to extract our worthiness from a physical challenge, we’ll be more mentally tough and resilient.
For example, perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol, and your doctor has placed you on a treatment plan of diet and exercise. It would be easy to turn this physical challenge into a psychological one; you could get frustrated with the weight you’ve put on, or your previous lack of exercise, or your family genes. But this frustration is not constructive. In fact, it may make taking action even more difficult; when we come from a place of disappointment, lack, or frustration, we’re not as well equipped to make change.
So how do we make this mindset shift? We put in the work. Consider the following journaling exercise to dig into, and separate physical vs. psychological challenges you may be facing:
What physical challenge am I facing?
Does this challenge impact my self-worth?
Would other people say this challenge impacts my worth?
Is my perception based in reality?
Is this physical challenge impacting my emotional health?
How can I see this physical challenge differently?
Affirmation work is another helpful tool for this situation. After we’ve gained more perspective on the challenge we’re facing, we can formulate an affirmation to begin rewiring our thinking. For the example above, a good affirmation might be:
“My worthiness is not changed by the numbers on a scale or medical test.”
“I am worthy despite my physical challenges.”
Have you been turning physical pain into mental or emotional pain? How can you separate your physical challenges from your self-worth, and find power and control over your body?