Pain is one of the greatest evolutionary mechanisms for keeping people alive. When a person experiences physical pain, the sensation is their brain and nervous system telling them that there is a problem they need to fix before it can become worse. For example, you immediately draw back in pain when you touch a hot pan to avoid a more extreme burn.
Emotional pain can serve the same purpose. When you feel emotional hurt, it may feel like it is an overwhelming negative emotion. But it can be a valuable opportunity for learning as long as you are able to think about your pain in a productive way.
How to Turn Your Pain into a Valuable Opportunity
Pain in life is inevitable. At some point, everyone will experience hurt, rejection, setbacks, and loss. When a person experiences pain, it can be easy to slip into suffering, wallowing in the negative feelings or even using them to define oneself. On the other hand, some people experiencing pain may try to ignore it altogether and push the hurt they feel down to avoid dealing with it.
Both of these approaches can cost you a valuable opportunity. Many times, emotional pain can let you know that there is room for change and growth in your life when you use the following steps in response to the feeling:
- Accept Pain – Feeling pain is going to be uncomfortable, but take a moment to acknowledge it as something that you are feeling and a current reality.
- Know Pain is Temporary – Although it can feel very intense in the moment, pain will eventually fade and often more quickly if you can use it as an opportunity. Understand that pain is something you are feeling rather than something that defines you.
- Find the Lesson – Take time to examine your pain and the cause of it to see what the lesson might be. There may be a change you need to make in your life that will help reduce the pain or something you can avoid again to prevent a repeat of the pain.
- Implement Your Changes – This awareness of your pain will already give you a better self awareness. Use this self awareness to implement the necessary changes you noted earlier.
Learning to adjust your outlook and perceive pain as an opportunity can be difficult. Pain is often so intense that it is hard to think beyond the emotional response, and learning to find the value in emotional pain can take practice.
But if you are currently living with pain or after you experience a setback in the future, use these ideas to turn it into a learning moment with a positive outcome rather than simply a negative experience.