How Do I Stop the Pain??
Isn't that something that most of us have echoed at some point or another in our lives? I know when I broke my left humerus, I certainly wasn’t laughing (old joke) as I waited 10 days to get the surgery to fix it 😧. It was the longest Labor Day weekend of my life and not in a good way. I wish I had fancy or just any answers for a such a hard problem though I have a few thoughts on that as I work through the pain in my backside (from sitting so long!)
After 25 years of counseling, I think there are 3 types of pain: physical (my back), emotional (depression, anxiety), & spiritual (feeling burdened by fill-in-the-blank). And there are certainly links between all 3 areas. The physical influences the emotional which affects the spiritual and can increase pain and so on and so on. Definitely tough stuff. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicolefisher/2020/02/14/emotional--physical-pain-are-almost-the-sameto-your-brain/?sh=2b7e644d46c1.)
Physical pain is what most of us are used to hearing about and it seems the older we get the more there is going on or not going on in our bodies. Doctors use a pain scale from 1 – 10 so that they can have an idea of how much someone is hurting. Sometimes the pain source is obvious – via a cast or a sling or brace that your buddy has (sometimes all at the same time! 🤔). Yet often, it’s much more subtle. For example, many back injuries don’t show up when the body is observed in a normal context, however those x-rays or MRIs can sure light up the problem(s). Chronic pain is a real problem for over 100 million Americans. It’s a complex issue that requires specialized treatment. And occasionally, the treatment is worse than the pain. Opioid addiction affects 2 million Americans, causing devastating circumstances. (https://www.asahq.org/madeforthismoment/pain-management/types-of-pain/chronic/#:~:text=Chronic%20pain%20is%20pain%20that,that%20don't%20heal%20correctly.)
Emotional pain is something every human being encounters, though our culture does a poor job of teaching us how to handle it. We use labels like “just being emotional” or not “tough enough.” Men are seen as wimps if they weep and woman as hysterical when expressing deep emotions. Putting someone down because they are feeling intensely only makes the problem worse. Emotional pain can be debilitating and can lead to further psychological problems such as anxiety or depression. Expressing emotion is a vital part of any health plan and can be done through physical exercise, journaling, or just talking with a supportive individual (or your handy dandy counselor! 😉). There is a lot of good information in this article: https://www.verywellmind.com/physical-pain-and-emotional-pain-22421.
Spiritual pain isn’t discussed as much as physical or emotional pain, however it’s impact can be even more profound. It refers to the “hidden” arenas of our lives. According to Sister Jacque Schroeder, Order of St. Francis (OSF) Healthcare specialist, spiritual pain can be divided into 4 types:
meaning – of life (no not a Monty Python movie) & the world
forgiveness – whether it’s about self, others, or God
relatedness – how we interact with the people in our lives
hope- or rather hopelessness
How do we mediate this kind of pain? Sister Schroeder says for us to breathe & be silent. Our world is in too much of a hurry, & it’s easy to push through and run over the pain. When we focus on our breathing (trust me when I say I know about this) & let ourselves be quiet, then we can receive the spiritual and emotional healing we long for. https://www.osfhealthcare.org/blog/understanding-spiritual-pain/#:~:text=Meaning%20%E2%80%93%20struggling%20with%20the%20%E2%80%9Cmeaning,or%20it%20doesn't%20exist
As a counselor, I encounter all kinds of pain, and work to touch on it all. At Sanctuary Counseling & Supervision Services, I believe incorporating the whole self – physical, emotional, & spiritual – in the healing process is where we gain the most. Remember that pain also creates growth as we expand in different directions in order to manage those death blows (thanks Free Guy !) that life gives us. So, How Can My Sanctuary Serve You?