Home > First Things First Blog > 6 Ways to Deal with Emotional Pain

Have you been to the doctor’s office or emergency room and they asked you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10? I really stress out over this question and probably way overthink it. I want to know what a 1 or a 10 stands for so I can answer accurately.  If I am going to be healthy - physically and emotionally, I better answer honestly. People are counting on me.

After 31 surgeries in the past couple of decades, and surgery 32 right around the corner, I have probably been asked to rate my pain hundreds of times. Hundreds. By doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, physical therapists, mental health professionals. Sometimes it’s hard to pin an exact number to your pain, but you know when it’s there. What do you do with yours?

Over the years, I’ve learned the patterns of my pain. For me, physical pain usually leads me to emotional pain like loneliness or depression. When I’m depressed, I’m more likely to do something like skip physical therapy which then prolongs my recovery time which only makes me more depressed. And the downward spiral spins… 

If I am going to have a healthy relationship with myself (and my family, friends, neighbors and co-workers) it begins when I answer these questions honestly...

How would you rate your pain today Mr. Daum, on a scale of 1 to 10?

How would you rate your depression…

How would you rate your anxiety…

How would you rate your anger... 

How would you rate your stress…

How would you rate your loneliness...

 

It is so tempting to ignore or downplay our pain. Are you honest about yours?

  • Call in the Professionals. Whether your pain is physical or emotional, know when to get help. Some problems are just bigger than you are. Don’t be a hero. Don’t let it paralyze you. Don’t let it make you do something you’ll regret. Don’t pretend your anger is a 2 when you are at a 9. There is nothing wrong with calling in the pros.
  • Laugh. Seriously, laughter is the best medicine. Mock your pain by laughing at it. Take some of its power over you away. If the people around you see that you can joke through your struggles, it puts them at ease, too. (This doesn’t mean you don’t take it seriously, just that you won’t let it steal your smile.)
  • Perspective. Perspective. Perspective. True, sometimes the pain that you are feeling is the Worst Pain in the Whole Entire Universe to you in the moment, BUT there is always someone out there who would trade problems with you in a second. That doesn’t make your problems magically go away, but it gives you perspective
  • Embrace the Pain. This one is a tougher sell. Work with me here. There is a huge upside to pain. Whether it is physical or emotional, your pain is trying to teach you something. Pain is a strict teacher, but it teaches some of life’s most important lessons. Lean into the pain. Be open to the lessons. Be grateful for them...
  • Keep It Real. If someone asks how I feel, I usually tell them. They asked. (You don’t have to dump EVERYTHING on them, but you’ll soon learn that your Brave Face doesn’t help anyone.) At least have one or two people in your life that you can be real with about how you feel when you are hurting or depressed or angry or stressed. These are people who will let you vent, not be dismissive, listen for a while, but then help you get centered and refocused again. These people are your angels.
  • Prevention. The cool thing is that a lot of what keeps us healthy physically also helps keep us healthy emotionally. Good sleep. Exercise. Eating healthy. Getting out in the sun. Spending time with friends and loved ones. Gratitude. Check-ups with professionals. Listen: The absolute best pain, physically and emotionally, is the pain that you avoid.

On A Scale Of 1 to 10, How Honest Are You About Your Pain?

 

Written by John Daum

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