How to Deal With Emotional Pain

Goda Brzozauskaite
  • Apr 06, 2022
  • 4 min read
portrait of upset woman with serious headache pain

Emotional pain is something we all have to deal with at one point or another in our lives. It is just as difficult as physical pain, and trying to cope with it in unhealthy ways such as binge eating, substance use, or shopping will not improve things.

Emotional pain can come into our lives for a ton of reasons, such as when going through a breakup, dealing with grief, or experiencing loss. In any event, emotional pain can be debilitating and interfere with your everyday life. Our tips below will describe how to deal with emotional pain in a healthy way, so that you can take charge of your life.

Why Is It Hard to Overcome Emotional Pain?

Emotional pain is hard to overcome because our emotions are our baseline of functioning – they cannot be controlled or prevented. The problem is: when we choose to ignore, push down, or numb our emotions (in an effort to get rid of them temporarily), we can do more harm than good.

Our emotions are an important part of our lives, and they are often indicators that something is wrong. For example, the emotion of anxiety drives us to avoid a situation that may be threatening or dangerous. Sadness, for instance, urges us to decelerate and retract, which allows us to cope with a loss or realign our energies after experiencing a failure.

The way we choose to cope with these emotions can cause further emotional pain. These coping mechanisms can extend into things such as binge eating, consuming too much alcohol, “retail therapy” or unnecessary shopping, and other unhealthy coping mechanisms.

How to Overcome Emotional Pain

The experience of emotional pain is one of the fundamental motives for seeking therapy. When our emotions operate unchecked and chaotically, they can result in troubling thoughts such as “what if” and judgmental thoughts. These thoughts can lead to a perpetuation of emotional pain because they prompt behaviors such as avoidance, aggression, and alienation.

There are several methods we can practice to release emotional pain.

Give space to your emotional pain

Everyone experiences emotional pain differently. Some people have physical manifestations of emotional pain (such as a tight chest or throat).

What is important to remember is that your emotions are just emotions and cannot harm you. You should allow yourself to feel your emotions, so that you can acknowledge them and work yourself through them. It is important to keep in mind that you are safe and practice some breathing exercises to center yourself.

­Processing your emotions should be done in a way that does not cause you to judge yourself. Judging yourself can lead to feelings of shame and guilt, which exacerbates emotional pain.

In the same manner, processing your emotions should include self-compassion. This means that you should allow yourself to feel the emotion without inhibition. For example, if you feel the urge to cry, then you should allow yourself to cry rather than telling yourself to “toughen up.”

It is important to remember that crying, or any other expression of emotion, is not a sign of weakness. It takes a great deal of strength to process emotions, and the expression of emotion during this process is part of the journey. Emotions are meant to be expressed and not suppressed.

In fact, emotional suppression, sometimes referred to as “bottling it up”, actually has negative effects on the body. Not only can suppressing your emotions affect your self-esteem, but it can have physical implications, such as affecting your blood pressure and your memory, among other effects.

Try to accept it

Like we mentioned before, emotions are necessary for us to live our lives, and there is no escaping them. In fact, trying to fight our emotions is both physically and mentally exhausting. We need to keep in mind that our emotions are valid, regardless of the situation that we find ourselves in.

Additionally, once we are able to accept our emotions rather than fighting them, then we can understand the reasons behind them – and we can constructively work through them.

Ruminating in our emotions is also not a helpful way to cope. By constantly reliving the experiences that are causes of your emotional pain, you are sapping cognitive resources and exhausting yourself mentally. Rumination can also cause additional stress (and its physical ramifications) on the body.

Educate yourself

In keeping with the objective of dealing with your emotions directly, educating yourself on the emotion you are dealing with is another method that can be used to deal with the pain you are experiencing. Self-help books or books on mindfulness can be extremely helpful in working through emotional pain, especially pain that is caused by a particular situation or event.

Some self-help books are even tailored to a specific scenario that you may be dealing with, which may be even more beneficial to you.

Reduce painful emotions with meditation

Meditation is an effective tool in releasing emotional pain and calming the nervous system through deep breathing. Meditating allows you to be an onlooker of your emotions rather than becoming your emotions, which is helpful in stressful situations when emotions may make you volatile.

Regular meditation allows us to not only remove ourselves from our emotions but also gives us the ability to better control our emotions and our reactions to certain situations.   

Express yourself

As we mentioned before, suppressing our emotions is neither healthy nor helpful. Expressing our emotions in a positive and productive way is a helpful tool to overcome emotional pain.

Using techniques such as journaling, art therapy, dancing or yoga can all aid in processing and releasing emotional pain. In fact, art therapy has been shown to be helpful in regulating emotions through self-expression.

Consider therapy

Emotional pain is one of the main reasons individuals seek out therapy. Although all the above strategies are helpful in reducing negative emotions, therapy is a good option to consider, and a therapist can help guide you through the process of overcoming emotional pain.

Online therapy is a comfortable way to seek help, and it allows a person to reach a therapist every day via text messages. It is also possible to obtain online therapy through scheduled audio and visual sessions virtually. Online therapy is also helpful because it is flexible, more affordable, and more accessible than traditional therapy.

The Bottom Line

Emotional pain is a common difficulty that almost everyone has to cope with at one point or another in their lives. It can be debilitating and hard to cope with, but there are many strategies that can be used to overcome emotional pain and get your life back on track without resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as binge eating, shopping, or using substances to cope.

If you are struggling with your emotional pain, seeking therapy is an effective option. Online counseling is also helpful, as it is more flexible and allows you to reach a therapist through more adaptable methods, such as texting. If you are seeking online therapy, we can help.

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