Three Things to Do With Your Emotional Pain

The greatest fruit in your life will often come out of how you respond to pain that you experience. Unfortunately, most spend their lives running from pain, rather than leaning into it and discovering the learning and growing available in it. Too often, pain is not addressed until it has become excruciating or the issue has grown to unbearable proportions.

My prayer is that we can become people who see pain, not as something to avoid, but to face and grow through it. That’s an important mark of an overcomer.

Two Poor Responses to Pain

Before I get into three ways you can process your pain powerfully, there are two unhealthy responses to pain that we need to be aware of, which will not help your long-term healing and maturity.

1. Living in Denial

You don’t want to even go there. The pain was too great, so you shove it down and deny that it affects you.

Denial can be a natural reaction at first, to get you through a  crisis, until you settle later, debrief and process through what happened. But too many never actually process how their painful experiences affected them.

Therefore, denial becomes a lifestyle. It will train you to move on as quickly as possible, living as though the experience had zero impact on your heart. Sometimes denial can manifest in a facade of strength and resilience, but with little acknowledgement of a need for healing.

If you’re not taught how to process pain with God, it can be easy to mix precepts of faith with denial. Many believers go as far as not acknowledging a problem exists. They can approach every situation with a football coach approach: “You’re not hurting, get up! Get over it! You’re Not struggling! Don’t claim that. Don’t talk about it.”

Those kind of statements come from people who have not processed their own pain with God. It’s denial coated in super-spirituality.

2. Living as a Victim

On the other extreme, your wounds can become a part of your identity if you slide into victim thinking. If you think that your past is main reason why we you cannot break free, then you are listening to victim thinking.

Those who listen to victim thinking respond to trials with self-pity. While those in denial don’t face the issue, victims immerse themselves in the problem without any redemptive direction in their life. The only way is the world of “stuck.”

When you’ve become used to experiencing lots of pain, heartache and problems in your life, it can be easy for them to pile up in your heart. It can become all you see.

No manner of arguments or debate will pull you out of a victim mindset. Only you can discern it, kick it out and decide on a new direction.

Victims believe they are limited by what happened to them. Overcomers realize that how they respond to pain will determine their future. A victim believes they have no choices and no options. They are stuck by their limited thinking and bound to the chains of the past.

A Different Response

Of course, both of these responses to pain are unhealthy and have their negative effects. But in order to walk into healthier responses to pain, you’re going to have to develop some heart awareness. You’ll need to recognize that just like everyone else, you have areas of brokenness that need maturing over time. You will need to realize that you cannot ignore pain, but you also don’t need to soak in it. There are some much better responses.

1. Invite God into Your Pain

God wants to heal, transform and mature areas of your heart that have been impacted by pain. You can experience pain from what happened to you, or you can experience pain by not experiencing what you needed in life. One involves direct pain to the heart, while the other involves the pain of neglect and emptiness.

God wants to stand in and be the Father that you need today. But we have to get used to bringing our pain to Him and receiving His healing work. This takes time and learning, because in each area of pain you carry, God may have a specific prescription of the Spirit to walk you through.

Sometimes the healing of pain involves forgiving someone who wronged you. It may need an act of you forgiving yourself.

As you give your pain to God, you may become illuminating to disempowering agreements you carry that are holding you back. Limiting beliefs and strongholds can be torn down as you invite God into those places of pain; letting Him show you what He wants to do.

This works best when we make a decision to lean into the pain with God, rather than running from it, or immersing ourselves as victims into it.

2. Shake It Off

When you’ve done what you know to do to address the issue as much as you know, sometimes you just gotta shake it off.

Now to those who are in the denial world, they may say, “Yeah Mark, that’s what I do all the time.”

If you find yourself 100% of the time shaking off pain, you may be in denial. I am not talking about ignoring every issue in your life.

But to those who can struggle with victim thinking, this point is for you. Some of the pain you face will want to attach itself to your heart and follow you everywhere. It can take some practice, but not every single thing that happens to you should require a counseling session. There’s times you need to process. There are times you need to shake it off.

When you’ve done what you know to do and you still feel some struggle. It may be time to shake it off.  

3. Serve Others

One of the greatest ways you can respond to your pain is to be an encouragement to those who face similar battles as yourself. Make a decision in your heart to be a blessing to others. Those areas you’ve battled with often give you a sensitivity in that subject.

We easily get radar for people who have experienced a similar place of pain as yourself. If you’re someone who has been through a divorce, how do you feel when you hear of someone else going through a divorce? When you’ve had some mental health battle of your own, how do you feel when you realize someone near you is struggling? Exactly. Your compassion is heightened, because you know what it’s like to have that struggle.

We need more people turning the tables on the enemy. When I was bound up with mental health battles, I made this commitment to God:

“If you will help me to gain freedom over these battles in my life. I will commit myself to sharing everything you teach me with those who You put into my path who will listen.”

That has served the fire that still shines bright to this day. I moved into a whole new emphasis of ministry work, simply out of the pain that I went through in my own life.

Don’t waste your pain by ignoring it or soaking in it.

Give your pain to God and turn the tables on the enemy by serving others. What the enemy meant to destroy you can actually become the formation of your ministry impact on others.