Two Dysfunctional Responses to Pain

The question is not, “Will you face pain” because everyone to some degree will face pain in their life–wounds from broken relationships, disappointments and heartache will pierce us and come our way. The question is more, “What will you do with the pain?” Everyone has to answer this question and make a decision for how we plan to deal with the struggles we face in life.

We Shove It Down

The first avenue many take is the “shove it down” approach. We do what we can to quickly move on from the pain and get back to life, with little time addressing sorrow or grief.

Our culture does not know what to do with times of brokeness. When someone else is going through a hard time, we have no idea what to do, so we either say something unhelpful or we quickly try to get the person back “in the game,” when we don’t know how to give time to walk through sorrow.

We have been trained that strong people do not cry or stop when painful times come. But isn’t pain a sign that something needs to be addressed? We wouldn’t tell someone who had a laceration on their leg to just keep walking. But how often do we want people who have gone through tremendous heart ache to just “get over it”

Then we wonder why people manifest breakdown in their bodies and minds years later. A lot of it has to do with the fact that we are not dealing with pain, but simply shoving it as far down as we can.

Pain that is not processed well will come come out in some form and fashion. It will manifest through anger, emotional shut down or twisted communication. Because we lack skills on dealing with pain, in shoving it down, we also invite addictions to come in as outlets. Drugs, sex and alcohol are the common ones, but workaholism, pouring yourself in your kids while ignoring yourself and hyperchurch involvement can also be ways we manifest denial.

People I have worked with who have experienced PTSD understand that one of the best tools at their disposal is being able to simply talk it out. Talking it out gives room for the pain to breathe and become nurtured.

We Obsess About It

On the other hand, there is a tendency to hyper-focus on woundedness, difficulty and hurt. This is where we can become victims and never arrived to a place of solution. The one who obsesses over an issue thinks that the more they think about it and talk about, the more they will come to solution and resolution. When in fact, the issue they are trying to address is now growing and overpowering them.

We can easily make the mistake of overthinking about pain that we give those areas too much life.

What we focus on will grow. So if we continue to see ourselves through the lens of unresolved pain and brokenness, that is what we will become and manifest.

Neither of these two reactions to pain really help us in anyway. We have to be willing to address past pain; to grieve it, forgive and begin a renewed experience. The enemy’s works that keep you bound from your past pain can be freed, but we have to be willing to go through the process of healing. This has to be done wisely, with the help of others and with the power of God’s love. In that, will we only see true freedom come forth from our pain.

Question: In what ways do you need to deal with pain in a more effective way?