Stuff happens. Life can get ugly and, more often than not, it does. When things get rough, it usually catches us off guard too. And honestly, despite what you might see from other people on social media, not many of us get to experience that picture (or selfie!) perfect life. The reality is that there are bumps. Changes in direction. And unfortunately, pain usually accompanies these shifts. When this happens, it can become difficult to keep ourselves together. We’re expected to keep going with our everyday stuff even when the world has stopped (or maybe even just slowed down.) These are the times when we can become convinced that our situations or the pain involved with them is going to swamp us.
During the course of every day, we all tackle an endless assortment of stressors. It could be anything from the minor things like losing your keys or misplacing an email or report from work. These are annoying, frustrating, and sometimes the little things can push you over the edge. That’s not what we’re going to talk about today though. Today we’re going to hit the big pain. The big shifts in our lives. The stuff that makes it hard for us to not only go on, but even to take that next step.
These big shifts could be from just about any area of our lives. They could come in the form of a health crisis. Death of a loved one. It could just come from people around us who are hurting or business troubles. It might even be a failing marriage. Whatever they might be, when those situations in our lives shift on that sort of level, they catch us off guard. So does the pain that comes with them. In those moments, it can seem unbearable. Sometimes we even feel that it will crush us.
These moments of overwhelming pain are why so many of us would rather avoid these situations than to confront or deal with them. In trying to get away from the hard times, we might ignore the people causing the pain. We might try to sweep the whole thing under the rug. In a lot of cases, people try to numb the pain with compulsive escapes such as addictions. These can include everything from food, TV, or sex to religion, work or drugs. People often turn to these things in order to escape the pain. Not all of these things are bad in and of themselves. Work or religion or food can be great things that help us work through issues. But if we are using them to numb the pain or hide from a tough time, they are unhealthy. These compulsions create fear, anger, guilt, and shame. When that happens, we isolate ourselves. We quit talking, feeling, and trusting. We break off contact with others. The very things we’ve tried to avoid stay inside us through this time though. And as it stays there, it begins to store tension. Then everything can break down. That tension can result in relational distance and we quit talking, feeling, and trusting. In short, we shut down.
Some personality types shut down when things get stressful and that is how they best deal with their situation. It allows them space and time to process their feelings and then they are able to come back and effectively handle what’s happening. However, for a majority of people, shutting down will only make things worse all the way around. It can alienate family, partners, friends and create a bigger crisis.
Next time I’m going to get into a few various types of pain, what they mean for you, and some proven methods for how to deal with the pain you’re going through.