It’s so easy, when facing a painful situation, to hide from it. We try to avoid the negative feelings. To take the short cut. But negative feelings are there for a reason. Anger, frustration, pain, suffering is there to guide us. Doctors often say when recommending treatment and medications for a patient to ‘let pain be your guide’. This works in co-dependent recovery, too.
Listen to the pain. Don’t ignore painful feelings. Feel them. Acknowledge the pain and its healing power. If we didn’t feel pain, we either wouldn’t be alive or we would have leprosy. Leprosy is a condition in which nerve endings are damaged and dulled. Leprosy is terribly dangerous because without a healthy nervous system, the body can’t react properly to dangerous situations. If I lack feeling in my hand and I put my hand too near a flame, I will get burned because my damaged nervous doesn’t warn me to pull my hand away from the fire. That is why so many leprosy victims have scars on their flesh and missing limbs. Their body’s nervous system wasn’t able to warn them to get away from a painful or dangerous situation.
Without emotional pain, we would be like emotional lepers. Our dulled pain sensors and nerves would not warn us of dangerous situations in time. Here’s an example. Someone I love very dearly is in a great deal of emotional pain. He is suffering because he is in an unhealthy situation. While I empathize with every fiber of my being, I keep reminding him that his pain is there for a reason: to guide him through this valley, from which the only way out is through.
It’s not a matter of whether or not he ‘brought this pain on himself’. That is a naive and foolish idea. We aren’t given a crystal ball to foretell what the future will hold or what will happen in given circumstances. He didn’t ask for this pain. But he can decide how to use the messages that his pain is sending him. He has options and he can be free to explore them. Only he can decide how much is too much pain and when he is ready to do something about it. If he listens to his feelings and doesn’t ignore or repress them, they will guide his path.