What To Do When Emotional Pain Feels Unbearable

Pain is a nonnegotiable part of life. No matter how blessed or privileged we are, at some point the rollercoaster of life will take a downturn. However, experiencing pain does not mean we need to suffer.

If you are in a low point, where the emotional pain feels unbearable, know that you have options to acknowledge and address pain without undue suffering.


If You Can Identify the Source of Your Pain, Address the Source


If you have a problem that you can solve, then solve it. Look for solutions and take action. But what happens when the source of our pain is something that we have little to no control over?


There are many things we do not have control over in life that cause us emotional pain. The death of a loved one, job loss, a breakup . . . these are things that happen to us randomly and without warning. What's worse, is that we cannot do anything to change what happened after the fact.


What we can do in these situations is identify and focus on what we do have control over. You cannot bring someone you loved back from death, but you can plan a funeral and memorialize their life. You cannot convince a boss not to fire you once it is done, but you can ask for feedback and start applying to new positions.


Recognizing you are in pain and identifying what you can do to channel that pain is one method to stop suffering, which happens when we sit in the pain without taking action to help ourselves.


If You Can't Solve the Problem, Change Your Perspective


You've identified the source of your pain and you've taken what action you can. Maybe that action is so limited the only thing you have control over is how you think and respond to it.



When an activating event causes us emotional pain, we often have an initial set of beliefs and thoughts about that event. Those beliefs then trigger an emotional consequence-sadness, hopelessness, anger. To reduce suffering, go back and evaluate your initial thoughts sparked by the initiating event and challenge them.


For example, let's say you go into work one morning and are fired before 9am. The negative thoughts start pouring into your mind . . . "This is so unfair. I'll never be able to find another job. I'm worthless if I can't provide for my family." These thoughts leave you feeling depressed, afraid, and hopeless.


At that moment, you have a choice.