Do you feel like your life is killing you slowly? Maybe you’re not happy with your job or how a relationship is going. Maybe you’re stressed out due to money issues or a sick family member. You might feel like your life is not your own. Perhaps you’re feeling overwhelmed because there’s always more running around to do, or places to be. You may feel like the only down-time you get is when you sleep…if you sleep.
Not all pain in life is physical and obvious. Finding the source of physical pain is usually easy enough and physical pain doesn’t usually last very long. However, emotional pain is a completely different animal. It’s much harder to find the sources of emotional pain, and that kind of pain can last a long, long time.
So if you feel like life is dumping garbage all over you and there’s no way out, the good news is, you do have options. Sometimes having the right strategies can help you regain solid footing again. So here’s a good strategy for finding your dominant sources of pain. And following that, I’ve included a strategy for finally getting some badly-needed relief.
Identifying Your Pain
- Take out a sheet of paper and list everything that’s making you feel anxious, angry, nervous, stressed, overwhelmed, etc. Take as much time as you need. Don’t edit yourself, but keep this list private if you need to.
- Read the list and pay attention to your feelings as you read them. Carefully consider which item might be the top source of dominant pain in your life and mark the one that you would feel the most relief from if it were no longer a source of pain.
Keep in mind that you can carry paper with you and when you notice another source of pain, add it to your list. Treat it as a work in progress, which is really what life is anyway. Now that you’ve created your main list and identified your strongest source of pain, as well as many other big and little sources of pain that are dragging you down or making you feel like you’re suffocating, let’s talk about change. Specifically, let’s talk about how to start making changes when emotional pain (stress, worry, fear, overwhelm, etc.) has you bogged down.
Give It Some Thought
Here are a few reminders…some things to ponder.
- Nobody can control your thoughts.
- You can change your behavior and the way you react to circumstances if you choose to.
- In order for you to be trapped by pain, you have to believe you have no other options.
- There is almost always at least one option that will help a little bit.
- Begin thinking that it might be possible to find a way to reduce or remove pain in your life.
- Begin thinking that it might be possible to make a very small change.
- Small changes lead to more small changes (which all add up).
- Changing your behavior by taking action leads to different and better results.
- If you are willing to make even the smallest change, you will begin to reclaim your personal power.
If you’re experiencing pain that stops you from making your life better, adopting these ideas are a critical first step. You have to believe that you can take actions that will make a difference. If you follow that up by then taking action, you’ll be on your way to feeling some relief. Here’s a strategy to get you started.
Removing Pain a Little at a Time
- Refer to your list from the Identifying Your Pain strategy above and find the strongest source of dominant pain on the list.
- Write the dominant pain source at the top of a blank sheet of paper and spend a few minutes writing down how you would feel if this source of pain was completely manageable or totally eliminated from your life.
- Next, for five minutes, brainstorm everything you can do to reduce or completely remove that cause of pain from your life. Especially focus on identifying small changes you can make, or actions you can take that will help a little bit.
- Pick three actions from your brainstorming list you’ve just created and complete the actions over the next seven days, but try to complete at least one action today, if possible.
- Once you’ve completed three actions, choose three more actions from your brainstorming list to be completed over the next seven days–no matter how small the actions are.
- Repeat steps 3 through 5 until you’ve reduced or removed this source of pain, then start working on the next dominant source of pain by repeating this process from step 1.
NOTE: If you are unable to complete an action within seven days, it’s okay. Complete it as soon as you can. Also, it’s possible that some actions steps from your brainstorming list may not be doable or may not be needed once other action steps are taken. Don’t worry about this. It’s all about removing pain a little at a time. Just keep taking little actions consistently.
This process may not serve all sources of mental and emotional pain, but it should help with most of them. In some cases, you may want to enlist the help of a friend or relative for some of your actions steps. That’s okay too. But make sure you continue to take action on the small, simple steps that you can do right away.
Moving Forward and Feeling Better
Different behavior always leads to different results. And taking action instead of giving up starts to reshape circumstances in your life. When you begin to remove or greatly reduce sources of pain in your life, you may feel a sense of relief and empowerment that you haven’t felt for a very long time. You may feel less confused or overwhelmed. Your natural state of enthusiasm and motivation will begin to return. But remember, your positive and affirmative thoughts will help you on all levels and will support you so you can start feeling better. Begin to reclaim your personal power by taking life into your own hands. No matter how small the steps are that you take, you’re still moving forward.