Happiness is a topic widely discussed yet few feel they have truly achieved. Most of us are struggling with pain and suffering that we choose not to share with others. We don’t want to be seen as “weak,” “dramatic,” or “sensitive.” So what do we do? We push the pain far down inside of us. We polish ourselves on the outside. We paint on happy faces and we tell everyone we’re doing fine. Maybe we are fine, temporarily. The problem with pain, though, is it finds a way out. Slowly, it starts seeping out of you in ways you won’t be able to predict. Maybe you snap at someone for no reason. Maybe you burst into tears when you can’t find your keys and you’re late for work. Maybe you start declining invitations from friends. Maybe your health starts declining or you find yourself exhausted most of the time. Regardless of how your pain chooses to manifest itself, trust that it will come pouring out of you like a raging river that cannot be contained.
You may think you can use positive thinking to make your pain go away. Positive thinking is certainly more productive than negative thinking but it will not cure you from emotional pain. Sometimes positive thinking can be used as a method to further mask pain. Maybe if you focus only on positive things, the negative will magically fade away. Maybe if you constantly tell yourself you should be happy, you’ll stop feeling sad. Wrong. You’re still avoiding your pain every time you feel a negative emotion yet convince yourself you shouldn’t be feeling it.
The only way to get through your pain is to face it. When you feel overwhelming sadness welling up inside of you, let it out. Cry as long or as much as you need. Don’t tell yourself to get over it and move on. Take however long you need to truly feel the pain and embrace it. The same goes for any other negative emotion. If it’s anger, accept that you feel angry. While you can’t physically become aggressive or out of control, you can practice voicing your anger instead of bottling it up inside. It’s uncomfortable to tell people when you’re upset with them but you must embrace the discomfort. Have the conversation. Some people may not respond well to it, but you’ve released yourself from carrying the burden of that pain.
The quickest way to poison a relationship is to let pain fester inside of you instead of confronting it directly. Sometimes you may experience more pain at first in order to work through it. Trust the process. Pain has no timeline. Be gentle with yourself and remind yourself that it will get better.
You may grow tired of hearing clichés about suffering such as “time heals all” or “pain won’t last forever.” Those may or may not apply to your suffering. Sometimes, pain doesn’t go away. Sometimes facing our pain means learning to live with it. Some pains in this life don’t fade with time. It may feel as raw to you ten years from now as it does in this moment. While it may not go away completely, facing it will allow you to continue to grow through the pain. You will be stronger and wiser because of it. Avoiding your pain will only keep you stuck in an endless cycle of negativity and sadness.