Holding on to The Pain

Sometimes when we are in pain we keep it to ourselves. We hold on to the pain. Our situation could be causing us distress, and yet we choose not to act, not to overcome.

This could be for many reasons. Maybe we deny to ourselves that we are indeed in pain. We try to make the situation okay. We act as if it is. Maybe we do this without conscious thought, an unconscious attempt to keep everything and everybody okay; or maybe we consciously hide our pain from those around us, choosing to carry on as if everything is okay in order not to spread our pain onto others. Maybe the thought of changing our situation is too overwhelming, too full of anxiety about change and fear of the unknown, and with repercussions for others with which, we fear, they cannot cope.

When we do this we often find that the pain leaks out; it manifests in other ways. This could be as feelings of anxiety, depression, stress or anger. Sometimes the pain manifests as physical symptoms: aches and pains, IBS and other digestive problems, headaches and migraines, tinnitus, exhaustion, insomnia or interrupted sleep.

At the same time, the very people we seek to protect from our pain are affected by our attempts to hold on to it. By choosing to remain in a painful, distressing or unhappy situation, the ways in which our pain manifests often bring distress to those around us. We may appear ‘moody’, ‘irrational’, maybe we express anger at minor transgressions. Maybe we appear distant as we isolate ourselves from those around us in an attempt to maintain the current situation without needing to engage in it. Any physical symptoms we are experiencing may result in worry and concern as attempts are made to find out what is wrong, while no obvious cause is found.

Maybe our pain is telling us something. Maybe something is not quite right with our current situation.

Working with a counsellor we can attempt to uncover what is wrong with our situation. We can examine our emotions, our physical symptoms, our needs and our wants.

Once we get a better understanding of what we need, and the extent to which our needs are, or are not, being met within our current situation, we can begin to examine what our choices are and what changes need to be made. Often the change that we need is difficult and the choice to make the change feels painful, both for others and for ourselves. Attempting to avoid causing pain to others is what has caused us to hold on to our pain, and what has led to our continued suffering, as well as the suffering of those around us.

In the alliance of a therapeutic relationship we can find our own power to make the changes we need. We can feel supported as we make the difficult choices which we need to make, and valued as we put those decisions into action.



Author: Steve Hughes

I am an integrative counsellor and a registered member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy. I work both privately and in local charity.

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