We all have seasons of pain. There are days or weeks or months and even years when the pain feels insurmountable. Are there things we can do to help nourish our soul in times of pain?
6 ideas to nourish in time of pain.
Here are 6 suggestions on how to nourish in season of pain:
- Nourish a higher, eternal perspective. This earthy “value of tears” is temporary; that someday all things will be made new; that I am an eternal spiritual being, having temporary earthly experience.
May your kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matt. 6:10 MSG)
- Increase Understanding and Compassion for your Brain in Pain. Trauma messes with your brain chemistry and stalls connections for a season. Sadness can exhaust people. Being newly pregnant is fatiguing. Your brain is doing something similar; it is busy letting go of one “normal” and finding ways to assimilate a new “normal.” It’s physically tiring brain work to experience stress and to go through pain. My situation with my mom and learning she really did have a mental illness, put me in a tailspin. I was learning to cope with the knowledge she was not okay and her odd behaviors were linked to years of mental stress. I was sucked into her delusions until I reached the time, over a period of days, I mentally nor physically could take her paranoia anymore. The stress caused my body to react-some days I thought I was the crazy one.
In Carol Kent’s book, “A New Kind of Normal,” Carol writes that with her son serving life imprisonment for killing his wife’s ex-husband, her old normal wasn’t useful anymore and she had to find a new normal, a new way to live.
Depression affects the same areas of our brain that process physical pain. A highly stressful or agonizing experience can make you tired and achy but also stupid. My friend who is going through difficulties with her husband with dementia says she can’t remember a thing. It’s like she’s living in a fog all day and everyday.
Neurons and dendrites and synapses and such-are now being “borrowed” for the SOS brain task of coping with a loss, processing painful emotions, and rewiring your brain to accept and adjust to new realities. You have precious little brain energy left over for regular tasks and social interactions. My friend because she was coping with a very difficult life situation, had difficulties with everyday tasks. She was exhausted and depleted.
- Seek out and embrace a more healthy, nourishing story. Often it’s not the actual event or person that keeps on hurting us, but our “thoughts about” the event or person instead. I have the habit of replaying negative situations over and over in my head, until they become more prominent than they need to be. They may have hurt us once but by rumination, we reinjure ourselves again and again. We can exchange false, painful stories for God’s truth. Over time we can also change our emotions, our moods, our personalities, and the outcome of our very lives, by seeking God and His purpose.
- Cry productive tears. Tears from sadness contain actual toxins that tears of joy do not. After we’ve let those tears flow, the nasty toxins leave our body and a lightness returns to the body and mind-like the cool, clean air following rain. Many times I’ve needed a good cry after a painful encounter and I am able to move on.
Tears are precious to God as recorded in the psalms. God sees every teardrop, saves them like the finest grapes, then transforms your broken tears into something beautiful, rich and life-giving that will quench another’s thirst and bring comfort and joy to many.
- Let go of controlling anything or anyone-except your own thoughts. We get to choose our thoughts about what happens to us and how we will respond. Everything else is out of our control. Clean pain is acknowledging a painful event that legitimately hurts. But once we’ve vented to someone and cried our lot of tears, we move forward to the nourishing work of letting go, forgiving, visualizing new dreams and better ways of trusting God to repurpose our pain into something even more beautiful. Dirty pain is when we create ongoing “grievance stories” about what happened to us, then go over it in our minds nursing grudges, staying stuck, and therefore, continuing to reinjure ourselves with our painful thoughts long after the event transpired. When we have the clean pain, it can move to be dirty again rehashing in our heads, old hurts resurfacing, going through the process again of letting go.
- Rock Your Soul. Something, someone, a movie, a song, or a tone in a voice can trigger feelings from a previous pain in the very cells of your body. As I’m writing, I’m feeling moodier, sadder, melancholy and there’s an achiness in my heart, remembering past pains. Trauma specialists have found one simple way to help people to release trauma, especially when it is held in the body, is to do some back-and-forth swaying movements. It brings us back to the way we were soothed as babies. Engaging the large muscles also releases neurotransmitters that calm stress: doing pull-ups or calf raises and even carrying something heavy can send relaxing messages to an amped-up brain. Researcher and author of the book, “Lifting Depression” discovered doing something productive and repetitive with your hands engages something she calls the Effort Driven Reward Loop and is calming and uplifting. Drawing and coloring for me is an outlet. I have a pretty new box of colored pencils and pretty designs to color and it amazes me how relaxing it is to focus on a task I used to do as a child.
Tomorrow’s post is shorter, I promise, as I write on choosing to nourish your soul in pain. Things you can do to help yourself.
Blessings in your own journey and may you find the comfort you need in Him.
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