By: Camille McDaniel, LPC, NCC, CPCS
I know this saying is more commonly associated with exercising and plans to get healthy physically “no pain, no gain”. How fitting then to use this saying in regards to counseling and a desire to get emotionally healthy. There are times in the counseling process where making needed changes is no walk in the sun-filled park. Change is not an easy thing to do. It can be frightening and painful. It usually involves walking a path never traveled and we all know that many would rather sit in an uncomfortable KNOWN situation than take their chances on the UNKNOWN. Why? Well, because we often want a guarantee of success, success meaning total peace and happiness.
Although unpleasant in the short-run, emotional pain can be beneficial in the long-run. Just as physical pain tells us something is wrong with our bodies, which should be checked, so emotional pain tells us something is wrong in our lives, which needs to be changed.
Emotional pain forces change. Learning new ways to think and behave can be scary and uncomfortable. Often times, the consequences of ignoring the emotional pain far outweigh the discomfort of facing the pain with the support of counseling.
Pain CAN be used as a catalyst for change:
- A child starts behaving in a manner that does not reflect their normal behaviors. This can be a signal to his/her parents that something is missing or not balanced in their life. The discomfort created for the parents can motivate them to find out what is wrong. If they wait until their child is much older, it may be too late to do anything about it.
- The pain of feeling alone and without meaning in life may start a person on a spiritual journey that can result in a closer relationship to God.
- Anger in a marriage may mean the spouses’ emotional needs are not being met. The pain created by the anger may cause both parties to work out their differences.
- The grip of depression causes a person to re-examine their needs, values and goals in a search for relief.
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”
– Lance Armstrong